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Date: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

UH Hilo Business students win undergraduate business plan competition

A team from the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Business and Economics (CoBE) business planning course placed first in the undergraduate division at the annual statewide PACE Business Plan Competition this past spring. The $1,000 prize for the top scoring undergraduate team, sponsored by The Case Foundation, went to the Na Leo Softball Academy.

Seniors Leo Sing Chow and Natalie Fujimoto led the team in writing the winning plan for the academy that will help young East Hawai`i women hone their softball skills and attain athletic scholarships. Other team members include Yoko Nakamichi, Amy Parks, Jodi Peralta, Kahealani Silva, and Laura Tanaka.

Sing Chow and Fujimoto, who are members of the UH Hilo Vulcan softball team, say the mission of their proposed business is grounded in the belief that helping young women develop as athletes and individuals will help them succeed in softball and life. Still, the success of their initiative took both by surprise.

“When we found out we were the highest scoring undergraduate team, we were both speechless,” Sing Chow said. “We could not believe that we had won, but we were both extremely proud of what we have accomplished,” Fujimoto added.

The pair plans to start the softball academy after graduation in spring 2007. In addition to the cash prize, Sing Chow and Fujimoto will receive expert venture counseling for their business.

Professor Emmeline dePillis guided the creation of the business plan through her course, “Business Planning for New Ventures,” developed from grant funding obtained in 1999. dePillis believes the competition and resulting outcome will encourage more East Hawai`i entrepreneurs to empower themselves.

“These young women are committed to using their skills and knowledge to make the community healthier in every way,” dePillis said.

The course requires students to work in teams to research and write a comprehensive business plan. From its inception, it has proven to be popular among business majors and other students interested in building their own enterprises.

“Courses such as these provide our students with the opportunity to practice their skills and help them on the path to realizing their entrepreneurship dreams,” said Dr. Marcia Sakai, dean, CoBE.

The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and E-Business (PACE) at UH Manoa (http://www.cba.hawaii.edu/bpc/) is dedicated to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in Hawai`i. They have hosted the Business Plan competition since 2001.

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