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Judges Reviewing Business Concept Proposals for 2021 Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition

May 20, 2021

The first phase deadline has passed and this year’s panel of judges are now reviewing 24 business concept proposals submitted to the 2021 Next Great Idea (NGI) Oswego County Business Plan Competition, according to Austin Wheelock, Deputy Director for Operation Oswego County and Chair of NGI.

“The Next Great Idea is the result of business and community leaders joining together to launch a competition that encourages entrepreneurs to commit to new business development in Oswego County and offer cash and other prizes totaling $90,000 to help make several entrepreneurs dreams come true,” Wheelock said.

Judges for this year’s competition are Ed Alberts, owner of Riverwalk Oswego and a former winner of NGI; Mike Backus of Oswego Health; Rich Burritt of Burritt Motors; Allen Chase of Chase Enterprises; Nate Emmons, County Legislator; Karen Goetz of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation; Keiko Kimura of Cayuga Community College’s Fulton Campus; Kevin LaMontagne of Operation Oswego County; Liz Lonergan of the Watertown Small Business Development Center; and Tim McKernan of EJ USA. Judges were selected based on their local business knowledge and expertise in the fields of operations, management, financing, and entrepreneurship.

The deadline to submit business concept proposals for the first phase of the 2021 NGI Competition was April 30, 2021. The entire competition consists of three phases. The next phase will require semi-finalists, selected from phase one, to develop full business plans. In the third phase, finalists will make their “pitch” in person to the panel of judges. This year, the judges will be tasked with selecting three winners. The overall winner will receive $50,000 towards implementing their business plan. The second and third place winners will receive prizes valuing $25,000 and $15,000, in cash and in-kind services, respectively. All participants will receive written feedback from the panel of judges on how to improve their business proposal through each phase of the competition.

“We’ve designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition,” Austin Wheelock, Deputy Director of Operation Oswego County and NGI Chairperson, said. “If we have several finalist prize winners come out of this, plus many other bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County.”

In addition, the prizes can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $500,000 through our partnerships with local banks, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“The NGI partnership believes that Oswego County offers a wealth of resources and opportunities for businesses to start and flourish here. We are all extremely excited to see the great ideas the competition participants generate turn into viable business opportunities,” Wheelock said.

The competition web site, www.oswegocounty.org/NGI/index.htm, includes an overview of the event, a competition timeline, application guidelines, sponsors, and contact information.