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Penn College Students Win Lion’s Share of ‘Business Plan Challenge’

Grand-prize winner Corey M. Weems with Eric K. Albert, associate professor of machine tool technology and automated manufacturing.Penn College students placed first and third in the second annual Quad College & University Business Plan Challenge, exiting the Community Theatre League with a total of $15,000 in prize money Tuesday afternoon.

Matthew L. Gross is joined in celebration by Tim E. Weston, assistant professor of plastics technology (left), and Kirk M. Cantor, professor of plastics technology.Corey M. Weems, a manufacturing engineering technology major from Williamsport, was awarded the $10,000 grand prize, and Matthew L. Gross, of Dover, a student in the college’s plastics and polymer engineering technology major, won the $5,000 third prize. Second-place honors (and $7,500) went to Zachary Dotson, of Hanover, a physics major at Lycoming College.

They were among eight student teams from Mansfield University, Lock Haven University, Lycoming and Penn College to vie for the cash awards, which are provided by Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum and the Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone.

Jill Edwards, executive director of Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, congratulates the winners.Thirty-two student teams submitted concept papers for their own business ideas in December, and 16 teams were selected to submit 10-page written business plans. Eight finalist teams were chosen to make 10-minute oral presentations with PowerPoint slides to a panel of judges from the business community, with winners selected on the viability of their respective business opportunities.

“Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum and its sister organization, Ben Franklin Technology PArtners, support this second annual 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 Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum.

“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 among students, universities and our community,” explained Rikki Riegner, program manager for the Williamsport/Lycoming KIZ.

On the way to final judging, the student teams participated in Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 learning workshops, hearing from bankers, investors, economic-development service providers and young successful entrepreneurs in preparing for Tuesday’s finals.

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