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The Big Idea Business Plan Competition 2015 is set to begin

Would-be entrepreneurs in Rowan County once again have a chance to vie for cash prizes in the second annual Big Idea Business Plan Competition that begins Feb. 1 with entries accepted online for the first round of competition.

The competition is sponsored by Catawba College’s Ketner School of Business as a way to promote entrepreneurship and an understanding of the business planning process for Rowan County residents. It is funded in support of Rowan County entrepreneurship by a donation from Ralph W. Ketner, co-founder of Food Lion.

The competition invites participation in one of three categories: high school (16 and older), college and adult. Each category competes for a $1,000 first-place prize, a $500 second-place prize and a $250 third-place prize, with two honorable mentions earning $50 awards.

There is no registration fee and competitors may register online beginning Feb. 1 at www.catawba.edu/bigidea .

Participants will be asked to submit a broad summary of their business concept online via a web form.  All entries must be submitted by Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.

After the first round deadline for submissions, judges will pick five finalists in each division. The 15 total finalists will be assigned a mentor or mentors who will help guide and refine their business plan development.

A completed business plan in the Business Model Canvas format, along with a two- to three-minute video pitching the business idea, will be submitted to the judges for final review and ranking.

The Big Idea Business Plan competition has increased community involvement during this second year of competition with the addition of co-chair Brannon Williams, an entrepreneur, business owner (Art’s Cube), and an individual who has become very involved in promoting entrepreneurship in Salisbury and Rowan County.

Dr. Pamela Thompson, Ketner School of Business dean, said she sees the continuation of the competition as an exciting stimulus to the growing interest in entrepreneurship in this area.

“Brannon Williams is bringing new ideas to the competition, and we are excited to kick off our second year of the contest with enhanced instructions to participants and mentors,” she said.

“Studies show that introducing entrepreneurship to students at a young age can improve graduation rates through high school and promote goal setting and creative thinking.  We have so many successful business ventures that have roots in Rowan County, and we want to continue planting the seeds of entrepreneurship,” Thompson said.

Williams, competition co-chair and member of Entre Rowan, said, “Entrepreneurship has sustained the United States economy for centuries.  Wouldn’t it be great if more people took up the challenge and became a part of what has made America so successful?”

“I know there are many of you who at one time or another have wondered why a particular product or service doesn’t exist.  I say to you: ‘Why don’t you put your thoughts into action and enter this Big Idea Business Plan Competition?’  Who knows, you might win at this level and go on to become a millionaire – wouldn’t that be great?” Ketner said.

Winners in the Big Idea Business Plan Competition will be announced at an awards ceremony slated for 7 p.m. April 30 in the Tom Smith Auditorium of Ketner Hall on Catawba College’s campus.

Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, and Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWorks, are working closely with Thompson and Williams to bring this opportunity to budding local entrepreneurs in Rowan County.

Last Year’s Winners were:

Adult Division:

First – By His Grace Ventures, Inc. (Beautiful You Minerals) by Carolyn Davis

Second – MJJM Enterprises by Matthew McCullough and Janeria McCullough

Third – I Am Priceless by Shaunice Sasser

College Division:

First – Rosa Lee Active Media, LLC by DaQunda Magwood

Second – GameOn by Lincoln Anderson

Third – Capture This by Zhaquondalee Greer

High School Division:

First – RoCo To Go by Carson High School Entrepreneurship Class: Cameron Cabrera, J.C. Carpenter, Tommy Dang, Tonny Dang, Jennifer Eury, Grayson Haff, Jon-Marc Overby, Lucas Safrit, Alishia Sears (teacher Colleen Young)

Second –  Red’s Diner/Average Joe’s by Salisbury High School Students: Zack Bates, Keegan Giste (teacher Tim Pittman)

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