The competition is sponsored by Catawba College's Ketner School of Business as a way to promote entrepreneurship and an understating of the business planning process for Rowan County residents.
The competition invites participation in one of three categories – 1) high school, 2) college and 3) adult and each division competes for a $1,000 first place prize, a $500 second place prize and a $250 third place prize.
There is no registration fee and competitors may register online beginning March 1st at www.catawba.edu/bigidea.
Participants will be asked to submit a broad summary of their business concept online. The top three competitors in each division will be assigned a mentor(s) who will help guide and refine their business plan development. A completed Business Model Canvas, along with a two-to-three minute video pitching the business idea, will be submitted to the judges for final review and ranking.
Dr. Pam Thompson, KSOB interim dean, said she sees this year's competition as "the first annual."
"Eric Page's visit to Rowan County that was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce added rocket fuel to our competition," Thompson said of the Big Idea Business Plan Competition. "After his visit, we were able to introduce our idea to a group of influential people who support it. Our goal is to educate students and adults about the benefits of entrepreneurship and starting a small business.
"We want to sow the seeds of entrepreneurship for the future Ralph Ketners in our county," she concluded, noting that a generous grant from Mr. Ketner made possible both the competition and the $1,750 per division prizes.
Dr. Phillip Frank, a visiting professor of marketing in the Ketner School of Business and co-chair of the competition with Thompson, explained the mentoring aspect of the competition makes it unique. "It is in line with Catawba's core values and our mission of providing an education rich in personal attention.
"We designed the competition to be supportive to anyone interested in beginning a business. We have mentors and judges representing leaders and activists from top business, government, educational and non-profit firms in the area who will help and encourage participates in their business pursuits. Rowan County is rich in innovativeness and character, and we hope that these types of events will serve to stimulate these ideas into actions."
Winners in the Big Idea Business Plan Competition will be announced at an awards ceremony slated at 6 p.m. April 30th in Tom Smith Auditorium of Ketner Hall on Catawba College's campus.