Rockland Trust has always sought to help local small businesses grow. This past spring, the $19 billion-asset community bank in Hanover, Mass., held its seventh annual Small Business, Big Dreams contest. Participating small businesses competed for a chance to win up to $20,000 in funding to fulfill their business aspirations.

“To help a small business owner make their dream a reality—it’s something we do every day in our communities,” says Mary Chetwynd, director of business banking sales at Rockland Trust. “We are fully committed to working with small business owners to create success, and that translates into stronger communities.”

Small for-profit business owners across Massachusetts and Rhode Island are eligible to compete in the Small Business, Big Dreams contest—without having to be a Rockland Trust customer. They’re simply required to have been in operation for at least two years.

Because of this, the competition showcases a wide variety of businesses in different stages of development from all over the two states. “[Diversity] is a key driver here at our organization to ensure everybody has an equal chance to win and all are included,” says Chetwynd.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of every community. They create the products and services that consumers purchase. They also create jobs and opportunities for everybody.”
—Mary Chetwynd, Rockland Trust

Some friendly competition

When Rockland Trust created Small Business, Big Dreams back in 2017, small business contestants competed for a chance to be featured in a professionally produced video. But the competition has grown to be so much more than that.

“We grew the program because we wanted to learn more about the businesses that we would feature,” explains Chetwynd. “What started off as a very small social media small-business awareness event has turned into a meaningful opportunity for both the participants [and] the business banking officers. It’s just been a wonderful experience for everyone involved.”

Now, each March, contestants submit written entries detailing their business goals, financial health and target markets. They also note ways their businesses are set apart from fellow competitors.

Following the application process, the contest committee narrows the pool to eight final contestants who make it to the interview round. From this group, Rockland Trust chooses the final three contestants. These finalists are then paired with business banking officers from Rockland Trust to create business plans and present their ideas to a panel of judges in June.

It’s up to those judges to decide who gets the grand prize: a $20,000 reward. Both runners-up receive $2,500 each. In addition to the funding, all contestants who make it to the final eight benefit from the visibility provided by Boston 25, the local television station that broadcasts parts of the competition each year.

Family Dinner
Erin Baumgartner and Tim Fu used their grant for their business, Family Dinner, a local farmer’s market delivery service.

A win-win situation

The Small Business, Big Dreams contest benefits everyone, including Rockland Trust itself.

“The business banking officers get to develop long-term, lasting relationships with the business owners and actually provide some education around what should be important and what they need to think about in order to run a successful business,” says Chetwynd.

In addition to these relationships, Rockland has gained visibility within the local business community. The competition allows Rockland Trust to make its dedication to small businesses known. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of every community,” Chetwynd adds. “They create the products and services that consumers purchase. They also create jobs and opportunities for everybody. When you support that, you’re just supporting the whole community, because it has a ripple effect in every direction.”

The Rockland Trust team is always excited to hold the annual Small Business, Big Dreams contest. “Every year, we’re just inspired by the passion and determination that we see within these participants. We look forward to hearing their stories [and] learning more about them,” says Chetwynd. “We truly are a bank where each relationship matters, and we are highly focused on the business community, and this is just a reflection of all of that.”