FRANKLIN, Va. (WVEC) -- Downtown Franklin is looking to shake things up in 2017 with a new program. The city is giving potential business owners the chance to take courses and then submit business proposals to win grant money to open up shop downtown.

Winners can win up to $40,000 to jumpstart their business.

The City of Franklin isn't just offering grant money to those winners but courses that will help guide business owners along the way.

The owner of "The Cat's Meow" boutique, Debbie Crawford, has been open in downtown Franklin for nearly five years and she thinks it's the close-knit environment with other businesses and customers that she enjoys.

"We know most of them. We do and it's funny because sometimes if we're really busy, we'll have customers pitch in and help," said Crawford.

Amanda Jarratt, President and CEO of the Franklin Southampton Economic Development, hopes potential businesses owners can be a part of it.

"We're going to have our very own shark tank here in Franklin," she said about the program.

It begins with the "STARTUP Downtown Franklin" program.

"We want to have new blood in our downtown area and what we want them to know is that we're here to help them through the process," said Jarrat.

Applicants are put through courses taught by ODU professors and guided through a business proposal drafting process.

Then, a panel of judges will pick winners, who will receive the prize money.

"We can only gain by that. The more businesses we have down here, the more support we get," said Crawford.

If you'd like to apply or know more about the "STARTUP Downtown Franklin" program, click here.