Three hundred ad twelve students enrolled at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities are preparing to become entrepreneurs and create new businesses as part of the first annual PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition. The first place winner will be awarded a grand prize of $10,000 to be used to create his/her business. The deadline to submit business plans is December 31, 2011. An awards dinner and ceremony is planned for March 2012 in Harrisburg.
Participating students represent over 50 academic majors and attend Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities. Of the 312 students participating, 12% are graduate students, 46% are seniors, 19% are juniors, 11% are freshmen and 11% are sophomores.
Clarion University has 21 student teams in the competition, representing the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration and College of Education and Human Services. These students have access to one-on-one assistance from the Clarion University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as they develop and finalize their business plans.
“We couldn’t be happier with the turn out and are very excited to see the finished plans,” said Dr. Kevin Roth, a Clarion University faculty member and director of the Clarion University SBDC. “It is great to see so many students who are committed to the competition this first year. With results like these, the competition may easily become an annual event.”
The Clarion University SBDC is an outreach program that helps businesses start, grow and prosper by providing entrepreneurs with the education, information and tools to create successful ventures. The competition was launched in fall 2011. A series of live online learning sessions focused on business plan writing are being presented by Robert Weber, senior fellow at the Wharton School of Business.
The Student Business Plan Competition is made possible through sponsorship by the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU), platinum level,, and J.P. Morgan, bronze level.
“PSECU is extremely proud to be a part of the PASSHE Business Plan Competition,” said Barb Bowker, PSECU vice president of marketing. “Some of our greatest innovations over the past few decades have come from young people with an idea and a lot of motivation. Visionaries like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg had little more than that at the beginning of their careers, and we are honored to be a part of a program to find the next generation of business leaders here in Pennsylvania.”
The competition is also supported by a Keystone Innovation Grant (KIG) funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
“We are impressed by the number of students participating and inspired by the creative business ideas generated by PASSHE students,” said Brian Pedone, Entrepreneurial Leadership Center coordinator at East Stroudsburg and coordinator of the PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition. “This clearly shows that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well across the fourteen PASSHE universities.”