Student Business Plan Contest To Award $2,000 In Cash; Registration Now Open

The global economy and rapid technology innovations create the need for a nimble workforce that can not only identify new opportunities, but also create them. This recognition of the importance of entrepreneurship motivated two local organizations to sponsor a student business plan competition three years ago.

The third annual Eastern Shore Student Business Plan competition, sponsored by the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) and Maryland Capital Enterprises (MCE), is currently accepting registrations for this year’s contest. The submission deadline is January 27, 2014.

The contest is open to juniors or seniors at any public or private high school in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties as well as full- or part-time community college students (under 25 years of age) at Chesapeake College or Wor-Wic Community College. Awarding $2,000 in cash, the competition is intended to motivate students to assess their own skill sets and areas of personal interest or knowledge in which they could successfully make a living and possibly create jobs for themselves and others on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Submissions will consist of a business plan executive summary only. Each unique executive summary must describe an innovative and scalable plan for a successful business idea or concept, which is fundable. Any idea of a commercial endeavor is valid. All applications must be the original work of those making the submission. Submissions of completed business plans will not accepted. For complete contest rules, visit www.ventureahead.org. For more information, email info@shorebizplan.com.

“Cultivating future entrepreneurs is only one of many outcomes of a business plan contest,” says Mike Thielke, ESEC executive director. “Regardless of the age of the participant students also learn planning, communication, writing, and finance skills. All of which can be used in a variety of setting, not just in creating a startup business,” he adds.

Educators interested in incorporating the contest into their class instruction will be offered resources such as guest speakers and handouts. Educators should contact Mike Thielke at (410) 770-9330 or mike@ventureahead.org.

Semi-final judging will occur by district: Chesapeake – Upper and Mid-Shore Counties (Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot) and Wor-Wic – Lower Shore Counties (Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester). All winners from each district advance to an Eastern Shore final judging.

Semi-Final cash prizes will be awarded to: First Place – $400; Second Place – $250; and Third Place – $100. Final cash prizes will be awarded to: First Place – $800; Second Place – $300; and Third Place – $150.

Founded in 2006, the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center works to develop and enhance an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. ESEC provides training; services and programs to help business owners and entrepreneurs succeed by creating greater access to capital, and offering programs that develop entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. Included are NewVenture, a comprehensive 10-week entrepreneur-training program, annual business plan and student plan competitions, and an annual entrepreneur conference.

In 2012, ESEC launched “hotDesks,” providing co-working spaces for independent professionals. The first location opened in Salisbury with a second location to be announced on the Eastern Shore. For more information on the business plan competition or ESEC, call (410) 770-9330 or visit ventureahead.org.

Based in Salisbury, MCE is a private, non-profit microenterprise development organization that has been serving Maryland’s Eastern Shore since 1998. It provides business consulting, training, and small business loans, and is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution. MCE operates as a micro-lending intermediary for the SBA, USDA, and the State of Maryland. Last year, MCE began providing small business loans in the Baltimore – Annapolis area, and opened a Baltimore office. To learn more call (410) 546-1900 or visit www.marylandcapital.org.