PioBiz has its roots in a 2007 initiative devised by Frank Christy, President of Marietta-based Christy & Associates, Inc., and Pamela Lankfor, Director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Marietta (SBDC), who spearheaded a joint venture to introduce the use of micro loans for new and growing business ventures in Marietta and Washington County. Marietta College subsequently joined the effort by providing students who worked with the local entrepreneurs in the development of business plans. Local banks provided the funds, which were used to finance a new or struggling business. The Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley regional Development District managed the loans, including the loan processing. Our students gained valuable real-world experience through their participation in this project. While all the elements were in place for a successful project, very few local entrepreneurs stepped up to take advantage of these micro loans. As a result, the project did not realize its full potential.
The lack of local entrepreneurs taking advantage of these opportunities has prompted Marietta College's Business & Economics (B&E) Department and the McDonough Center to explore an alternative model. Every year, hundreds of Marietta College students graduate and leave the area — taking with them energy, creativity, and entrepreneurial enthusiasm. We seek thorough this competition to award an MC graduate a grant each year to be used for the development of a new business in the community.