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Penn College Student Among Winners in ‘Business Plan Challenge’

William J. Davis accepts a mockup of his %245,000 winnings from James K. Shillenn, executive director and CEO of the Industrial Modernization Center .A plastics and polymer engineering technology student at Pennsylvania College of Technology was among the winners in the first Quad College & University Business Plan Challenge that culminated April 18 at the Community Theatre League in downtown Williamsport.

William J. Davis, of Morris, whose Bill Davis Corp. presented a design for magnetic mold-clamping technology, was awarded $5,000 as the third-place winner in the competition. Lycoming College students captured the other two top spots: Rebecca Bonnell won the $10,000 first-place award for Caffe Mazza, a coffee and ice cream shop; and Erica and Bryan Makos received $7,500 for Valor Publishing, a distributor of military art.

Eight student teams from Penn College, Lycoming College, Mansfield University and Lock Haven University vied for the total of $22,500 in prize money, which was provided by the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum and the Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone.

Fourteen student teams submitted concept papers for their business ideas in December 2005, from which 11 teams were selected to submit 10-page written business plans. The eight finalists were chosen and each made a 10-minute oral presentation with PowerPoint slides to a panel of judges from the business community.

The winning teams, applauded by judges for the obvious passion and thorough knowledge they brought to their presentations, submitted plans that best demonstrated a viable business opportunity.

“In this competition, I learned lots about all the work it takes to start a business,” Davis said. “The best advice I’ve taken with me is the proper planning required to start a successful business.”

Eric K. Albert, associate professor of machine tool technology and automated manufacturing, and William J. Davis.He was accompanied to his presentation by Eric K. Albert, an associate professor of machine tool technology and automated manufacturing in Penn College’s School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies.

“Bill and I have been working on this since last fall, when he began with just a basic idea of what he wanted to design. He remained committed to his project and has come a long way since then, right up to the day of the competition,” he said. “Just being a finalist in the event makes him a winner, and receiving the third-place award is icing on the cake.

“He told me that this has been his best learning experience in college,” Albert added. “As a professor, I only wish more students would get fired up for competitions like this!”

“Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum and its sister organization, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, support this first . . . business-plan contest, because it encourages students to consider entrepreneurship as a career path. It also gets some great ideas out of the classroom and into practice,” remarked Jill Edwards, executive director of the Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum.

In preparation for the challenge, the student teams participated in Fall 2005 and Spring 2006 learning workshops and heard from bankers, investors, economic-development service providers and successful entrepreneurs on topics related to starting a new business.

“This business plan contest coincides with the mission of the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ of promoting the commercial application of various technologies through entrepreneurship and business startups. The manufacturing and technology awards provided by the contest have advanced partnerships among students, universities and our community,” explained Rikki Riegner, program manager for the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ.

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