Staunton Businesses, Nonprofits Present ‘Bright Ideas’ - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Staunton Businesses, Nonprofits Present ‘Bright Ideas’

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Some of Staunton’s creative minds were vying to win an innovation grant competition Wednesday night. A wood grill, micro-housing, and cooking lessons were just some of the bright ideas proposed.

The Bright Idea innovation grants aren't for startups.

“We want to help the people who are already in business, who are at a critical point in their business and really just need a leg up, a hand, a helping hand,” said Julie Markowitz, executive director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association.

Each of two winners will get $5,000 grants, one for a business in downtown Staunton or Newtown, and the other for a nonprofit that serves that area. A total of 22 businesses shared their ideas.

Turtle Lane Gift Boutique wants to create a community canvas that in turn will support artisans not yet established.

“Where anyone passing by has a chance to create - I find that to be a really intrinsic part of the human spirit, just a need to create,” said Becca Schneider, the boutique’s owner.

The American Shakespeare Center hopes to make an app to help people identify their Shakespeare personality, in turn creating an itinerary for a weekend in Staunton.

“So Juliet should go eat at Emilio's, because she's Italian and it's romantic, and go for a walk around the duck pond with her honey and stay at the Frederick House because it's so charming,” said Sarah Enloe, director of education at the American Shakespeare Center.

Project GROWS would like to establish an aquaponics setup on their farm, growing fish as well as crops.

“We're hoping this provides a winter option when there's not a lot of fresh food, fresh produce, as well there's not a lot of other locally available sources of seafood,” said Roger Woo, an Allegheny Mountain School fellow who serves at Project GROWS.

And while there can only be two winners, the competition could be helping everyone.

“We're assisting them and getting them to put down in writing, and actually begin seriously thinking about an idea that maybe before now wasn't ever really anything but a vision,” Markowitz said.

Judges picked their favorites Wednesday night, but the final phase of the contest is a small business plan in writing. All 22 ideas should be up on the Staunton Downtown Development Association's website in the coming days.

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