A business planning to open a restaurant and brewery in Lebanon was awarded a $2,500 grant at Boone County Economic Development Corp.’s Launch Night.
The corporation hosted Boone County’s inaugural Launch Night Aug. 25, creating an advocacy platform for local small businesses during the pandemic.
Klooz Brewz, based in Lebanon, was named winner of this year’s event. Klooz Brewz received a $2,500 reimbursable cash grant to be used for business services such as consulting, rent and website design under the condition it continues to operate in Boone County. The company plans to open a restaurant and brewery in Lebanon, according to its owner, Patrick Klooz.
Grace Truck from Zionsville, Maker Factory from Lebanon, McCormick Novelty from Advance and Zionsville Urban Farms from Zionsville also competed at Launch Night, each pitching their businesses for a chance to win the cash grant.
Attendees, both in person and virtual, also were able to vote on the Jackson Investment Group People’s Choice Award. Grace Truck won the award, receiving a cash prize of more than $600.
The event was held in person and virtually to allow for social distancing, organizers said. Thirty-seven attended the event in person and 21 attended virtually. The corporation’s economic development manager, Rachel Huser, said the assembly of residents, community leaders and business owners allowed the burgeoning small businesses to network and launch into the community and gain recognition.
“Boone County has 79 percent employers that employ less than 9 individuals, so a large part of our ecosystem is based on small business,” Huser said. “So any opportunity where we can provide connections for them is an important area that we’d like to play in.”
“Obviously, there have been many challenges associated with COVID for small business,” said Molly Whitehead, the corporation’s executive director. “For some small businesses, we have seen that their businesses have really taken off depending on what type of product that they have. For others, it has obviously been more challenging, especially if they’re in, say, the restaurant business.”
Whitehead said many businesses have reported a lack of access to capitol during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing them to seek creative ways to secure funding. She said events like Launch Night help local businesses find funding.