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November 13, 2014

“The Next Great Idea” 2014 Business Plan Competition Winner Announced

Music Instrument Covers was named the 2014 “Next Great Idea” (NGI) Oswego County Business Competition winner at a reception held Thursday, November 13, at The Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center in the City of Oswego. The company was awarded $25,000 to start their business in Oswego County.

Music Instrument Covers, a start-up company owned by Matthew Vacanti has identified an opportunity to develop a colorful and protective covering for string instruments like violins, violas, and cellos. These products would be manufactured here in Oswego County and marketed worldwide to schools, professional musicians, and the general public. The product is unique as a low-cost solution to customize the appearance of a string instrument that won’t significantly impact the sound quality while in use. Vacanti believes that the covers will be especially effective in attracting children and beginner students to study string instruments.

“I was delighted to present our third NGI award,” said Austin Wheelock, NGI chair and economic development specialist with Operation Oswego County. “Entrepreneurs and small business are the backbone of our economy and the building blocks for growth in our county. We believe that Music Instrument Covers is an excellent example of this and truly is the ‘Next Great Idea’ for Oswego County.”

The other Finalists for the $25,000 prize were Austin Rudd and his business, Bookbrawl.com; Heather Shambo, owner of Ontario Soap Company; and Karen Crisafulli, owner of Party & Play Cafe.

Keynote speaker was Pam Caraccioli, SUNY Oswego Deputy to the President for External Affairs and Economic Development, and the topic was the new Start-Up NY Tax Free Zones Program. Judges for this year’s event were selected based on their local business knowledge and expertise in the fields of operations, management, financing, and entrepreneurship. Those judges were Jeff Grimshaw of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations; Adam Gagas of Breakwall Asset Management; Kimberly Steele of the Steele Law Firm; Shane Broadwell of the Broadwell Hospitality Group; John Sharkey IV of Universal Metal; Sue Witmer of Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus; Mike Quenville of Pathfinder Bank; John Fitzgibbons, owner of the Fitzgibbons Agency; Atom Avery, local entrepreneur and owner of Avery Rental Properties & The Beacon Hotel; and Laurie O’Brien, owner of Port City Café & Red Sun Fire Roasting Company.

“The $25,000 prize was raised in partnership with private banks, local companies, and public and private institutions that see the importance in making an investment in Oswego County’s future entrepreneurs and economy,” Wheelock said.

Sponsors included the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Key Bank, Entergy Nuclear, National Association of Development Companies, New York Business Development Corporation, Operation Oswego County, SUNY Oswego, Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center, Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Pathfinder Bank, Fulton Savings Bank, C&S Companies, Barton & Loguidice, CenterState CEO, Launch NY, Chirello Advertising, Oswego County Business Magazine, and Mitchell’s Speedway Press.

In addition to Wheelock, the NGI Steering Committee include Tim Ames, Lakeside Artisans Cooperative; Pamela Caraccioli, SUNY Oswego; Steve Chirello, Chirello Advertising; John Halleron, SUNY Oswego Small Business Development Center; Jacqueline Thorpe, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Evelyn LiVoti, Operation Oswego County; Deana Michaels, Pathfinder Bank; Lauren Pistell, Shineman Foundation; Shawn Seale, Key Bank; Tucker Sholtes, SUNY Oswego student; John Trimble, C&S Companies; and Mary Vanouse, City of Oswego Community Development Office.

For more information, visit the web site at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI or contact Austin Wheelock by phone at 315-343-1545 or by email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.


October 22, 2014

Finalists Selected for 2014 Oswego County 'Next Great Idea' Business Plan Competition

Bookbrawl.com, Music Instrument Covers, Ontario Soap Company, and Party & Play Cafe have been selected as the four finalists for the 2014 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition- it was announced by Austin Wheelock, Chair of the NGI steering committee.

On Nov. 13, each finalist will give a 20-minute presentation on their business plan in-person to the panel of judges. Following the presentation, a luncheon and awards ceremony announcing the winner will be held at The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego. The keynote speaker will be Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development at SUNY Oswego.

"November 13th will mark the culmination of the 2014 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition," Wheelock said. "This year's finalists have worked extremely hard to position themselves to win $25,000 towards developing their business ventures here in Oswego County."

