According to a press release by Visit Casper, five finalists have been selected to advance to the final round of interviews in the Visit Casper Business Challenge, out of 13 applicants from the semi-finals.

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Made up of four existing businesses and one new business, the five finalists are: Christy Martinez of C Bracket Horse Barn, Nicholas Johnson of Turn on the Dark Entertainment, Juliann Harvey of Old Town Family Fun, Russell Mason and Razi Saydjari of Alcova Resort, and Jon and Gayle Ramsey of Barbarian Roasters.

John Glassburn, assistant director of Impact 307, said:

"While this was our first time doing the Visit Casper Business Challenge, the quality of applicants and their proposed business plans, ideas and improvements were impressive. The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well in Casper, Wyoming, and this challenge affirmed that this state and our community are a great place to do business."

In total there were 27 applicants, which caused the Visit Casper board of directors to increase the seed money from $25,000 to $50,000 at their September board meeting.

The money for the challenge is provided from CARES funding to help Casper recover, which the city still has a large amount of money left to disperse.

The five finalists will face a panel of judges from a variety of businesses in Casper: Kristin Wilson, Blake Jackson, Angie Schrader, Tiffany Gamble, Nat Steinhoff, as well as James Scoon with the Wyoming Office of Tourism.

Based on the guidelines released by Visit Casper, the judges will evaluate each business on five criteria: content and thoroughness, clear communication and overall presentation of the idea, effective use and impact of prize money, the probability of a successful launch or viable business, and positive impact on the visitor experience or economy.

The judges will hold interviews for the finalists on Nov. 12, with all seed funding disbursements being awarded by Dec. 20.

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