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$6,000 in prize money in the 2014 Ropp Triplett Business Plan Competition

December 13, 2013 - 3:37pm    Fred Steiner

Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs has announced prize money and seminar dates its 2014 Ropp Triplett Business Plan Competition.

First place prize is $5,000 in business start-up costs and a one-year BCE client program membership. Second place is $1,000 in start-up costs and a one-year BCE client program membership. Third place is a one-year BCE client program membership.

This is BCE’s fifth business plan competition and it recognizes the late Ropp Triplett, long-time Bluffton industrial leader and entrepreneur.

“The contest is open to start-up businesses and emerging businesses that are less than three years old. The competition teaches entrepreneurs to write a business plan that will help them improve their existing business or to successfully start a new one,” said Brendon Matthews, BCE board president.

The competition will be launched at the Jan. 17 Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Kathy Keller, director, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Lima, instructs all seminars. Each takes place at Bluffton University from 6 to 8 p.m. on the following evenings:

Jan.16: “Launch Your Business Right (free)

Jan. 23: “So You Want to be an Entrepreneur” (fees and applications are due)

Jan. 30: “Planning to Start a Business” 

Feb. 6: “Developing Your Business Idea”

Feb. 13: “Testing Your Business Idea and Getting it to Market”  

Feb. 20: “Accounting for Your Business” 

Feb. 27: “Financing Your Business”

March 13: “Final Pitch Dress Rehearsal (business plan due)

March 15: Final pitches

To enter the competition, contestants must complete an entry form and submit a $150 application fee. The fee for college student to enter is $75. The deadline to enter the contest is Thursday, Jan. 23.


July 29, 2013 - 10:45am    admin


WLIO TV, Lima, created this feature on Small House Bluffton, on July 28, 2013.

They say in the real estate business what counts is location, location location.

Sam Shriver has more on an effort in Bluffton to cut back on energy usage by building close to the assets of the community.

This home, being built on north Lawn Ave. in Bluffton is close to just about everything in the community.

That closeness, means people could walk to the grocery, post office, even school, and that means not using energy to drive there.

Off the charts: LEED puts high value on Bluffton

By Andy Chappell-Dick

Note: The author of this article was one of the 2012 BCE business plan competition winners.

Bluffton is a great place to live, and I have proof.  According to the criteria of one national industry group, the US Green Building Council (USGBC), this community far exceeds the level required to achieve “exemplary” status.

To kick off our new contracting business, Small House Bluffton, Wendy and I are building a house here in town, and because of our interest in ecological design and efficiency we’ve registered the project with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, administered by USGBC.) This is a non-government certification system that inspects and ranks building projects on dozens of factors having to do with environmental impact, occupant health, materials used, and even the neighborhood in which it’s built.  Our goal is to achieve LEED certification at the Platinum level, the highest possible.

Points are awarded for meeting each of the criteria.  Of all the points we get for building an ecological house, the easiest will come in a category called Community Resources.  Here is where Bluffton shines.

Basically, points in this category are awarded based on how close a home is to places that we go all the time:  stores, schools, churches, parks, community centers, hair salons, libraries.  These are the resources of a healthy community.  LEED reasons that it is important for homes to be built in development patterns that allow for walking, biking, or public transit, reducing dependence on cars and their environmental impact.  The category places a high value on building communities more densely, encouraging people to live close to each other--and their businesses and schools and churches--instead of in expansive and distant suburbs.

On a map of town, LEED draws a circle around the home with a radius of half a mile, representing a reasonable walking distance, and counts the number of “resources” in the circle.  If there are at least seven, a project gets one point for “basic”.  If there are 11 resources, that’s called “extensive” and it’s worth two points.  “Outstanding” is 14 resources, for three points. 

Maybe “outstanding” doesn’t seem like a hard threshold to reach.  Many homes in Ohio small towns easily could reach that.  But it might be tough in most parts of Lima, or any city for that matter.  Or consider a house just outside the edge of a town—a half-mile circle may exclude a number of important things, and you find yourself driving more and walking less.

In the central part of Bluffton, where our new house is being built, the half-mile circle contains many, many community resources.  I quickly counted 14, so we’re “outstanding.”  But LEED provides an additional point for “exemplary performance”, which means the project has doubled the requirements.  I kept going and easily reached 28.  I stopped counting, still not done, at 56, which represents a quadrupling of what LEED considers “outstanding” community resources.

In their wildest dreams, the engineers and academics that teased out LEED’s point system did not anticipate a town as richly resourceful as Bluffton. We truly are off the scale.  A home’s impact on the environment isn’t just within its walls, but is also bound up in its neighborhood.  LEED encourages developers to strive for what Bluffton already has in spades.  Three cheers for our downtown and our community resources!  (And four points for our new house!)

Centerpoint Stewardship small business workshop

Want to attend this free workshop? Simply RSVP to

The Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce and Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs present a free business workshop, open to the public, at 8:45 a.m., Friday, June 14, in the third floor of the Bluffton town hall.

Bob Ostrander, Certified Financial Planner, CEO and founder of Centerpoint Stewardship, Columbus, is the workshop speaker. He presents workshops across the U.S. on a variety of subjects of interest to business owners.

Winners announced on Ropp Triplett Business Plan Competition

Bluffton resident Rebekah Gambrell’s idea of a woman-owned aviation maintenance business is the winner of Bluffton Center for Entrepreneur’s Ropp Triplett Business Plan Competition, according to Denise Durenberger, BCE director.

Gambrel, who has a background in avionics, will receive $5,000 towards business start-up costs and a one-year BCE client program membership. She intends to launch Gildeslope Aviation, which will service the northwest Ohio avionics market.

John Hawkins, owner of PCDR Coatings, Findlay, won second place. He receives $1,000 prize money towards start-up costs and a one-year BCE client program membership. Hawkins intends to provide cleaning and powder-coating application services to metal parts and assemblies of local manufacturing companies.

Jane Raines and Kathleen Virden, Lima, owners of Delicate Sweet Treats, a home-based bakery, won third place. They will receive a one-year BCE client program membership. The mother-daughter business will offer cakes, cookies, candies and gift options to birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, bridal showers and work events.

Competitors in the competition participated in eight workshops led by Kathy Keller, director, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Lima. The workshops were held at Bluffton University this spring.

Bluffton University, DTR Industries, Mustard Seed Cafe, Reichenbach and Steiner CPA's and WLIO TV, Lima, are major sponsors of the competition.

Additional support for the competition is provided by Allen Economic Development Group, Bluffton Icon, Citizens National Bank, First National Bank, Samuel W. Diller and Mitchell Kingsley, attorneys at law, and Sielschott, Walsh, Keifer and Regula CPA’s.

This is BCE’s third annual business plan competition. This year the name was changed to recognize the late Ropp Triplett, long-time Bluffton industrial leader and entrepreneur.

 on May 31, 2013 - 12:00pm    admin

Big Idea Contest winners announced

“The Hot Seat,” “Nike Cleanse,” and “Delicate and Sweet Bakery,” are the three winners of the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneur’s Big Idea Contest, according to Denise Durenberger, BCE director and assistant professor of business at Bluffton University.

The winners represent entries in the Bluffton University Division of the contest.

  • First place, Robert Beaver, with “The Hot Seat,” $250 prize

  • Second place, Maggie Armstrong, with “Nike Cleanse, “$100 prize

  • Third place, Jane Virdin, with “Delicate and Sweet Bakery, $25 prize plus $25 Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce gift certificate


“Entries were judged on uniqueness, potential for commercialization and long-term viability in the marketplace,” said Durenberger.

News 2012-2013 
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