Finalist Bookbrawl.com and the business team led by Austin Rudd is an online platform headquartered in Oswego County that allows students to create their own textbook marketplaces on campuses to reduce the cost of books and supplies. Rudd has developed a unique marketing and referral system that sets them apart from their competitors. The company has also made a pledge to invest back into the communities in which it does business. A portion of each sale would go to local non-profits engaged with childhood literacy and learning.

Based on his experience in the music industry, Finalist Matthew Vacanti has identified an opportunity to develop a colorful and protective covering for string instruments like violins, violas, and cellos. This business would be called Music Instrument Covers. These products would be manufactured here in Oswego County and marketed worldwide to schools, professional musicians, and the general public.

Finalist Ontario Soap Company and owner, Heather Shambo will create luxury soaps and body care products using locally sourced ingredients from Oswego County. High quality local products used in the soap production such as chocolate, coffee beans, wine, etc. will be a focus of the business's marketing efforts, which will help to position the business and to create positive branding for Oswego County's agricultural products and local businesses.

Identifying a need for a quality children's play outlet in the Oswego area was the business opportunity catalyst for finalist Karen Crisafulli who has proposed an event and play location called Party and Play Café that would focus on children's entertainment but would also be adult friendly. This business would help encourage early age socialization in an indoor environment, with a healthy food and drink menu for children and adults.

This year's Next Great Idea competition received nineteen innovative ideas ranging from advanced manufacturing to health care to internet based platforms and tourism. These ideas were all from local and regional entrepreneurs who would like to develop or expand their business in Oswego County.

Some of the anticipated outcomes from this year's and future NGI competitions include, but are not limited to: developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurism in Oswego county; improving the quality of life for the community by bringing innovative and needed businesses and services to Oswego County; fighting the 'brain drain' by encouraging the best and brightest to stay here; creating new job opportunities and markets; and expanding the tax base, Wheelock said.

The $25,000 prize was raised in partnership with private banks, local companies, and public and private institutions that see the importance in making an investment in Oswego County's economic future. Financial and in-kind sponsors include: Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Key Bank, PathFinder Bank, Entergy Nuclear, New York Business Development Corp., NADCO, Operation Oswego County, SUNY Oswego, Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Centerstate CEO, Launch NY, C&S Companies, Chirello Advertising,Oswego County Business Magazine, and Mitchell's Speedway Press."

The Next Great Idea web site, www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, and details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, New York Business Development Corporation and other economic development agencies, Wheelock said.

For more information about the Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition, visit www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, or contact them at ngi@oswegocounty.org.


June 23, 2014

Seven Semi Finalists Selected for 2014 Oswego County 'Next Great Idea' Business Plan Competition

The 2014 Oswego County Next Great Idea Business Plan Competition has announced the seven semi-finalists that are competing for a $25,000 prize towards the start of their business in Oswego County. In this, its third event, the Next Great Idea committee received 19 business concept proposals. The seven that were chosen by a panel of ten judges cover a wide range of industries from manufacturing, childhood recreation, internet-based platforms, tourism, and agri-business.

The Next Great Idea semi-finalists include: American Machine Design and Fabrication, LLC. Owner Jacob Cipriano proposes to serve the manufacturing sector in Oswego County and beyond by engineering and manufacturing automation solutions for production environments to make our manufacturing companies more efficient and competitive. Some of the products would include conveyor systems, robotics, pneumatics, and servomechanisms.

Outdoor Educational Expeditions and its creator, Jennifer Mays, will provide customized outdoor and educational expeditions throughout Oswego County leveraging its abundant natural and historical resources. This business will promote Oswego County as a unique tourism destination and provide healthy lifestyle activities.

Through her unique experiences and findings as a cancer survivor, Judy Campany has proposed Campany Oncology Products to develop oncology specific products for cancer patients and survivors. Her mission is for her business to be known as the premiere patient recovery company. This company would leverage existing local manufacturing companies to produce the products and establish a unique niche business in Oswego County.

Identifying a need for a quality children's play outlet in the Oswego area was the business opportunity catalyst for Karen Crisafulli who has proposed an event and play location called Party and Play Café that would focus on children's entertainment but would also be adult friendly. This business would help encourage early age socialization in an indoor environment, with a healthy food and drink menu for children and adults.

