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Posted on April 3, 2012

A Cal U senior has won second place in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Student Business Plan Competition.

Chaz Sztroin, a senior graphic communications major, was awarded $5,000 for his plan to promote mixed martial arts competitions. The money is to be used for business development.

Sztroin competed against a total of 236 submissions, which were whittled to 25 and then to six before a panel of judges chose the winners.

“I’m honored that they chose me second,” Sztroin said. “The whole reason I entered the competition was to validate what I had assumed was a good plan and a good business going forward. Winning second place has given validity to the concept.”

Another team from Cal U —  Michael Rhoads, a senior business administration major, and Matthew Lacey, a freshman business administration major — was among the top 25 finishers.

Rhoads and Lacey have created Keystone Agriculture Consulting, which specializes in resource management, feed and livestock brokerage and technology integration.

The three students traveled to Harrisburg on April 2 for the awards ceremony. They were accompanied by Provost Geraldine Jones; Dr. Len Collelli, dean of the Eberly College of Science and Technology; and Kelly Hunt, executive director of the Cal U Entrepreneurial Leadership Center and Student Incubator.

At Cal U, the competition was coordinated through the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center.

“We are very proud of our students for their hard work in preparing for this competition. All of them had wonderful ideas,” Hunt said.

“The education we give our students is great. We just need to come alongside of them to develop the opportunity.”

Sztroin said finishing second is a big boost. 

“This will hopefully open up some doors that wouldn’t be open had I not done as well,” he says, with an eye toward holding his first mixed martial arts events as soon as fall 2012.

Rhoads and Lacey met at the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center and already are serving clients with their business, Keystone Agriculture LLC.

“Matt is a powerhouse of knowledge when it comes to the ag aspect, and I bring the business knowledge,” Rhoads explained. “We have similar interests, and Kelly (Hunt) brought us together at the center.”

All three students work at the center, offering support and advice to one another and to others who may have a business idea.

“We help each other out,” Sztroin said. “A lot of peer mentoring goes on here. Anytime you can be with like-minded individuals who see themselves on an upward trajectory, that’s a positive thing.”