One of the small business community's most anticipated contests of the year kicked off Thursday morning as KeeFORCE announced the start of its Xtreme Business Makeover competition.
The contest, which is in its fourth year, has given full-service prize packages to three local businesses previously. Occasions Unlimited took home the 2013 prize package, Glisson Vineyards won in 2012, and the inaugural contest winner was Riley Architect Services in Mayfield.
"I think what it does is that if you own a business you don't have expertise in all of the areas this package provides," said KeeFORCE president Terry McKee. "You now get all of the information you need to make important decisions. The prizes are definitely a game-changer."
The prize package this year comes in with a value just under $45,000 from 22 businesses. KeeFORCE is donating one year of its Xtreme Support Help Desk Plan, which provides network help for up to 10 computers and one server. Capstone HR is lending a hand with HR consulting and reviews, and EntrePaducah will offer consultations on everything from networking to state incentives, while 1187 Creative is providing $5,000 worth of branding and marketing services. The Four Rivers Business Journal is giving away print ads to the winner. WPSD Local 6 and WKMS are both giving away on-air advertising.
FNB Bank is giving $500 to the winner, as well as consumer loan discounts. Frick Investment Group and Money Concepts will provide financial planning and monitoring for one year, and Glisson Vineyards added an office party for 20 guests with alcohol discounts. Williams, Williams & Lentz, CPA will provide an overview of the winner's bookkeeping system, and Turner Communications will review all communications policies with recommendations. Workforce Solutions at West Kentucky Community & Technical College will add four hours of leadership training to the pot.
The prize package also includes a free ad on iList Paducah's website, business structure reviews by Long & Long, LLC, stationary materials from Minuteman Press, an advertising package from MyLocalConnect.com, and on-hold messaging services from Omni On Hold Messaging. The winner will also receive a risk management workshop with Peel & Holland, $500 of products from Petter Business Systems, $1,000 worth of imprinted merchandise from Rene Advertising Specialties, Inc., and a specially designed website from Solution Media Group.
"It's a feel good project, not just for us but for all of the people involved," McKee said. "They get to help and we get to help and at the end of the day somebody is better off for it."
This year, applications from businesses will be taken on KeeFORCE's website only. After filling out the application, the business owners will have to complete a questionnaire and a KeeFORCE staff member will follow up with an on-site interview. An independent panel of judges will then review all of the materials, and will make a judgment call based on the business' needs and the potential lasting impact of the prize package. The deadline for applications is March 9, and the winner will be announced April 22.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.