Based on his experience in the music industry, Matthew Vacanti has identified an opportunity to develop a colorful and protective covering for string instruments like violins, violas, and cellos. This business would be called the Violin Wrap. These products would be manufactured here in Oswego County and marketed worldwide to schools, professional musicians, and the general public.

Ontario Soap Company and owner, Heather Shambo will create luxury soaps and body care products using locally sourced ingredients from Oswego County. High quality local products used in the soap production such as chocolate, coffee beans, wine, etc. will be a focus of the business's marketing efforts, which will help to position the business and to create positive branding for Oswego County's agricultural products and local businesses.

Bookbrawl.com and the business team led by Austin Rudd is an online platform headquartered in Oswego County that allows students to create their own textbook marketplaces on campuses to reduce the cost of books and supplies. Rudd has developed a unique marketing and referral system that sets them apart from their competitors. The company has also made a pledge to invest back into the communities in which it does business. A portion of each sale would go to local non-profits engaged with childhood literacy and learning.

"Each of the semi-finalist businesses selected to move forward are looking to capitalize on a realistic opportunity they have identified in the market which will benefit Oswego County through the jobs they will create and the advantages they will provide the existing companies and residents in Oswego County," stated NGI Chairperson, Austin Wheelock.

The next step for each of the semi-finalists will be to develop a full business plan by September 5th, 2014 that will include a detailed narrative on the business, financial statements including sources and uses of funds and projections, and key supporting information such as market research, resumes, and other pertinent data.

Other than awarding one winning business $25,000, some of the anticipated outcomes from the Next Great Idea program include but are not limited to: developing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurism in Oswego county; improving the quality of life for the community by bringing innovative and needed businesses and services to Oswego County; fighting the 'brain drain' by encouraging the best and brightest to stay local; creating new job opportunities and markets; and expanding the tax base.

The $25,000 award was raised in partnership with private institutions, private companies and public organizations that see the importance in making a proactive investment in Oswego County's economic future. NGI sponsors include: Shineman Foundation, Key Bank, PathFinder Bank, Entergy Nuclear, National Association of Development Companies, Operation Oswego County, SUNY Oswego, C&S Companies, Chirello Advertising, Oswego County Business Magazine, and Mitchell's Speedway Press.

The NGI web site at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, and details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other economic development agencies.

For more information about the Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition, visit the web site at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, or by email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.


March 17, 2014

'Next Great Idea' Featured on NewsChannel9's 'Newsmakers' Show

PHOTO CAPTION: The Next Great Idea: 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition" (NGI) and economic development in Oswego County was the subject of the March 16 broadcast of Newsmakers on Newschannel9 hosted by Dan Cummings. Cummings, far left, interviews Pam Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development at SUNY Oswego and Austin Wheelock, economic development specialist for Operation Oswego County, Inc. The show can be seen in its entirety online at Localsyr.com. Entries for this year's competition for a new business or business expansion in Oswego County, which culminates with $25,000 awarded to the winner at a November luncheon, are being accepted through April 11. For more information, visit the web site at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI or by email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.

VIDEO: Click photo to watch video!


March 7, 2014

Judges Selected for Next Great Idea 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition

The panel of judges has been secured for The Next Great Idea (NGI) 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition, according to Austin Wheelock, economic development specialist for Operation Oswego County and Co-Chair of NGI.

"The Next Great Idea is the result of business and community leaders joining together to launch a competition that encourages entrepreneurs to commit to new business development in Oswego County and offers a $25,000 prize to help make a dream come true," Wheelock said.

Judges for the event are Jeff Grimshaw of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations; Adam Gagas of Breakwall Asset Management; Kimberly Steele of the Steele Law Firm; Shane Broadwell of the Broadwell Hospitality Group; John Sharkey IV of Universal Metal; Sue Witmer of Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus; Mike Quenville of Pathfinder Bank; John Fitzgibbons, owner of the Fitzgibbons Agency; Atom Avery, local entrepreneur and owner of Avery Rental Properties & The Beacon Hotel; and Laurie O'Brien, owner of Port City Cafe & Red Sun Fire Roasting Company.

