University News

SUU Students Snag 'Best Business Idea' Honors

Published: December 03, 2008 | Category: Community Outreach

Two Southern Utah University students took home third place honors and another an honorable mention at the Tri-County annual Best Business Idea Competition sponsored by the SUU Small Business Development Center, School of Business, the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce and the Iron County/Cedar City Economic Development Agency.

Over 50 imaginative and promising business ideas were submitted for judging. Ten finalists were chosen to present their business idea orally to the panel of judges and based upon those presentations, the five winners were chosen.

Marlon Stone, from Cedar City, and Brent Hasty, of Milford, took first place in the competition – earning $5,000 to help progress their business plan for alternative fuels development using algae.

Following close behind, plans for classroom instruction in renewable energy technology took second place – garnering a $3,000 incentive toward continued development. The team behind this idea included brothers Mark, Lenn, Piete and Steven Florence, all from Cedar City.

Students Craig Corry and Scott Albrecht, both from Cedar City, took home a $1,000 third-place award for their concept of a trough heater for farmers. And senior Leesa Ricci, a communication and political science major from Tooele, Utah, was awarded $500 and an honorable mention for her pilot project launching an international freelance news broadcast presentation.

The second honorable mention within this year’s competition went to Elayna Wightman’s idea concerning an interactive calendar system. Wightman is from Cedar City.

Covering a wide range of business possibilities, this year’s winning entries represent practical and innovative business ideas and have the potential to meet the sponsors’ goal of supporting the development of small businesses in the Tri-County area (Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties).

Craig Isom, Director of SUU’s Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center said, “It is very rewarding to see the response to the competition challenge. There’s lots of talent in our community and many untapped ideas and opportunities. We’re happy to get the creative juices flowing and have so much interest in this kind of event. What’s most rewarding is seeing so many different resources come together (SUU, public and private) for a very important and common cause. We extend our thanks to all who participated. Now we just have to keep the ball rolling and support the launch of new, successful businesses, and build upon this start to a new community partnership.”

USTAR, the Quantum Development Group and ADB Bank sponsored the prize money for this year’s contest, with the hope of integrating community resources and local entrepreneurial talent to encourage more small company start-ups and growth.

The Small Business Idea Competition is oftentimes the first opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to field their ideas in front of an experienced outside audience. Year after year, participants laud the valuable feedback they receive, as it inevitably addresses issues surrounding business ideas that are much broader than any one individual’s experience can foresee.

Ricci, who participated in the event for the first time, said, "It was really an amazing experience and excellent practice for the future. Anyone who is going to start a business really has to duplicate this same process - going before an audience you must sell your idea to and win over."

It's only the beginning for many of the participants such as Ricci, who said she would definitely be back next year, and was currently preparing a separate project for another business competition. "People are coming on board with my projects and I'm hoping, like any other entrepreneur, they take off soon."

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