Thirty-six candidates have submitted entries for the first round of the Fourth Annual Business Plan Competition offered by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC). Sixteen are in the New Business category and 20 in the Existing Business category.Contestants range from a proposed kitchen store to a naturopathic health clinic. Several finalists from previous years returned with new ideas or refined plans. Three business proposals consider using the Internet as their primary medium for interacting with customers for various forms of teaching. Other proposals include candlemakers, timber-frame builders, architects with special design offerings, a farm-based brewhouse, and a Vermont liqueur maker. There are plans to expand a drum-making business, create a new high-end audio product, expand concrete businesses, and manufacture knapsacks.Jeffrey Lewis, BDCC executive director, said, Each year we are surprised and pleased to see the evidence of business entrepreneurship in Vermont. This is a great place to bring new businesses into being. He noted, We were not sure what we would see for entrants in these economic times. Thirty-six entries is larger than last year s 28, so that suggests that people are thinking harder.Winners from the three previous years — New England Center for Circus Arts, Fulcrum Arts, and Grafton Fiber — are all still pursuing the plans that won them first-place prizes.Judges will be reading the entries this week and deciding by March 9 who the finalists will be. They will choose up to six finalists in each of the two categories: Existing Business and New Business. The fact that there are more entries in the Existing Business category suggests that people are thinking this is a good time to do a new business plan to prepare for the economic recovery when it happens. Finalists will have until April 20 to develop a business plan with complete financial projections, analysis of competitors and markets, plus a full description of how the business can be successful. Final judging will be on April 30, at which time contestants will present their business ideas and answer questions. Governor Jim Douglas will make prize awards at a 3 p.m. ceremony that day at the Marlboro College Tech Center in Brattleboro.Founded in 1954, BDCC is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth in southeastern Vermont. More information about can be found online at BDCC’s website, http://www.bdccbusinessplancompetition.com(link is external) or by contacting BDCC at 802-257-7731.