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September 20, 2018

“The Next Great Idea” 2018 Business Plan Competition Winner Announced2018 NGI Winner Wired Telecom

Wired Telecom was named the 2018 “Next Great Idea” (NGI) Oswego County Business Competition winner at a reception held Tuesday, September 18, at The Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center, Oswego. The company was awarded $50,000 to expand their business in Oswego County.

“It was a great honor to present our fourth NGI award,” said Austin Wheelock, NGI chair and Deputy Director of 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 Wired Telecom is an excellent example of this and truly is the ‘Next Great Idea’ for Oswego County.”

Wired Telecom, an early stage company owned by Ed Alberts and headquartered in Oswego, provides standardized IT and communication services focused towards medium and large sized commercial franchise companies nationwide. The business grew out of necessity as Ed’s other businesses could not find a reliable IT service so they developed an in-house solution which proved so successful they believed it could be scaled into a business of its own. Alberts sees great potential for business growth with local company payroll projected to exceed $3,000,000 within 3 years.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for the $50,000 Next Great Idea award and will use it to grow our team with local job opportunities and training for installers and IT support professionals,” said Ed Alberts from WIRED Telecom. “We would like to thank the committee and sponsors including the Shineman Foundation for bringing the NGI to Oswego County."

The other Finalists for the $50,000 prize were SUNY Oswego graduate student Fabio Machado and his startup company, CHARTA; Matthew Cullipher, of Hope Springs; and Jake Metcalf and Kevin Spillett of Oz Angling.

Master of Ceremonies for the event was Dan Cummings, news anchor for News Channel 9 in Syracuse.

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 Chena Tucker of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations; David Dano of Operation Oswego County, Inc.; Adam Gagas of Breakwall Asset Management; Allison Nelson of the Nelson Law Firm; George Broadwell Jr. of the Broadwell Hospitality Group; Vinny Lobdell Jr. of Healthway Products; Carla Deshaw of Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus; Ron G. Tascarella of Pathfinder Bank; John Fitzgibbons, owner of the Fitzgibbons Agency; Shane Stepien of Step One Creative; and Dr. Sarfraz Mian, professor at SUNY Oswego School of Business.

“The $50,000 prize was raised in partnership with local companies, private banks, business organizations, 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, Operation Oswego County, the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency, New York Business Development Corporation, SUNY Oswego, Lake Ontario Event & Conference Center, Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Pathfinder Bank, National Grid, C&S Companies, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Centerstate CEO, Chirello Advertising, and Oswego County Business Magazine.

In addition to Wheelock, the NGI Steering Committee includes Pamela Caraccioli, SUNY Oswego; Steve Chirello, Chirello Advertising; John Halleron, SUNY Oswego Small Business Development Center; Katie Toomey, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Evelyn LiVoti, Operation Oswego County; John Trimble, C&S Companies; Tim Stahl, City of Oswego Community & Economic Development Office; and Garrette Weiss, Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation.

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


September 6, 2018

Four Finalists Selected for 2018 'Next Great Idea' Oswego County Business Plan Competition

CHARTA, Hope Springs, Oz Angling, and Wired Telecom have been selected as the four finalists for the 2018 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition- it was announced by Austin Wheelock, Chair of the NGI steering committee.

On September 14th each finalist will give a 20-minute presentation on their business plan in-person to the panel of judges. On September 18th, a luncheon and awards ceremony announcing the winner will be held at The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center. The master of ceremonies will be Dan Cummings, News Anchor for WSYR News Channel 9.

“September 18th will mark the culmination of the 2018 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition,” Wheelock said. “This year’s Finalists have worked extremely hard to position themselves to win $50,000 towards developing their business ventures here in Oswego County.”

Finalist Charta, a digital and social media platform led by SUNY Oswego Graduate student Fabio Machado, will empower the millennial generation to both travel and explore local culture utilizing their mobile application technology for a more fulfilling experience and to save money. The business team will utilize resources at SUNY Oswego to develop the technology as well as serve as a test market for the business. Charta would use the NGI funds to offer paid internships for the initial technology talent at the college, start a sales team, and develop marketing materials.

Hope Springs, a health and wellness beverage company led by Matthew Cullipher, will bottle emoliente, a popular South American beverage with huge potential for growth in the US market. The company is an expansion of a successful café in Central New York and will bring their own twist on this beverage to a wider audience through state-wide and eventual national distribution. Hope Springs plans to reinvest their profits into local and international community outreach programs. If selected, Hope Springs would use the NGI funds to lease production space, acquire bottling equipment, and purchase raw materials.

Finalist Oz Angling, led by Jake Metcalf and Kevin Spillett, is a recreational fishing business that will sell bait, tackle, apparel and fishing accessories, and value added fishing services to the greater Oswego market. The business will develop high quality online content on social media and other digital platforms to differentiate itself from competitors and to market Oswego as a high quality fishing destination increasing local tourism. The NGI funding will help Oz Angling reach their operational goals faster and also help them launch their own fishing tackle product and apparel line which has the potential to create additional local manufacturing jobs.

Wired, the business team led by Ryan Baldwin and Ed Alberts, provides specialized IT and communication services focused towards medium and large commercial chain and franchise businesses. The business grew out of necessity as Ed’s own businesses could not find reliable IT solutions so they developed an in-house solution which proved so successful they believed it could be scaled into a business of its own. Wired would use the $50,000 NGI funding to purchase special equipment and hire more employees to allow them to expand the business and serve the entire East Coast.

