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MidAmerica Industrial Park and i2E announce award winners for high school entrepreneurship program

12/15/2023

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“Creative Spark Industries” student team from Pryor High School wins highest honor

Leaders from MidAmerica Industrial Park and i2E announce a team of three Pryor High School seniors are the top winners of the inaugural high school entrepreneurship program called the MidAmerica Cup.

The MidAmerica Cup is a business plan competition organized by MidAmerica in collaboration with i2E (Innovation to Enterprise) and tailored for local school districts engaged with MidAmerica's STEM education programs. The initiative aims to broaden students' understanding of entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration.

“The competition adds to MidAmerica’s education and workforce strategy to create a homegrown talent pipeline and foster connections between local students and the 80 established employers located within the Park,” MidAmerica’s Director of Workforce Development Scott Fry said. “The inaugural MidAmerica Cup competition empowered high school students to form teams, develop a product, conduct market research, formulate financial projections, and present a comprehensive business plan to potential investors.”

Seven teams from three local high schools—Pryor High School, Adair High School, and Inola High School—participated in the MidAmerica Cup competition. Launched in September, the MidAmerica Cup competition required each team to develop a business plan, marketing strategies, executive summaries, business models, budgets and timelines. The teams’ finalized projects culminated in formal presentations to a panel of judges on November 30 and award winners announced on December 11. Each participating school was awarded $1,500 and a total of $7,000 was distributed among the winning teams.

“This initiative aligns perfectly with i2E’s mission to help develop Oklahoma’s next generation of entrepreneurs,” i2E President Rex Smitherman said. “Participating student teams learned about real-world business processes about the efforts required to create and bring a product to market. The MidAmerica Cup encourages these students to become creators and leaders so they can thrive in a complex and rapidly changing world to become problem solvers.”

Pryor High School’s “Creative Spark Industries” team, consisting of seniors Cayden Knight, Johnathan Stevers and Faith Buford, and school advisor David Day, won first place in the Best Overall category for “LocalEyes,” an application and website designed to connect citizens in communities and boost customer engagement among local businesses. The team also cinched first place in the Best Business Plan and Best Pitch Presentation categories.

“The MidAmerica Cup was a great learning experience for our entire team. We are experienced in app development, coding and computer science, but working behind the scenes. We did not have experience with the business and marketing. Competing in the MidAmerica Cup challenged our team to think through everything we do and how to promote it. It took us a little while to get going, but overall, we had a great experience,” said Buford, team co-founder and managing director of its new LocalEyes app. “In a local business landscape facing challenges, LocalEyes aims to leverage technology to connect businesses with their audience and foster a mutual benefit.”

In preparation for the MidAmerica Cup competition, Creative Spark Industries’ student team conducted qualitative market research and engaged with business owners to tailor the LocalEyes app to specific needs. The primary target market are local chambers of commerce to purchase the app and offer as a value-added service to chamber members. Additionally, non-member businesses could privately purchase the app.

“The MidAmerica Cup program serves as a showcase of MidAmerica’s proactive involvement in shaping the workforce of the future,” said Dr. Jenny Peters, Pryor High School STEM Instructor. “It underlines their dedication to our students and their success. This program functions as a testament to the Park's commitment to workforce development and fostering innovation through the next generation of leaders.”

The MidAmerica Cup drew inspiration from the Love's Entrepreneur's Cup, Oklahoma’s statewide collegiate business plan competition led by i2E. Since its launch 20 years ago, the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition has resulted in 2,700 college students from 36 college campuses across Oklahoma and generated more than 820 innovative ideas.

The MidAmerica Cup was created by MidAmerica Industrial Park through a partnership with i2E and additional supporters including EPSCoR, Grand River Dam Authority, BancFirst, Center on Rural Innovation, RSU-TV, Action Group Staffing, HE&M Saw, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and the Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce.

MidAmerica Cup Award Winners

Best Overall

  1. 1st Place: LocalEyes, Pryor High School
  2. 2nd Place: Petrol Plastix, Pryor High School
  3. 3rd Place: USAL, Pryor High School

Best Business Plan

  1. 1st Place: LocalEyes, Pryor High School
  2. 2nd Place: Petrol Plastix, Pryor High School
  3. 3rd Place: Go-2-Shoes, Adair High School

Best Pitch Presentation

  1. 1st Place: LocalEyes, Pryor High School
  2. 2nd Place: Longhorn Lock, Inola High School
  3. 3rd Place: USAL, Pryor High School

90 Second Pitch – Best Overall

James Stanley, Go-2-Shoes

 


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