By David Meade
Williamston will be getting two new businesses next year, each opening with the assistance of grants totaling up to $10,000.
Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall announced the winners of the Main Street Challenge for two new business start-ups during the Williamston Town Council meeting Monday.
The winning applicants include an event venue and a sandwich shop and deli, that will both be located in the town of Williamston.
Chris and Samantha Wagner were the first to be announced. The Wagners are planning to open an events venue at the Davenport House on West Main Street. (Pictured above -Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall with Chris and Samantha Wagner)
Khaled Al Fackl and Imad and Rose Alchaieb are the second winners. Fackl and Alchaieb plan to open a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Sandwich Shop and Deli. (Pictured l-r )Envision Williamston Executive Director Sonya Crandall with Rose and Imad Alchaieb and Khaled Al Fackl.
The winning applicants will each receive a grant totaling up to $10,000 to start up and operate their businesses.
Additional benefits for the first year of operation include: quarterly advertising in local newspaper, banking assistance, free internet and telephone service (1 line), and complimentary membership in the Palmetto Business Association.
Envision Williamston Board Chair Roxanne Hall and Innovate Anderson representative Faye Meares were present for the announcement.
Hall said the Main Street Challenge Selection Committee went through an extensive eight month process of evaluating eight candidates for the grant.
After going through a business plan development process, the eight were narrowed to four for the final selection.
The Clemson Area Small Business Development Center, under the guidance of Ben Smith, assisted the four finalists in completing a business plan. Oral presentations by each of the four finalists were then made to the selection committee.
During the process, the committee scored the candidates and asked several follow-up questions about the planned business.
Also during the final process, the sandwich shop and deli people catered a Palmetto Business Association meeting and received excellent feedback, according to Crandall.
Crandall noted that during the process, committee members suggested some changes in the business models that were presented.
The idea initially presented by Fackl and Alchaieb was for a variety food store which evolved into a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Sandwich Shop and Deli.
Also during the process, a planned pavilion at the event space was reevaluated in terms of scope and cost.
Committee member Dr. Marion Williams suggested the venue, which was initially presented as a wedding venue, be called an “event venue”.
Williams noted that it not be exclusively be a wedding venue as it can be used for receptions, anniversaries, business meetings and a variety of other celebrations.
Williams said that being involved in the process of selecting winners of the Main Street Challenge was interesting and that the finalists were well vetted.
Innovate Anderson liason Faye Meares said, “We are so delighted to be a part of this Main Street Challenge. As we bring more businesses to the area, we hope to have several more people who see the energy and excitement of staring a business in Williamston and other small towns across the County.”
The winners will have to meet certain reporting requirements including quarterly reporting and a cost reimbursement process, according to Crandall.
The Envision Williamston Economic Development and Placemaking Committee and staff, headed by Jim Simpson, will assume the ongoing monitoring and implementation tasks, Crandall said.
Sponsors of the Envision Williamston Main Street Challenge include Innovate Anderson, and the Town of Williamston.
Envision Williamston Main Street Challenge Selection Committee members included Faye Meares (First Citizens Bank and Innovate Anderson), Dr. Marion Williams (The Eyecare Center), Rockey Burgess (Autech and Town of Williamston), and Bobby Winburn (incoming PBA president and Restoration Church pastor). Roberta Hamby (Palmetto Properties) chaired the committee.