Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whitworth hosts business plan competition for area schools

Whitworth team wins second place for childcare cooperative proposal

Nine teams of students, from Whitworth University, Gonzaga University and Spokane Community College, captured a total of $42,500 in cash awards for proposals they submitted for the 2010 Inland Empire Business Plan Competition. The competition is a collaboration between Whitworth's School of Global Commerce & Management, Gonzaga's Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, and Eastern Washington University's Center for Entrepreneurial Activities. The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students from those schools and from SCC.

This year, 46 teams submitted plans in three project categories: social-enterprise, community-based, and student-generated. Fifteen teams were chosen to present their plans during the finals, on Tuesday, April 20, in Whitworth's Weyerhaeuser Hall; the presentation was followed by an awards ceremony and reception. The top nine teams included one team from Whitworth, six from Gonzaga, and two from SCC.

Whitworth graduate students Kelsey Morgenthaler, Matt Jeffries, Greg Caster, Nan Schrag and Chelsea Chen took home $3,500 for placing second in the social-enterprise category. The team's business plan, Side-by-Side Childcare Cooperative, would be a childcare center addressing Spokane's West Central community's unmet need for affordable childcare. Its unique cooperative design would allow parents and other community "team members" to vote on organizational decisions. Childcare services would be high-quality and low-cost, since parents and other volunteers would work as mentors to childcare specialists.

Following are all of the winning teams for each category:
  • Community-based category: Good Greetings, Gonzaga (1st place); Level 1 Bar, SCC (2nd); New Timeless Woodworks, SCC (3rd)

  • Social-enterprise category: Hospitality House, Gonzaga (1st); Side-by-Side Childcare Cooperative, Whitworth (2nd); Zambia Gold, Gonzaga (3rd)

  • Student-generated category: Rent-a-Bike, Gonzaga (1st); Anderson Holdings, Gonzaga (2nd); Amebo, Gonzaga (3rd)

The plans submitted to the competition were judged by an independent panel of reviewers based on 10 criteria, including social return on investment, feasibility, scalability, funding, and quality of the operating and financial plans.

Faculty members from the Whitworth School of Global Commerce & Management assisted the Whitworth teams by providing academic and practical insight in areas including marketing, finance, e-commerce, legal issues and patents.

Major funding for the competition was provided by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, Telect, Itron, and Avista Corp.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Dan Churchwell, lecturer, department of economics & business, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3885 or dchurchwell@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.