MESA, AZ -
Growing a small business in the current economic climate.
One man is on his way after winning a contest with a hefty prize.
Chuck Markos is living out his dream of owning his own crossfit gym. He runs the Firebird Crossfit gym in Mesa.
It's a dream that started while he was still serving in the United States Army.
"We were doing Crossfit in our garage and training our friends and so we knew this was something we wanted to do post-Army," Markos said.
But in a time when half of all small businesses fail he knew he and his wife would need some help. That's when they heard about the Valpak "
Dough to Grow" award contest.
"One of my athletes told me and said 'hey they have this contest, you ought to enter it,' so I sat down and wrote the essay," Markos said.
More than 500 applicants entered for their chance at the $10,000 for small business owners last year. Chuck knew the odds were against him but then he got the call.
"At first I thought she called me to tell me I got third place or sorry or something like that... you don't expect to get a call like that very often, but it was very happy," Markos said.
That was in 2012. Now this year's contest is up and running and the sponsors say they understand that the odds are stacked against them.
"We really are trying to help these businesses in a tough economy because we understand. It's tough out there."
Co-owner of Phoenix Valpak, Cindy Rash, says the "Dough to Grow" award contest is also about getting to know who our local business owners are.
"It's so exciting to be able to be a part of something like this and see Chuck's growth and also see all these other business owners who have great stories," Rash said.
Markos says he's gone from training about 20 people to nearly 150. Now he just encourages every other small business owner, like himself, to get any aid out there.
The deadline to enter is October 31. Three winners will be chosen this year. For more rules and more information visit the "
Dough to Grow" website.