Judges were selected based on their local business knowledge and expertise in the fields of operations, management, financing, and entrepreneurship.

The first phase of the 2014 NGI Competition is currently underway and the deadline for submitting business concept proposals is April 11, 2014. The entire competition will consist of three phases that will require semi-finalists selected from the first phase to develop full business plans and, in the third phase, finalists will make their "pitch" in person to the panel of judges. This panel will determine which proposals will be selected to enter the subsequent phases culminating in the winner being chosen and honored at a luncheon on November 13th of 2014. Ideas that are not selected will receive written feedback from the judges of how to improve their proposals for the future.

"We've designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition," Wheelock said. "If we have one $25,000 prize winner come out of this, but several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County."

The event web site, www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"The NGI partnership believes that Oswego County offers a wealth of resources and opportunities for businesses to start and flourish here. We are all extremely excited to see what great ideas the competition participants generate," Wheelock said.

Financial and in-kind contributions that support this program come from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation of Oswego, Operation Oswego County, the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Key Bank, Pathfinder Bank, Chirello Advertising, and Mitchell's Speedway Press.

For more information, visit the web site at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI or by email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.


January 21, 2014

Richard S. Shineman Foundation is Primary Sponsor for 'Next Great Idea' Competition

The Richard S. Shneman Foundation is the primary sponsor for the $25,000 "The Next Great Idea": 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition" (NGI), it was announced by Austin Wheelock, co-chair of the NGI steering committee. "The Shineman Foundation's leadership contribution has helped to both propel our efforts to market this year's competition and attract additional sponsorship," Wheelock said. "We are extremely grateful for their support."

"The Shineman Foundation wants to invest in projects that have true potential to be catalysts for change in our community," said Lauren Pistell, foundation executive director and NGI steering committee member. "What better way to do that than by supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of the Next Great Idea Business Plan Competition which uncovers ideas and businesses that can transform the economic landscape of Oswego County?"

The Richard S. Shineman Foundation is a private foundation established in 2012 by the bequest of Richard S. Shineman, a tenured professor of chemistry at SUNY Oswego. Its vision is to become a "Catalyst for Change" across Central New York and, in particular, Oswego County. The Foundation uses its financial resources to work towards this vision by building the capacity of not-for-profit organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.

This year's NGI competition, which culminates with $25,000 awarded to the winner at an awards luncheon in November 2014, will begin accepting Business Concept Proposals January 22 through April 11, 2014.

The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition began in 2008 when economic development officials along with business and community leaders came together to develop a program to encourage entrepreneurism and develop a solution for a problem many businesses find when getting started- access to equity capital.

In addition to the Shineman Foundation, financial contributions that support this program come from Operation Oswego County, the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Key Bank, and Pathfinder Bank.

The $25,000 equity prize can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other economic development agencies and programs.

Since the program began, it has made the dream of owning a business come true for two companies. Lakeside Artisans Cooperative won the 2010 competition and Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, (OBT), was the winner of the inaugural NGI competition in 2008. Lakeside Artisans is a start-up, for-profit cooperative that has developed a retail and gallery showcase in Oswego's Canal Commons to promote local artwork and artisans' crafts. They have grown from a core group of six artists to over twenty, and continue to expand.

OBT, a Fulton-based manufacturing company, developed the DiveBud? Scuba Safety Platform which is designed to be safer than its competitors and to appeal to the recreational and commercial diving market. The DiveBud is a floating marker with a reflective flag and LED beacon that is tethered to the diver below.

The first phase of the 2014 NGI Competition will formally begin on January 22, 2014, and the deadline for submitting proposals is April 11, 2014. The entire competition will consist of three phases that will require the selected participants to develop full business plans and make their "pitch" in person to a panel of judges. The judging panel will be composed of local bankers, business owners, venture capitalists, and angel investors. This panel will determine which proposals will be selected to enter the subsequent phases culminating in the winner being chosen and honored at a luncheon in late 2014. Ideas that are not selected will receive written feedback from the judges of how to improve their proposals for the future.

"We've designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition," Wheelock said. "If we have one $25,000 prize winner come out of this, but several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County."

