College Hill Alliance, Mercer Business School Hosting Competition to Determine ‘The Next Big Idea’ Among Area Students


MACON – The College Hill Alliance and Mercer University's Stetson School of Business and Economics will host a competition among area college and university students to identify “The Next Big Idea” on April 5 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on the Macon campus.

The Next Big Idea Competition will feature 12 teams representing six Central Georgia institutions – Mercer, Central Georgia Technical College, Fort Valley State University, Georgia College, Middle Georgia State College and Wesleyan College.

“We are very excited to be part of a groundswell of interest and activity around new enterprise in Middle Georgia,” said Dr. Susan Perles Gilbert, dean of the Stetson School of Business and Economics. “When the College Hill Alliance asked if any of the schools in the region wanted to conduct a business plan competition for undergraduates, we were the first to raise our hands and volunteer. The Stetson School of Business and Economics will continue to support interest in new startups as part of our mission through our new entrepreneurship major, our research center on public policy and capitalism, and other initiatives related to economic development.”

The competition is designed to encourage students to make their business dreams a reality – and there is $15,000 in prize money at stake to help them do so. The winning team receives $10,000, with $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third.

Thirty percent of the first-place prize money will be awarded at the finals, with the remainder held in escrow by the College Hill Alliance and awarded when the team presents evidence that the idea will be implemented in Central Georgia. Second- and third-place prize money will be awarded at the finals.

“Working with the other collegiate representatives has been a wonderfully collaborative experience. Rivalries aside, we never lost sight of the students' learning experience in the process. The excitement and creativity shown by the students has been inspiring,” said Dr. Linda L. Brennan, associate dean and professor of management in the Stetson School of Business and Economics, who also serves as Mercer's faculty coordinator for the competition.

All students enrolled at the six institutions for the current spring semester were eligible to enter. Teams registered their business plans online by the March 10 deadline. From that pool of registered teams, each institution chose up to two semifinalist teams. Those teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for an opening round of judging on Saturday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. The four advancing teams will then be announced and go on to a final round of judging.

The community is invited to attend the final round of judging, 12:30-3 p.m., and the subsequent announcement of the winners in the Peyton Anderson Auditorium, located in Room 110 of the Science and Engineering Building. This location is easily accessible to I-75 via Exit 163.

For more information about the competition, contact Nadia Osman at (478) 301-2008 or

About the College Hill Alliance

Initially established with a grant to Mercer University from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2009, the College Hill Alliance assists the community in creating positive change to the physical, social and economic fabric of the College Hill Corridor, a two-square mile area between Mercer's campus and Macon's downtown business district. For more information, contact Jessica Walden at the College Hill Alliance: (478) 301-2014 or Visit

About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review as No. 3 for “Greatest Opportunity for Women” and one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.”

The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time MBA, Flexible MBA, Executive MBA and Virtual Professional MBA), Macon (Traditional BBA and Flexible MBA), Savannah (Virtual PMBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA).

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​