This year’s Next Great Idea competition received a record number of submissions with 33 innovative ideas ranging from advanced manufacturing to agri-business 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.

The $50,000 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, Operation Oswego County, PathFinder Bank, New York Business Development Corp., SUNY Oswego, Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, C&S Companies, National Grid, County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency, Centerstate CEO, Greater Oswego Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Chirello Advertising, and Oswego County Business Magazine.”

The Next Great Idea web site, www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $50,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $50,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $500,000 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.

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


March 19, 2018

Judges Announced for Next Great Idea 2018 Oswego County Business Plan Competition

The panel of judges has been secured for The Next Great Idea (NGI) 2018 Oswego County Business Plan Competition, according to Austin Wheelock, deputy director 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 $50,000 prize to help make a dream come true,” Wheelock said.

Judges for the event are Adam Gagas, founder of Breakwall Asset Management; Carla Deshaw, executive dean of Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus; Ron Tascarella, Jr., vice president at Pathfinder Bank; John Fitzgibbons, owner of the Fitzgibbons Agency; Chena Tucker, executive director of the Oswego County Workforce Development Board; David Dano, Business Finance Director at Operation Oswego County; Dr. Sarfraz Mian, professor at SUNY Oswego; Allison Nelson, owner of Nelson Law, Shane Stepien, president of Step One Creative; Vinny Lobdell, Jr., of HealthWay Home Products and the Kallet Theater; and George Broadwell, Jr., of Broadwell Hospitality Group.

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 2018 NGI Competition is currently underway and the judges are reviewing business concept proposals. This year’s competition received a record number of business concept proposals with 33 submissions by the March 1st deadline. The proposals represent a vast range of industries including tourism, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, and agri-business. Approximately half of the submissions were by women entrepreneurs and the vast majority of submissions were from Oswego County residents.

The entire competition will consist of three phases that will require semi-finalists advancing to the second 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 September 18, 2018. 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 $50,000 prize winner come out of this, plus several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County.”

The event web site, www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $50,000 prize, sponsors, partners and contact information. If the winning business will require additional funding, the $50,000 can potentially be leveraged for financing 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.

For more information, visit the website at http://www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm or by email at ngioswegocounty@gmail.com.


January 8, 2018

Deadline Extended for $50,000 Next Grewt Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition

“The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition” (NGI) has extended its deadline for entries to March 1st 2018, a month past the original deadline.

The business plan competition is open to all entrepreneurs with a new business concept and existing businesses looking to add a new product or service.

Examples of eligible businesses include restaurants, stores, tech based businesses, and businesses manufacturing a product as long as the proposed business will be based in Oswego County.

Participation in the competition is $25 per entry and there is free business plan assistance from the Small Business Development Center that operates out of the Business Resource Center in Oswego, NY.

The first place winner will be announced in September 2018 and receive $50,000 towards implementing their business plan. All participants will receive written feedback from the panel of judges on how to improve their business proposal.

“We’ve designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition,” Austin Wheelock, Deputy Director of Operation Oswego County and NGI Chairperson, said. “If we have one $50,000 prize winner come out of this, plus several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County.”

Past winners of the Next Great Idea competition include Arco Art (pictured above), Lakeside Artisans, and Ocean Blue Technology.

The competition web site, http://www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, application guidelines, sponsors, and contact information.


November 1, 2017

Oswego County's 'Next Great Idea' Call for Entries

"The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition" (NGI) is calling for entries for this year's competition which culminates with $50,000 awarded to the winner, said NGI Chairperson Austin Wheelock, deputy director for Operation Oswego County (OOC). The NGI competition will begin accepting Business Concept Proposals Nov. 1, 2017 through February 1, 2018.

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 entrepreneurship and develop a solution for a problem many businesses find when getting started- access to seed 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 entrepreneurship in place."

Past NGI competition winner, ArcoArt, was awarded $25,000 in 2014 to design and create unique string instrument covers out of fabric. Lakeside Artisans Cooperative won the 2010 competition and Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, (OBT), won the first NGI competition in 2008. Lakeside Artisans, now known as Riverside Artisans, is a for-profit art cooperative that has developed a retail showcase in Oswego's Canal Commons to promote local artwork and artisans' crafts. OBT, a Fulton-based company, developed the DiveBud™ Scuba Safety Platform for the recreational diving market.

"We're excited this year to double the prize to a $50,000 award which will help attract even bigger and better ideas to the competition and show the region and beyond that we are serious about encouraging entrepreneurship in Oswego County."

The entire competition will consist of three phases, starting with the Business Concept Proposal which will be due by February 1, 2018; and from there judges will select semi-finalists to move on to develop full business plans due in June 2018; and NGI culminates with the entrepreneurs making their "pitch" in person to a panel of judges in September 2018. The judging panel will be composed of local bankers, business owners, business service professionals, and investors. 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 $50,000 prize winner come out of this, but several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County."

The competition web site http://www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, application guidelines, sponsors, partners and contact information. In addition, the $50,000 can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $500,000 in partnership with local banks, Operation Oswego County, Inc., the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices and other partner economic development agencies.

Wheelock can be contacted at 315-343-1545 or at ngioswegocounty@gmail.com.