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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.