Business plan competition spurs Nevada’s best, brightest college students

Dave_225 As Nevadans, we’re all very much aware of the economic challenges facing our state. While we certainly have real and prominent issues to contend with, I’d like to share with you a true bright spot on the horizon that deserves our collective support.

The Fifth Annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition now is under way. The student teams submit their business plans Monday, finalists make their oral presentations on April 22 and we announce the winners at the Awards dinner April 23 at the Peppermill. Facilitated by Nevada’s Center for imageEntrepreneurship and Technology (NCET), this event encourages Nevada’s best and brightest college students to challenge themselves to develop innovative new business concepts that have the potential to change the face of our state’s economy.

Since its inception, the Governor’s Cup has continued to grow and thrive. To date, more than 600 students have entered 160 business plans and received more than $350,000 in cash prizes which they’ve used to further their education or start their businesses. Students from nearly every college and university in the state have participated in the competition, with several going on to place in the new Tri-State Reynolds Cup Competition. I’m proud to report that 10 participants have taken their concepts and launched successful business ventures right here in Nevada.

The Governor’s Cup is open to all undergraduate and graduate students of every Nevada college and university. During the competition, students first practice the techniques of formulating a business plan as an academic exercise. Judges, who represent the "real world" of business start-ups, then provide the students with relevant and timely feedback. We expect more than 50 teams from a wide range of academic disciplines to participate this year. We’ll also be presenting the "Lt. Governor’s Award" to the best energy-related business plans, and the "NCED Commissioners’ Award" to the business plan best addressing rural Nevada’s economic development needs. Additionally, we’ll present the "NCET Faculty Award" to outstanding faculty advisors. The winners of Nevada’s Governor’s Cup will once again compete with the winners of the Arkansas and Oklahoma’s Governor’s Cups in the Tri-State Donald W. Reynolds Cup Competition held in Las Vegas in May.

When so many finding themselves out of traditional jobs, we fully anticipate a surge in startups from local entrepreneurs in the coming year. Nevada takes great pride in its heritage of entrepreneurial spirit and an ongoing determination to build something from the ground up. Small businesses continue to be the backbone of our state economy, with 95 percent of our businesses employing fewer than 20 employees. I firmly believe that these small businesses, entrepreneurs and the next generational of business leaders will be the ones who help guide our state back to the path of prosperity and self-sufficiency on which the Silver State was founded.

I strongly urge you to support the 2009 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup. Participate, sponsor, donate, or attend the awards dinner"» be part of the long-term strategy to encourage innovation in the Silver State. Learn more by visiting

Dave Archer is the chief executive officer for Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.