The 2023 BLDC-EAP Business Plan Competition is officially underway.

The annual Business Plan Competition is now the longest-running competitive business plan event in the Greater Binghamton area as it goes into its 14th year. The competition was launched by both the Binghamton Local Development Corporation (BLDC) and the SUNY Broome Entrepreneurial Assistance Center (EAC) based at SUNY Broome. The contest awards $7,500 in prizes to applicants with the best business plans in the city of Binghamton.

According to Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham, the annual contest connects local entrepreneurs with the resources and support needed to grow a business, encouraging creative ideas and promoting small business development in the local community.

“Binghamton has a rich history of entrepreneurship and a vast network of individuals, companies and organizations willing to help new businesses thrive,” Kraham wrote in a press release. “Thanks to all the sponsors of this year’s contest, and best of luck to all the contestants.”

The deadline to apply and submit the executive summary for the competition is April 5. Eligible applicants must have either an existing business located in the City of Binghamton that is no more than five years old, or present a plan to locate a new business in the city. They must also demonstrate the ability to finance and open the business in Binghamton within four months of winning the competition, and commit to keeping the business in the city for a minimum of three years.

Emma Smith, program director at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator (KSTI), described the opportunity she sees in the competition.

“The BLDC Business Plan Competition is a tremendous opportunity for both newly established small businesses and startups and for entrepreneurs just beginning on the entrepreneurial journey with a really well-formed idea,” Smith wrote in an email. “Not only is the cash prize extremely helpful to a business, but the resources and in-kind services the winner receives are even more impactful and beneficial.”

The KSTI, which opened in 2017, is a 35,000-square-foot space located in Downtown Binghamton operated and staffed by the Binghamton University Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Partnerships. It consists of high-tech laboratories, co-working spaces, private offices and common areas that encourage collaboration between tenants and members, creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

Through multiple program offerings, mentorship and resources, participants of the BLDC competition are provided the necessary tools to take their startup business to the next level. The KSTI also offers space and programming aimed at start-up businesses and entrepreneurs open to students, members of the Greater Binghamton area and beyond.

Noah Kinlaw, a freshman majoring in business administration, agreed that the BLDC competition could develop businesses in Binghamton.

“I think that Binghamton’s fairly economically barren,” Kinlaw said. “I haven’t been here that long, but from what I’ve seen there isn’t a lot of business in the area.”

Nava Sherman, a freshman majoring in industrial and systems engineering, believes the competition meets its goal of seeking to cultivate local business development and will have a positive impact on the community.

“I think it would impact students by creating awareness for the ways they can help local business and entrepreneurship ideas, as well as creating opportunities for generating income because a thriving small business creates jobs,” Sherman said.