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Juniata Students Compete in Business Plan Competition

Eighteen Juniata College students have entered and are competing to win some money in a campus competition to find the best business plan. The Juniata College Accounting, Business & Economics Department, Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Young Entrepreneurs Society launched a student business plan competition in early September. The grand prize of $2,500 is being underwritten by The (Huntingdon) Daily News and Pennsylvania Business Central.

Nick Felice, JCEL executive director, said a total of 18 students are working on 17 business ideas (there is one team of two). The competition began with a workshop session Sept. 13, where ABE Professor Jim Donaldson, John Hille, executive vice president of Juniata College and Richard Snyder, a co-owner of Z-Band, Carlisle and Felice presented information about the business planning process.

Over the past six weeks, students participating in the competition have been hard at work drafting their plans and meeting with their assigned mentors. "Each participating student was required to maintain contact with their mentor for an hour per week through the process of drafting their business plan," Felice said. "The mentor system has given students a more personalized resource. Mentors are generally alumni from Juniata College who want to give back and help the students."

While writing their business plans, six students have taken advantage of the college's Next Step Fellowship program, which pay's the student or students to research their plan and utilize the resources available at JCEL office. "It's like a work-study program," Felice said. "The students are paid $7.25 per hour for (up to) eight hours per week to come to our Sill Business Incubator to work on their plans."

The written business plans were due on Oct. 20. Between that day and Nov. 1, the plans will be evaluated/scored and the top five submissions will be selected to compete in the final round. Those students will have two weeks to prepare an oral presentation of their business idea, to be given at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Brumbaugh Academic Center. Each individual (or group) will have 15 minutes to present their plan followed by a five-minute Q&A period. A panel of judges will deliberate and then select a winner at 9 p.m. that evening.

For the top five individuals/teams whose business plan makes the cut, each is guaranteed at least $625 cash. But one of the five will be selected as the overall winner of the competition and will receive a grand prize of $2,500 (in which the $625 is included). But it doesn't stop there for the grand prize winner. If the winner acts on their business plan and begins operations, JCEL will invest an additional $2,500 in their venture.

"Support from The Daily News and Pennsylvania Business Central is very important to our effort to increase entrepreneurial education. The underwriting of our grand prize frees up resources to help us promote/encourage other types of engagements/involvements. We are very grateful for the financial and volunteer support, being given by TDN & PBC Publisher George "Scoop" Sample, who has graciously agreed to serve on the final round judges panel," Felice said.

Also, Juniata is planning to live stream the oral presentations over the Internet. If you can't make it in person, go to www.ustream.tv/channel/jcellive to tune in that evening.