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Rogers State University

Build Bartlesville Contest to Provide Seed Grants to Winners
Early stage entrepreneurs, as well as current business owners in the Bartlesville area are encouraged to submit their innovative business ideas to the Build Bartlesville competition. Build Bartlesville is a program in its second year of existence that was developed by the Innovation Center at Rogers State University. Participants in the competition will compete for their share of up to $15,000 in grant funds that they can use to start or enhance their business.

Logo: Build BartlesvilleComplete information about the competition may be viewed at www.BuildBartlesville.info. Entrepreneurs who plan to compete should go to the website and complete the intent-to-compete forms between Nov. 12, 2012, and Jan. 25, 2013. Proposals are due on Feb. 11, 2013. Finalists of the competition will receive one-on-one coaching from Innovation Center staff members to help solidify their business idea for the final stage of the competition, oral presentations with selected judges.

"Sometimes entrepreneurs need a little capital to turn an innovative idea into a commercial success. We are offering an incentive to see if we can encourage more people to take their ideas to the next level," said David Wood, who serves as president and CEO of Bartlesville Development Corporation.

The competition is open to qualifying startups or businesses looking to expand in the Bartlesville area or willing to locate a business there, Wood said. The grants are intended to create jobs in the Bartlesville community and may be used for implementing ideas resulting in a new business, upgrading a product line or service, or branching into new markets. Successful proposals will have the potential to increase wealth for the Bartlesville area. To be eligible, the innovative product or service will generate more than one half of its revenues from outside Washington County.

Applicants with the best plans to start or expand a business will receive a portion of $15,000 to go toward eligible costs, which include equipment, the purchase or improvement of property, marketing and more.

"We want to encourage the pioneering spirit Bartlesville was founded on," said Jeri Koehler, director of the Innovation Center at RSU. "This competition is a way to provide the seed funds to do just that. Through the RSU Innovation Center and our partners we provide the assistance entrepreneurs might need."

The Build Bartlesville innovative ideas competition is a collaboration between Rogers State University and the Bartlesville Development Corporation. Area sponsors include the 66 Federal Credit Union, Armstrong Bank, RCB Bank, the Strategy Center at Tri County Technology Center, Woolaroc, the Price Tower and the Bartlesville History Museum. The official media sponsors for the event are Bartlesville Radio and the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise newspaper.

More information regarding the competition and eligibility requirements are available at www.BuildBartlesville.info.


RSU Center Provides Business Connections To Spark Economic Growth
In today’s business world, the term “networking” brings to mind the complex systems that keep connected computer systems up and running. However, it was the old-fashioned kind of networking – the face-to-face communication variety – that was responsible for turning a product idea into reality and, in the process, creating economic growth for Oklahoma.

Employees at a company producing SafeLoad ramps.When Oklahoma City businessman John Gossett purchased the rights to produce and market SafeLoad ramps – a pickup truck ramp designed to assist in loading ATVs, golf carts and other equipment – he was insistent that his product would be made in Oklahoma. The desire to manufacture their ramps in Oklahoma was a practical one: not only would having a local manufacturer provide jobs for the state’s economy, but it would also shave several months from the time needed to bring the project to market.

The problem? Gossett couldn’t find an Oklahoma shop that could take on the project. He began working with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s international division to find a manufacturer in Mexico to produce the ramp when the “old-fashioned” networking began to intervene here in Oklahoma.

Dr. Ray Brown, vice president for the Center for Economic and Community Development at Rogers State University, had heard about SafeLoad’s need for a local manufacturer via his connections with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Brown and Bill Shortridge, an Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence manufacturing extension agent who is sponsored in Rogers County by RSU, immediately thought of a Catoosa company that might be able to handle SafeLoad’s needs.

The two men then met with Roger Cordray, operations manager at Control Components Limited (CCL), who said his company would take on the project. CCL provides job shop subcontracting work for companies needing machining, stamping and fabrication. Brown and Shortridge then arranged for a meeting between SafeLoad and CCL to initiate discussions between the two companies.

After that meeting, CCL engineers worked extensively with Gossett’s company for about a year refining the ramp’s design so that it would be less expensive to manufacture and ship, while still retaining the structural integrity that allows the 50-pound ramp to hold more than 1,500 pounds.

Constructed of lightweight aluminum, the SafeLoad ramp is installed in place of an existing tailgate on a Chevrolet, Ford or Dodge full-sized pickup without modifications to the truck. When fully extended, the ramp is about 84 inches long and creates a ramp that allows convenient loading of equipment into the truck bed. The ramp can then be converted into a lockable, flow-through tailgate.

The feedback from the ATV industry regarding SafeLoad ramp has been overwhelmingly positive. A product review from ATV Illustrated described the ramp system as “a poster boy for what American-manufactured products should be” and called the product the “safest and most convenient ATV loading ramps we’ve ever used.”

Gossett said CCL’s contributions improved the product’s design, lowered production costs and slashed shipping costs.

“We couldn’t be at the point where we are today without the hard work that Roger and CCL put into this product,” Gossett said.

To meet SafeLoad’s demands, CCL added three employees dedicated to production, order processing and shipping of their product line. The company can produce about 20 ramps a day per shift, and SafeLoad has ordered more than $700,000 of the ramps during the next two years. Cordray said he expects SafeLoad to be his fifth largest customer by the end of 2005.

Brown said he was thrilled to be able to assist in the link between CCL and SafeLoad because a central purpose of RSU’s Center for Economic and Community Development is to facilitate connections within the business community.

“This was a natural extension of our mission at the Center,” Brown said. “While we are geared to provide resources to area entrepreneurs and businesses directly, we can also provide indirect benefits through our network of contacts.”

Business and community networking has been important to driving business growth for CCL, Cordray said.

“Without a doubt, businesses wanting to expand should take full advantage of the connections through available through programs such as the Center for Economic and Community Development,” he said.

For more information on the SafeLoad ramp, visit their Web site at www.safeloadramps.com or call toll-free 877-600-7267. For more information about CCL, call (918) 317-4116. For more information about the RSU Center for Economic and Community Development, call (918) 343-7533.