The Koffman Southern Tier Incubator hosted a press conference on Wednesday, May 31 where Mayor Jared Kraham announced the winners of the 2023 Binghamton Local Development Corporation (BLDC) Business Plan Competition.
“This is the longest-running competition of its kind in the Greater Binghamton area, this is the 13th year of its existence,” Kraham said in his opening remarks. “It’s evolved very much over the years, but its mission has stayed the same, which is it aims to cultivate a local business climate, support entrepreneurship, help young companies with business plans make connections through the small business world, and ultimately provide the resources for small business growth.”
First place this year went to Electric Light Apparel, which is owned by Stephen Gonya of Binghamton.
“Accepting this award is a tremendous honor and privilege,” Gonya said. “The cash award’s great and obviously will help my start-up business. In addition, I also look forward to using the other services that come with this award.”
Gonya was awarded $5,000 and access to services provided by competition sponsors. Services include a three-month co-working membership at the Koffman, five hours of accounting services from Davidson Fox & Co., $500 in legal counsel from Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, a one-year membership to the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, $500 towards sign creation services from 3i Graphics & Signs, $500 in website services from FreshySites, $500 towards branding services from Idea Kraft, and one-year of membership to the Triple Cities Makerspace.
“All of these will be very helpful, and I’m certainly going to take advantage of them all,” Gonya continued. “There’s going to be a lot of questions, a lot of challenges ahead of me and I know that. I’m really grateful for this opportunity, I’m really looking forward to the future and I’m confident that my business will succeed with the help, the support that comes with this award.”
The BLDC also awarded cash prizes to those in second and third place, a practice that began last year. All cash prize awards are funded in part by M&T Bank with additional support from Binghamton businesses and organizations.
“We have excellent second and third-place winners this year that are truly deserving,” Kraham said, “and we look forward to seeing their small businesses thrive in the coming years.”
Second place went to Vedova La Couverture, a women’s boutique owned by Tatiana Williams which just celebrated the grand opening of its first brick-and-mortar location at 168 Clinton St. in Binghamton last weekend. Williams is a graduate of the Support Black Businesses 607 Accelerator affiliated with the Koffman and was awarded $2,000.
Third place, with a $500 cash prize, was awarded to Perfectly Poured. The online business, owned by Ashley Hall, caters to minority women in their 20s and 30s through humor-based self-care products like candles, wax melts, and more. Hall is also a graduate of the Koffman-affiliated Support Black Businesses 607 Accelerator.
Among other speakers at the press conference was Eric Krohn, director of business incubation programming at the Koffman.
“If I were to really summarize what I think is going on here, what we might all be experiencing: ‘entrepreneurial spirit’,” Krohn commented. “I think a lot of us might see that term in the media, maybe on T.V. or online. What does it really mean to have ‘entrepreneurial spirit’? Today. Today is a great example of that. The reason this building is here in Binghamton is a great example of that. The partnerships, from local businesses, from banks, from our government all for the sole purpose of inspiring entrepreneurs to get out there and take that entrepreneurial spirit and be great, do wonderful things in the City of Binghamton. That’s exactly what’s happening today… So I hope everyone that competed in this competition comes to see us and I hope all of those that are considering to be at the Koffman apply for this competition next year, and I really can’t thank you all enough for having that entrepreneurial spirit.”
For more information about the BLDC Business Plan Competition, visit: https://www.binghamton-ny.gov/government/departments/economic-development/2023-bldc-business-plan-competition-page