For more information, visit the website at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, which includes an overview of the event, the application, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, and partners. You may also call Austin Wheelock at 315-343-1545 or email at ngi@oswegocounty.org. For more information on the Shineman Foundation, Pistell can be contacted at lauren@shinemanfoundation.org or visit www.shinemanfoundation.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: Austin Wheelock, co-chair for The Next Great Idea": 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition" (NGI), thanks Lauren Pistell, executive director of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation for their support as primary sponsor of the competition. Entries will be accepted from Jan. 22 through April 11. More information can be found at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, or by calling Austin Wheelock at 315-343-1545, or emailing ngi@oswegocounty.org. For more information on the Shineman Foundation, Pistell can be contacted at lauren@shinemanfoundation.org or visit www.shinemanfoundation.org.


December 10, 2013

Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition Announces 2014 Program

“The Next Great Idea: 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition” (NGI) has announced this year’s competition which culminates with $25,000 awarded to the winner at an awards luncheon in November 2014, said Austin Wheelock, Co-Chair of the NGI Steering Committee. The NGI competition will begin accepting Business Concept Proposals January 22, 2014.

The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition began in 2008 when economic development officials along with business and community leaders came together to develop a program to encourage entrepreneurism and develop a solution for a problem many businesses find when getting started- access to equity capital.

“We knew we had a lot of great business ideas in the community but the recurring obstacle we kept finding when trying to assist businesses was a lack of equity for companies to get off the ground or to go to a bank and obtain traditional financing,” Wheelock added. “We were losing companies and talented entrepreneurs to areas that had these types of programs and cultures of entrepreneurism in place.”

Financial contributions that support this program come from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation of Oswego, Operation Oswego County, the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Key Bank, and Pathfinder Bank.

In addition, the $25,000 equity prize can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other economic development agencies and programs.

Since the program began, it has made the dream of owning a business come true for two companies. Lakeside Artisans Cooperative won the 2010 competition and Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, (OBT), was the winner of the inaugural NGI competition in 2008. Lakeside Artisans is a start-up, for-profit cooperative that has developed a retail and gallery showcase in Oswego’s Canal Commons to promote local artwork and artisans’ crafts. They have grown from a core group of six artists to over twenty, and continue to expand.

OBT, a Fulton-based manufacturing company, developed the DiveBud Scuba Safety Platform which is designed to be safer than its competitors and to appeal to the recreational and commercial diving market. The DiveBud is a floating marker with a reflective flag and LED beacon that is tethered to the diver below.

The first phase of the 2014 NGI Competition will formally begin on January 22, 2014, and the deadline for submitting proposals is April 11, 2014. The entire competition will consist of three phases that will require the selected participants to develop full business plans and make their "pitch" in person to a panel of judges. The judging panel will be composed of local bankers, business owners, venture capitalists, and angel investors. This panel will determine which proposals will be selected to enter the subsequent phases culminating in the winner being chosen and honored at a luncheon in late 2014. Ideas that are not selected will receive written feedback from the judges of how to improve their proposals for the future.

“We’ve designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition,” Wheelock said. “If we have one $25,000 prize winner come out of this, but several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County.”

For more information, visit the website at www.oswegocounty.org/NGI, which includes an overview of the event, the application, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, and partners. You may also call Austin Wheelock at 315-343-1545 or email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.

PHOTO CAPTION:Lakeside Artisans accepting their award from 2010 NGI officials. From left to right Jeff Grimshaw, Larry Perras, Allen Bjorkman, Michele Southgate, Tim Ames, Austin Wheelock, L. Michael Treadwell.



June 1, 2010

Judges in Place for Oswego County's "Next Great Idea" $25,000 Business Plan Competition

“The Next Great Idea: 2010 Oswego County Business Plan Competition” (NGI) has secured its panel of seven judges for this year’s entries. $25,000 will be awarded to the winner at a November luncheon.

This year’s judges include: Barbara Bateman, Alliance Bank; Paul Williams, Felix Schoeller North America; Pam Roach, Hart & Stone General Store; Roy Clark, Dunkin Donuts; Joe Fiumara, Fulton Community Development Agency; Paul Vickery, Vickery Insurance; and Steve Osborne, Fulton Savings Bank.

