Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association, said online voting kicks off at 10 a.m. today (Wednesday, June 6) and continues until July 11.

VOTING: What kind of new business do Langleyites want downtown?

Public picks one of five proposed companies vying to win a $130,000 Start It Up Langley contest.

It’s up to the voting public which of the top five contenders will be the next new business to set up shop in Downtown Langley.

Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA) held its Start It Up Langley contest earlier this spring, and after reviewing all the submissions, judges have whittled that list down to just a handful – all food-oriented establishments, said executive director Teri James.

“We’ve narrowed it down to five outstanding semi-finalists who all have something unique to bring to the Downtown Langley community,” she said.

The winning business in the Start It Up Langley contest will receive more than $130,000 in prizes, including six months free rent, marketing support, legal and accounting set up, business coaching, a grand opening reception, and more.

“We’re very excited to turn this over to the public to see what they would like to have as a business in downtown Langley City,” James said, revealing the list the five finalists.

• Clayton Height’s resident Cliff Dalrymple | The Pink Donut Cake Shop, “offering delicious specialty donuts and cakes that are baked fresh daily.”

• Langley’s own Jennifer Henderson | Elevate & Anchor — A Tea Shop & Wellness Studio, offering “a peaceful space where customers can enjoy a relaxing blend of teas and participate in wellness classes.”

• Maple Ridge resident Chaylene Lidell & Shaughnessy Keely | PinkAVO Cafe, “offering healthy, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly food, vibrant decor and Instagrammable pink lattes.”

• Walnut Grove resident Brian McKenna | Old Ted’s Cure – A Salmon Boutique “offering fresh cured and smoked salmon and specialized culinary equipment.”

• Cloverdale’s Vicki Nguyen | Phound – A Dessert Shop & Bakery, offering “a place where smiles, memories, and delicious sweets are made using local ingredients.”

There were more than 50 applicants, but “unfortunately many didn’t meet the criteria for the retail component,” James explained.

As well, the contestants were required to put up a $30,000 capital commitment of their own, which she said disqualified several applicants.

“Our criteria wasn’t unrealistic, just required. Canada Revenue Agency check, Criminal Records check, some capital funds of their own and a business plan that made sense,” James elaborated. “It wasn’t easy, but I strongly believe that [the judges] did their due diligence. Our goal is to ensure the success of the new business, and the dotted Is and crossed Ts will go a long way to ensure the success and future of this new and exciting business.

“$130,000 for a business start-up doesn’t just happen, you have to work for it, and we believe these five semi-finalists have worked for it,” James added, saying they now have more work to do.

Finalists are now tasked with gaining as many online votes as possible before July 11.

The three proposed companies with the most votes at that time will proceed to the final judging round, James explained.

Contest judges – members of the Langley business community – will then select the winner of the grand prize, and the winner will be announced July 16.

Asked if there are plans to host this business contest again, James wasn’t sure, yet.

Admittedly, she said, it’s a lot of work and takes a huge commitment from a lot of “incredible” sponsors to pull off a competition of this magnitude.

“Maybe in two years, and if so, we would open it up to second locations and re-locations. There’s a lot of successful and thriving businesses that we would love to have in downtown Langley City,” she said.

In the meantime, members of the public are invited to vote once per day until July 11 at startituplangley.com.

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