Copper Trail wins business contest
Although they were hesitant, at first, to enter the first-ever Pitch Your Plan business contest, Dave Gibbons and Adam Graf are happy they did — especially when Copper Trail Brewing Company's name was announced as the winner Tuesday afternoon.
The brewery's co-owners won a prize package worth $38,000 that included professional services (legal, accounting, banking, insurance and more), marketing services (signs and advertising) and other services such as moving, garbage, real estate, architectural, internet and website design. They plan to use as many of the items as they can.
Gibbons and Graf, founders and owners of the craft beer brewing company, entered the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission business contest because they knew an expansion was in the works and because several people suggested that they enter. Copper Trail, which opened in December 2016, is the first brewery in Alexandria in more than 70 years.
Gibbons said he and Graf had done a lot of the business planning homework already. They were among 33 applicants in the contest, which was a three-phase business competition open to current business owners and entrepreneurs who presented their for-profit business idea to a committee.
Graf said they learned a lot throughout the process and it was "beyond helpful" to them. He also said he and Gibbons learned that they have been "doing a lot of stuff right."
They noted that the other two finalists — Smokin' Brews and 'Ques (owned by Jason Schmidt) and Venn Hagen (owned by Elke Richards) — brought their "A game" during the final presentations last week.
The three finalists pitched their plans last Thursday to a panel of judges, including: Joani Nielson, a local entrepreneur who was a silent founding partner of Tastefully Simple; Laura Urban, Alexandria Technical and Community College president; Karl Kvale, a real estate agent with Edina Realty in Alexandria; Dave Anderson, one of the owners of Anderson Funeral Home and an Alexandria School Board member; and Greg Wagner, director of business and economic development for West Central Initiative.
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