Harrisburg – A strong business plan is essential to a company’s success, especially in a struggling economy. A good plan starts with a good idea.
Students from the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities – many of them budding entrepreneurs themselves – were invited in the fall to develop a plan for a start-up business and to submit it in the first PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition.
Twenty-five students have been chosen as finalists in the competition and will be recognized during a program to be held beginning at 6:30 p.m., April 2, in the East Wing Rotunda of the state Capitol. Winners of the competition will be announced at the conclusion of the event.
Made possible through a Keystone Innovation Grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the sponsorship of the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU) and J.P. Morgan, the competition was designed to provide student entrepreneurs a real-world opportunity to pitch their original business plans and to win funds to assist in the start-up of their businesses. PSECU President Gregory Smith will participate in the awards programs along with PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Guido M. Pichini and PASSHE Chancellor Dr. John C. Cavanaugh.
Winners of the completion will be able to use grant funds for business plan development; product prototype; legal, accounting, marketing and commercialization support; and/or to purchase specialized equipment if essential to their business development.
The finalists in the competition are:
Andrew Milner of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Michael Rhoads, Matthew Lacey and Chaz Sztroin, all of California University of Pennsylvania; Christopher Rogers of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania; and Brian Chase and Thomas Pisarchick, both of Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
Also, Joseph De Bartolo, Kyle Ellis, Rhonda Walker-Footman and Jonathan Weber, all of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania; Christopher Burley of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania; and Ticairra Bazemore and Raj Murthy, both of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Also, Christina Becker, Michael Grimm, Allyssa Kelley, Taylor Kent, Joshua Kester, Robin Koper, Benjamin Lawless, Kristen Maehrer and Kaitlyn Tiger, all of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
Also, Tyler Walstrom of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania; Daniella Singleton of Millersville University of Pennsylvania; and Dylan Windemaker of West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
The competition was launched during the fall semester and was open to all of the nearly 120,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the 14 PASSHE universities. A total of 236 students submitted business ideas in the competition. Of those, 49 business venture profiles were selected as semi-finalists.
The 25 finalists were selected by a panel of judges that included Michael Gildea, executive director of the Pennsylvania Angel Network; Pam Martin, director of the South Central Region of Ben Franklin Technology Partners; James Steeley, assistant vice president of finance for the Pennsylvania State Employee Credit Union; Finesse Cobb, vice president of Apparel, Inc.; and Michael March, an analyst with Osage Venture Partners.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg.