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The Downtown Business Alliance and Big Sky Economic Development are teaming up to bring a new destination spot downtown.

Lisa Harmon, president of the downtown group, announced Wednesday the Battle of the Plans, a contest to choose the best new business plan and expansion.

Grand prizes for two winners, one existing business and one new shop, will be a year of free rent downtown, along with consulting, graphic design and advertising services, access to competitive loans and free memberships to the Downtown Business Alliance and Big Sky Economic Development.

The businesses must be located within the downtown tax increment financing district, roughly bordered by North 31st Street to the west and North 22nd Street to the east and Sixth Avenue North and First Avenue South.

Harmon said the groups are leveraging tax-increment financing to pay for the year of rent. The winners are required to sign a three-year lease.

A third cash prize will be available to students of Montana State University Billings and Rocky Mountain College for the top business plan. The winner will be determined by a jury selected by the sponsors.

All business concepts are due by April 15. The concepts will be winnowed to finalists May 1, and the winners will be announced Nov. 26.

Concepts can be emailed to lharmon@downtownbillings.com or gregk@downtownbillings.com. More information is available at www.downtownbillings.com/battleoftheplans .

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