Annual business competition helps generate big ideas by Morrisville students

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MORRISVILLE, NY—Fascinated by Morrisville State College’s unique hands-on approach to education, Jesse Paul Chandler feels he has an idea to truly put the college over the top. 

“We have incredible things going on around campus, but I think the one thing that’s missing is fungi,” Chandler said in his opening remarks before a panel of judges during the 2018 Cotton Business Idea Competition. 

Chandler was one of 13 finalists (seven individual, three teams) who presented during the competition, which drew 28 idea submissions overall. Supported by Douglas and Susan Cotton, entrepreneurs and generous college donors, to further Morrisville students’ entrepreneurial endeavors, the competition is sponsored through the college’s Department of Business and Entrepreneurship. 

Being “totally blown away by the world of fungi” after working at the Fruit of the Fungi mushroom farm for the past four years, Chandler proposed an on-campus climate-controlled mushroom cultivation facility. He explained how it would provide year-round production of fresh mushrooms and make the crop readily available not just for consumption at dining halls and local eateries, but also for medicinal use and as fabric alternatives. 

“It can help bring different departments on campus together,” Chandler said. 

That includes using waste from certain departments as compost, helping to “use what would normally be thrown out to create life,” he said. 

Chandler, a horticulture: landscape development A.A.S. major from Morrisville, convinced the panel of Morrisville-area entrepreneurs, capturing the first-place $800 prize. 

“For those of you who have brought us these creative ideas, thank you,” Morrisville State College President David Rogers said to the finalists. “Your ideas are incredibly fresh. It’s that creativity that will help move the New York and national economies forward.” 

Placing second in the competition and winning $500 were horticulture business students Jim O’Connell, of Skaneateles, and Colton Welch, of Honeoye Lake, whose idea is to build an automated reservoir system for hydroponics to help reduce greenhouse labor needs. Logan Scott, of Hannibal, took the third-place $300 prize with his idea for a local truck wash service for commercial-sized vehicles. 

Other ideas presented by students included: a mobile app that helps gardeners choose the best plant for their desired locations based on site conditions; lotion-infused mechanic’s gloves to prevent rashes; a retractable dog leash to assist with training; a corn maize and creamery to promote agriculture tourism; a beef cattle farm for the sale of meat and show cattle; and the repurposing of a local restaurant to cater to college students. 

Carrie Shuman, of Bloomsburg, Pa., presented her idea for a small dairy farm featuring a creamery offering ice cream, cheese, soap and yogurt. Shuman, who placed second during last year’s competition, used her previous experience as well as her continued education at Morrisville to display how her idea has already grown. 

“The dairy field is always changing and advancing,” said Shuman, a dairy management bachelor’s degree student. “I was able to add more resources from what I learned last year.” 

Students participating were: 

  • Brent McHale, a horticultural business management B. Tech. student from Gowanda, and Richard Donnelly, a business administration B.B.A. student from Breezy Point, Queens;
  • Jesse Paul Chandler, a horticulture: landscape development A.A.S. student from Morrisville;
  • Adam Jay, a wood products technology A.A.S. student from Hilton, and Kaylee Wood, an agricultural business A.A.S. student from Whitney Point;
  • Victoria Peila, an agricultural business A.A.S. student from Oxford;
  • Logan Scott, an agricultural business development B.B.A. student from Hannibal;
  • Ted Siedsma, an entrepreneurship and small business management student from Clinton;
  • Colton Welch, a horticulture business management B. Tech. student from Honeoye Lake, and Jim O’Connell, a horticulture business management B. Tech. student from Skaneateles;
  • Carrie Shuman, a dairy management B. Tech. student from Bloomsburg, Pa.;
  • Brittney Noto, an agricultural business development B.B.A. student from Delevan; and
  • Antonina Albertina, an individual studies student from Sherburne. 

Morrisville State College’s curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs. 

The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings.