Last fall the Owatonna Chamber conducted its first Retail Challenge. Straight River Rug Hooking and Fiber Arts was declared the winner and awarded a startup incentive package.

The Chamber is now conducting the first Restaurant Challenge. Parties interested in starting a restaurant or planning on a dramatic change in direction in their restaurant business are invited to take part. Go to the Owatonna Chamber website for an application; the deadline is April 7. A panel will sort through the applicants in the first phase. Phase two qualifiers will then work on designing a business plan and location. The third phase will consist of naming a winner. The goal is to have the new establishment open by the end of this year.

An incentive package valued at about $30,000 is at stake. This includes about $24,000 from the Economic Development Administration to be used in the actual building housing the establishment. The remainder of the incentive money will be from private businesses for things such as legal advice, marketing and printing.