Maggie Connell has another $175 to put toward her postsecondary endeavors.
The Seymour High School senior was named the Judges’ Choice for Research and Preparation at the Maverick Challenge regional competition, which was conducted virtually Feb. 20.
That was followed by her winning the 10th annual Jackson County Maverick Challenge on Jan. 20, which also was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She took the top prize of $2,500.
Her business plan was for Sunset Vistas, a retirement community for people ages 55 and older with the option of a one- or two-bedroom apartment or condominium. The free, independent living community would have golf, a swimming pool, indoor activities, outdoor activities, educational classes, reading time and more.
Between the county and regional competitions, Connell said she reached out and used her contacts heavily. That included Marvin Veatch and Jim Gray with JCB, which was a funding sponsor for the county competition.
"Their knowledge of the finances and industry is what really took my presentation to the next level," Connell said.
Her regional presentation included a lot more financial research, she said.
"For my actual virtual presentation, it was different because of COVID and not being able to be in the school doing it," she said. "I was in my kitchen at the table giving a presentation in front of four judges."
She received positive feedback from the judges.
"They want to see me develop this even farther and pushed me to enter into the Innovative WithIN competition," she said of another high school pitch contest in Indiana.
She also was happy to receive the award and additional money. She plans to study marketing and play volleyball in college.
"Being able to receive the research and preparation award opened my eyes and also lifted some weight off my shoulders knowing that all the time and preparation I had prior to the competitions finally paid off," Connell said.
Along with Veatch and Gray sharing information that really changed her presentation, Connell expressed gratitude to her Principles of Marketing teacher, Dawn Jones, for her dedication to the Maverick Challenge.
"I wouldn’t have had the same outcome if it wasn’t for them," she said.
Jesse Kogge, Julia Layton and Aidan Mahaffey of the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship and Bloomington High School North were the winners of the regional competition with their business plan for AR Odyssey. They won $1,500.
Trey Nebergall of Columbus North High School was second with his business plan for Aspire Group and earned $1,000.
The other award was Judges’ Choice for Spotlight on Innovation, which went to Madie Hoog and Lana Lischkge of Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception with their business plan for Gutter Butler. They each received $175.
Overall, there were six teams or individuals presenting for the regional.
"Each team did an outstanding job of representing their county in a very tight competition," said Courtney Rushton, the Maverick Challenge coordinator who works for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber started the Maverick Challenge in 2008. High school students from 12 area counties are invited to participate.
Locally, Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., the Seymour Chamber of Commerce and Brownstown/Ewing Main Street are the sponsors.
This year, individuals and duos from Seymour and Brownstown Central high schools submitted written plans for the county competition.
Since 2011, Jackson County students have earned more than $62,000 through the Maverick Challenge.
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For information about the Maverick Challenge, visit maverickchallenge.com or sites.google.com/view/jacksoncountymaverickchallenge.