(l) John Mierzwa, director of the CNM STEMulus Center and Sul Kassicieh, distinguished professor and director of the UNM Business Plan Competition at announcement.

Students from Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) have been invited to participate in the University of New Mexico's Business Plan Competition. New collaborations between UNM and CNM allow any students in the entrepreneurial programs at either school to enter the competition.

The UNM Business Plan Competition was started 11 years ago by Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Finance, International, Technology and Entrepreneurship Sul Kassicieh. He says joining with CNM is a win-win for New Mexico and the students at both schools. 

“Our collaboration with CNM and its entrepreneurial programs provides the opportunity to develop more college students into entrepreneurs with the education, resources, and mindset to grow their startup ventures and bolster economic development in New Mexico,” said Kassicieh. 

The UNM Business Plan Competition offers $87,000 in prize money this year. Last year 20 teams competed in both Technology Ventures and Entrepreneurial Ventures tracks for $75,000 in start-up funding.  

“This is such a great opportunity for our students, our faculty and staff and most of all for our community,” Donna Diller, dean of CNM’s School of Business and Information Technology said.

“When you look at the level of mentorship, this is giving students and support they need and every opportunity to succeed,” said John Mierzwa, CNM’s STEMulus Center director.

This collaboration brings together UNM and CNM students (including participants of the Deep Dive Coding competition, the IGNITE Accelerator, and Entrepreneurial Mindset attendees) to work toward creating new startups in New Mexico with the potential and ability to achieve high growth. It will also provide students participating with valuable skills to be entrepreneurial-minded in an organization at which they are employed before launching their startup venture.

UNM Anderson School student and winner of the 2015 Business Plan Competition Elan Silverblatt-Buser attended the announcement to talk about the effect that winning the competition had on his startup business. Silverleaf Farms, now based in Corrales, N.M., provides locally grown high quality vegetables to restaurants and school districts in central New Mexico. Silverblatt-Buser said he and his brother used prize money from the competition to help their business grow.

For more information about the UNM/CNM collaboration contact Alberto Solís, albertos@unm.edu or call (505) 277-6172.