'Next Great Idea' competition underway again in Oswego County

Jan 21, 2014

Entrepreneurs in Oswego County could have their dreams of owning a business come true by competing in the third "Next Great Idea" business plan competition.

Austion Wheelock, economic developer for Operation Oswego County, says the competition helps establish a culture of entrepreneurism and brings jobs and business to the area.

"We're not really reinventing the wheel here," Wheelock said. "We're looking at what other places have done and have done successfully, and sort of taking those and put them together into something that we feel would be the best fit for Oswego County."

Wheelock also says the competition is a great way to introduce a wide variety of novel business ideas to the community.

"A lot of these kinds of competitions are geared towards high-tech, high growth companies," Wheelock said. "And as much as we would love to see a bunch of high-tech, high growth companies competing in it, the past winners have shown that anyone who may have a really good business plan and a really good idea has the potential to win."

Previous winners of the competition's $25,000 prize include Ocean Blue Technology, LLC in 2008, which sells scuba and diving equipment, and Lakeside Artisans in 2010, which sells pieces made by local artists. Wheelock says although only one business can win the competition, anyone with a good plan could earn exposure to the judging panel's venture capitalists, banks and other entrepreneurs. This year's competition kicks off on January 22, and business plans will be accepted through April 11. The winner will be announced in mid-November.

The "Next Great Idea" is funded by local banks, the Shineman Foundation, Operation Oswego County, and the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego.