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DTSB contest heating up; finalists entering crunch time

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – With less than two weeks before finalists will present their final pitches, 10 ideas for what to do with the State theater in downtown South Bend are beefing up with details.

Finalists are finding that a great idea is nice, but it takes more than just an idea to boost downtown economy. The idea has to become a reality.

That’s what the Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is trying to help them achieve.

Using a pitch first plan later format, finalists will give judges and the owner a broad overview of what they envision for the old theater.

With 10 minutes and 10 slides to convince everyone, finalists will have to figure out what to do with an immense space to make it a financially viable business. In the end just one idea can win.

Some finalists are finding out that their original idea needed to be adjusted.

Alex Regnery and Joe Crimmins came up with one of the qualifying ideas.

The original idea was to refurbish the theater to accommodate films shot with IMAX theaters in mind.

But after beginning to flesh their idea out, it was clear they needed to do more than just offer IMAX films.

The duo is keeping the details of their plan hush-hush for now, but is excited to share it with judges on June 19.

“Other than the $1,000 potential winnings there, we’re approaching this really with an air of fun,” said Crimmens.

Crimmens, Regnery, and all of the finalists, want to see South Bend’s downtown get a boost from the reopening of the State Theater.

This whole process has been exciting for Indiana SBDC regional director Janet Fye. “These were a whole new group of people saying I care about my community, I care about what happens downtown, and I care enough to take it to the next step,” said Fye.

The SBDC is a non-profit semi-governmental program that offers free counseling to people who want to start a business and are willing to come to the table with a financial commitment.

Tim Abbott is a business advisor with the SBDC and has worked with several of the finalists to prepare them for their final presentations.

According to Abbott creating a business plan is uncharted water for many of the finalists, so this approach really worked out well in showing the potential their ideas had. “This is a great opportunity to really, possibly make a huge difference in what happens in our downtown,” said Abbott.

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