Open for Business Challenge deadline approaching

Local entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business are in luck.

Paresh Bhatt, owner and general manager of Comfort Inn in Fort Dodge, has helped fund the Open For Business Challenge.

Through his Gift From India Fund, which has been created at the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, he will subsidize a challenge award of up to $10,000.

The goal is to help turn an imaginative idea into a business ready to start by Dec. 31.

“My biggest hope behind this project is that it works as a catalyst and inspires many more, or at least one person somewhere,” Bhatt told The Messenger last month. “If we can help one person or a family to be successful, I will see it as a success for this project.”

Projects located in or providing an economic benefit to north central Iowa (Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright counties) will be considered. Full details regarding eligibility and the selection criteria are available from the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way or the North Central Iowa Small Business Center.

Applications must be filed by 5 p.m. Friday at the North Central Iowa Small Business Center, 217 S. 25th St., Suite

C-12, Fort Dodge, IA 50501.

As of April 5, seven applications had been received, said Lisa Shimkat, North Central Iowa Small Business Center regional director,

Only complete applications will be considered. All questions regarding entry should be addressed to Lisa Shimkat, Small Business Development Center, email: