Edison State wins Pitch Piqua


By Haylee Pence

[email protected]

PIQUA — Edison State Community College walked away with a $50,000 grant top grand prize, after competing as one of the three finalist organizations in the second annual Pitch Piqua competition.

The three organizations include Health Partners Free Clinic represented by Deborah Miller and JoAnn Barhorst, Upper Valley Career Center represented by Tim Cordonnier and Sara Plozay, and Edison State Community College represented by Dr. Andy Runyan and Laura Larger.

Each organization has to “pitch” their project that they’ve been developing alongside the Piqua Community Foundation team. The competition began in July of 2022 with an application process. A committee selected semifinalists and conducted interviews which led to the three finalists. The finalists were announced in September. They then began developing their projects until the Pitch Piqua event on Thursday, March 2.

While developing their projects, each organization was discouraged from discussing their project.

Each organization had five minutes to pitch their project to an audience and a panel of judges. Then, they had five minutes of questions from the judges. The pitches were ranked by a variety of criteria including the impact on Piqua residents, evidence to support the need of the project, and readiness to launch, as the winning project is expected to launch within six months.

This year’s judges included Amy Welker, assistant city manager, Jeff Pedro Jr. with Crooked Handle Brewing Company, Andrew Monnin, with VPP Industries Inc., and Rebecca Sousek, executive director of Piqua Compassion Network, the winning organization from last year. The other judge is the community who can vote by donating at least $10 to the organization of their choice which goes directly to the organization. The organizations that don’t win the grand prize will still receive a $5,000 grant each.

Edison State Community College one the pitch for their project “Prepared.”

The project involves utilizing virtual reality equipment to run scenarios for first responders for training. The project would also allow for teachers in local schools, local police offices, and local businesses to utilize the equipment in case of an armed intruder situation. The total cost of the equipment and upgrades to the police academy classroom totals to $62,500 which the remaining costs will come from Edison and the Edison Foundation.

Runyan finished the pitch by saying, “Help us train our first responders using virtual reality so we can all be prepared when an unwanted intruder becomes your reality.”

The Edison project received 113 community votes and a total of $1,718.85 in total community donations which is added to their grand prize of $50,000 to create a total of $51,718.85.

After receiving the grand prize, both Runyan and Larger said “it was exciting” and a “total shock” to be selected as winners.

“Thank you so much. It was so exciting to see so many people here tonight from Edison, including our students. We are humbled by their support,” said Runyan.

“We hope that the other projects find ways to do theirs because it’s all good stuff,” commented Runyan. “Thank you to the foundation for putting on the event.”

The second place organization was Upper Valley Career Center which pitched The Salon @ 8811, a mobile hair salon for their cosmetology students. They received 32 community votes with a total of $816.19 for a grand total of $5,816 19.

The third place organization was Health Partners Free Clinic which pitched “Save our Sisters.” The project includes expanding their current operation to include breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings at their clinic. They would also be a resource to refer patients to other oncology programs in the area. They received 94 community votes and a total of $2,577.48 in community donations for a grand total of $7,577.48.

Andrew Snyder, vice president of Piqua Community Foundation Board of Directors, commented, “I truly believe that no matter which one of these organizations win tonight, our community is going to win as a whole.”

Michelle Perry, executive director of the Piqua Community Foundation, said, “It was an incredible evening. I love the energy in the room and the way that the community rallies around these finalist teams and the amazing work that they’re already doing in our community and their vision for more. I’m blown away.”

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