ATTLEBORO — Sometime in the spring, five new shops are expected to open in vacant downtown storefronts.
The new businesses will arrive as the result of a contest run by city Economic Development Director Catherine Feerick, which is part of the Downtown Business Revitalization Project.
The contest involved business training for budding entrepreneurs and the development of business plans. It unfolded over several months and concluded with presentations by contestants to a selection committee this past week.
Mayor Paul Heroux termed the final selection of contest winners “exciting news” on his Facebook page Friday afternoon.
“These five businesses will be opening up after months of work by the city’s economic development director who I hired to do exactly this task — fill some of the empty storefronts and help revitalize our downtown,” Heroux said.
Each of the five businesses will get a cash award to help with opening costs.
The money comes from a $50,000 Urban Agenda Grant issued by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
The city partnered with Massachusetts Small Business Development Centers, the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, and HarborOne U, which provided training and advice for the entrepreneurs and will continue to do so after they open their shops.
Representatives of those groups selected the winners this week.
Maliza Boonbarwornrattanakul was the first-place contest winner and is due to get $20,000 for her startup Everything Bagels, a New York-style bagel shop.
Second- and third-place winners Monique Jacobs and Donna Madsen are slated to get $10,000 awards.
Jacobs plans to open S.O.M. Vibes, which will provide art therapy for individuals and groups. Madsen’s shop will be called Tea You Later and is described as “a tea-centric café and bakery.”
Fourth- and fifth-place winners are Lauren Clark and Corey Graney, who will open a salon and fitness studio called Fit to Shine, and Salina Chowdhury, whose Total Modesty shop is described as “a boutique for fashionable and modest apparel.”
They each will receive $5,000 awards.
The winners will get the cash when they sign leases for their storefronts.
The new business initiative comes as developers are adding hundreds of apartments downtown.
Two former factories on Union Street are slated for renovation into apartments while a new five-story, 132-unit apartment building on the corner of South Main and Wall streets is under construction.
All are within walking distance of the MBTA commuter rail station off Mill and Union streets and are expected to draw Boston commuters as tenants. It is hoped the tenants, in turn, will help support downtown shops.
In addition, a formerly polluted six-acre parcel off Riverfront Drive will be marketed by the Attleboro Redevelopment Authority in the next year or so.
That parcel is expected to bring more residences and shops.
“The partners in this project congratulate the winners of the Downtown Business Revitalization Project and thank all the participants in the program for their passion, their dedication and their desire to contribute to our downtown,” Feerick said in a news release.