The judges will evaluate the executive summaries and up to 5-10 semi-finalists will be selected for round two. These semi-finalists are required to submit a business plan that follows competition requirements by Sept. 6, 2010. The winning team will be selected and announced at a luncheon in Nov. 9, 2010.

Sponsors for this year’s event include: Alliance Bank, Fulton Savings Bank, Entergy, New York Business Development Corporation, Pathfinder Bank, Operation Oswego County, Small Business Development Center, National Grid, C&S Companies, Chirello Advertising, and Mitchell Printing.

Media sponsors for the event are Oswego County Business Magazine, OswegoCountyToday.Com, The Palladium Times and Your News Now (YNN).

The web site, www.oswegocounty.org/bizcomp.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information.


Jan. 29, 2010

Oswego County's 2010 "Next Great Idea" Call for Entries, 2008 Winner Cites Award as Critical to Success

“The Next Great Idea: 2010 Oswego County Business Plan Competition” (NGI) is calling for entries for this year’s competition which culminates with $25,000 awarded to the winner at a November awards luncheon, said Austin Wheelock, economic development specialist for Operation Oswego County (OOC).

Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, (OBT), winner of the first NGI competition in 2008 has been able to continue to grow as a result of the prize. “Winning this competition has helped us move forward by leaps and bounds,” said Paul Grimshaw, Ocean Blue’s co-owner.

“The NGI timetable calls for eligible teams to submit an executive summary of their idea by May 3, 2010,” Wheelock said. “A team of judges will evaluate the executive summaries and up to 10-15 semi-finalists will be selected for round two. These semi-finalists are required to submit a business plan that follows competition requirements by Sept. 6, 2010. The winning team will be selected and announced at a awards ceremony on Nov. 9, 2010.”

OBT is owned and operated by Grimshaw, a marine biologist, and Rick Harvell, manufacturing technologist. The Fulton-based company has developed the DiveBudTM Scuba Safety Platform which is intended to be safer than its current competitors, and has appeal in the recreational diving market. The DiveBud is a floating marker with a reflective flag and LED beacon that is tethered to the diver below.

“The dangers to divers from boaters and jet skiers make a bull shark look safe,” Grimshaw said. “The DiveBud helps divers be seen and be safe.”

Since winning the 2008 NGI competition, OBT has also developed a DiveBud self-coiling scuba reel, and has plans for modifying the equipment for commercial diving and Homeland Security applications. The products are manufactured in Oswego County and sold in all major diving markets including the Great Lakes region, Florida and California. More information is available on their website, www.oceanbluetech.com.

“NGI is the result of business and community leaders joining together to create this competition that encourages entrepreneurs to commit to new business development in Oswego County and offers a $25,000 prize to help make a dream come true,” Wheelock said.

The web site, www.oswegocounty.org/bizcomp.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $25,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local
banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other economic development agencies.
The winner will also receive two free submissions to New York’s’ Creative Core $200,000, 2011 Emerging Business Competition.

To assist the semi-finalists, SUNY Oswego’s Office for Business and Community Relations will offer a free optional workshop in June June to provide additional support for the business plan submission.

On Nov. 9, the finalists must give a 20-minute presentation on their business plan in-person to the panel of judges. Following the presentation, a luncheon and awards ceremony announcing the winner will be held. The $25,000 prize must be used to start or expand a business in Oswego County.

“Our organizing team believes that Oswego County offers a wealth of resources and opportunities for businesses to start and flourish here. We are all extremely excited to see what great ideas competition participants generate,” Wheelock said.

Media sponsor for the event is Time Warner’s News 10 Now.

For more information, visit the web site at www.oswegocounty.org/bizcomp.htm, or Wheelock can be contacted at 315-343-1545 or at ngi@oswegocounty.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: Ocean Blue Technoloties, LLC, (OBT),the 2008 winner of The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition (NGI), made a presentation to event sponsors on their company’s progress recently at SUNY Oswego. From left: Rick Harvell, co-owner OBT; Grimshaw; Thomas Greco, mortgage loan originator, Fulton Savings Bank; Joy Campbell, assistant vice president, PathFinder Bank; and Michael Quenville, vice president/business development officer, PathFinder Bank.