A remote city in southwestern Wyoming is pulling out the stops to attract a new bakery to its historic downtown. It’s been 20 years since Rock Springs, Wyoming (population 27,000), had a downtown bakery, and now the city’s economic planners believe it’s long overdue.
That’s why the Economic Restructuring committee of the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency recently announced a contest called Baker Battle 2016 to recruit a bakery to open in Rock Springs.
“We don’t have a bakery in the community other than the supermarkets or Walmart,” says Chad Banks, manager of the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency. “A bakery is more than a place to buy sweet baked goods. It’s a gathering spot, and really becomes one of the key anchors of a downtown.”
Baker Battle 2016 is set for April 23 at the Rock Springs High School Culinary Arts classroom. Bakers will compete in three categories, as well as submit a business plan for review. The winning baker will take home a $500 cash prize and the option for a $5,000 grant if they open a downtown bakery within 12 months of winning.
The contest is open to serious bakers 18 years old and older. Existing bakeries wishing to open new locations or relocate to downtown Rock Springs are encouraged to enter. A number of home bakers have expressed interest in competing, Banks says.
“This is not just a bake-off,” Banks emphasizes. “We want to know: Do you have a business plan and are you ready to take the next step? Our idea is hopefully this contest will encourage someone to take the next step and open a store front.”
Known for its coal mining industry and scenic outdoor life, Rock Springs is home to a diverse population of 56 different nationalities and boasts an average income of $69,616, according to the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce. The diversity, according to the chamber, is a result of the influx of immigrants from all over the world who came to work in the coal mines that supplied fuel to power the neighboring communities and steam engines of the Union Pacific Railroad.
For Baker Battle 2016, each person or team must submit a completed application with an executive summary and business plan by April 1, 2016. In order for the competition to take place, at least two competitors will be required.
Entry forms are available at the Rock Springs Main Street/URA office and online at http://i.saffireevent.com/files.ashx?t=fg&f=2016Application(1).pdf&rid=DowntownRockSprings
Applications and business plans will be evaluated and the top four contestants will be selected to move onto the baking portion of the contest.
Applicants will have a total of 120 minutes to complete two different categories, with an over all of three categories.
Breakfast/brunch pastry item (muffins, donuts, scones, etc.) (60 minutes)
Cupcake (spring theme) (60 minutes)
Bring in a previously decorated cake
The first two categories will be judged on both taste and presentation. The third will be judged on presentation only.
The prize will be awarded in two tiers:
$500 to the Baker Battle winner as decided by the judges
$5,000 grant awarded to the first place winner if winner decides to open a bakery in the downtown within one year. Grant subject to approval of the Executive Summary Business Plan submitted and proof of one year lease for location in downtown. Other incentives may be available such as marketing assistance, façade grant, paint grant, etc. If the first place winner chooses to not to pursue opening a bakery, the grant availability will pass to the second place contestant. Grant money must be applied for and awarded within 12 months.