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Got a Business Idea? Enter Competition to Earn $50,000 in Seed Capital. Deadline: April 30

Oswego County looks to local businesses for the ‘Next Great Idea’

“The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition” (NGI) is calling for entries for the 2021 competition, which will give away $90,000 in prizes. The competition is accepting business concept proposals now through April 30.

“We’re excited this year to offer $50,000 in seed capital to the overall winner and the second and third place winners will receive a combination of seed capital and in-kind business services worth $25,000 and $15,000 respectively,” said NGI Chairperson Austin Wheelock, deputy director for Operation Oswego County (OOC).

“We feel growing the competition in this way will help attract even bigger and better ideas to the competition and show the region and beyond that we are serious about encouraging entrepreneurship in Oswego County,” said Wheelock.

NGI Oswego County Business Plan Competition began in 2008 when economic development officials joined business and community leaders to develop a program to encourage entrepreneurship and help business startups gain access to capital.

“We knew we had a lot of great business ideas in the community but the recurring obstacle we kept finding when trying to assist businesses was a lack of equity for companies to get off the ground or to go to a bank and obtain traditional financing,” Wheelock said. “We were losing companies and talented entrepreneurs to locations that had these types of programs and cultures of entrepreneurship in place.”

Today, entrepreneurship thrives as evidenced by the competition’s recent winners, which include Wired Telcom, an IT and communications installer and service provider specializing in franchise businesses.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for the $50,000 Next Great Idea award and will use it to grow our team with local job opportunities and training for installers and IT support professionals,” said WIRED Telecom’s Ed Alberts in 2018.

Other winners include: ArcoArt in 2014, Lakeside Artisans Cooperative in 2010 and Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, in 2008.

For entrants, the competition consists of three phases, starting with the Business Concept Proposal due April 30. During the second phase, judges will select semi-finalists to develop full business plans due in September. The competition culminates with entrepreneurs making their “pitch” to a panel of judges consisting of local bankers, entrepreneurs, business service professionals and investors in November.

Businesses that submit ideas not selected will get feedback on how to improve their proposals along with referrals to partner organizations that can help.

Supporters of this year’s competition include Advance Media New York, the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Operation Oswego County, Inc., C&S Companies, Chirello Advertising, Greater Oswego Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Pathfinder Bank, SUNY Oswego, and CiTi BOCES.

For more information, visit or contact NGI Chair Austin Wheelock at 315-343-1545 or at