“Build Bartlesville” Asks Local Entrepreneurs to Reach for the Stars

From the start of the 1889 Land Run, Oklahoma was built on the dreams of entrepreneurs who began with an idea and then built it into greatness.

Build Bartlesville is back for its third year of competition. Starting Jan. 6, 2014, entrepreneurs and current business owners are encouraged to submit their innovative business ideas online for an opportunity to receive a business grant. 

The competition has a new component this year that will encourage local entrepreneurs to truly reach for the stars. Build Bartlesville is now part of a statewide business grant competition, Dream Big Oklahoma, rewarding new and existing creative business models. Dream Big Oklahoma seeks to follow the Build Bartlesville tradition by encouraging entrepreneurs and small businesses to share their dreams for launching or growing a business.

The winner from the Build Bartlesville competition will advance to a statewide pitch-off for an opportunity to win up to $10,000 more in business grant funds.

To participate, entrepreneurs simply upload their “dreams” to the new Build Bartlesville online platform. Contestants then encourage friends, family and customers to vote for them online. Dreams will be reviewed, votes will be tallied and winners will advance to a live “pitch-off” for a chance to win up to $10,000 in business grant funds. Winners will then advance to a statewide “pitch-off” event slated for fall 2014.

Build Bartlesville is being administered by the Innovation Center at Rogers State University, which also is helping organize the statewide competition. Last year’s Bartlesville competition awarded $13,000 to two Bartlesville businesses. First-place winners were Tim and Sara Kilpatrick, founders of Hero Factor Games™. Runner-up winners were Wesley Lantrip, Michael Young and Tony Phillips who founded Heartland Roasters and received a $4,500 grant to expand its business.

“Throughout the United States, economic development professionals are turning to entrepreneurship development as a means to diversify the economy, create jobs and build local wealth,” said Jeri Koehler, director of the Innovation Center at RSU. 

The competition will be open for proposals from Jan. 6-31. Online voting will be Feb. 3-14. The awards ceremony will be Friday, March 14.

Sponsors for the Bartlesville region include Bartlesville Development Corporation, Truity Credit Union, Armstrong Bank and RCB Bank.

Dream Big Oklahoma is based on a nationally recognized, award-winning contest in Iowa, known as “Dream Big Grow Here.” The most recent Iowa contest attracted 225 contestants taking part in one of 10 regional contests. The Iowa events resulted in more than 150,000 online votes and almost one million online views via the custom contest platform.

The Innovation Center at RSU is charged with fostering economic development in northeast Oklahoma by assisting entrepreneurs and expanding businesses to turn passion into progress through solution-based programs and one-on-one technical assistance. Through a strategic partnership with the University of Northern Iowa, the Innovation Center is introducing the statewide contest in Oklahoma to connect entrepreneurs with economic development organizations and entrepreneur support organizations, where they can be served with access to capital, technical assistance and networks to prosper their business.

To learn more about the Build Bartlesville or the statewide Dream Big Oklahoma, contact Jeri Koehler at 918-343-7533.