College of Business & Technology

Proposed by Western Illinois University alum, Mr. David Stafford (’93, Accounting) and hosted by the College of Business and Technology, The Stafford Challenge energizes the competitive spirit and challenges participants to combine their knowledge, research, and creativity to identify and develop real-world business ventures.

The Situation:

A sixty-five (65) acre parcel of land (west side of Knox County parcel #: 07-33-400-008) within a mile of Oak Run, a lake-centered residential development with 2600 residential lots and a clubhouse and a golf course is being acquired for the purpose of commercial development. The parcel (15+ acres of tillable land) located 15 miles away from Galesburg, IL is currently undeveloped and the investor group wishes to identify novel and unique ways to create a significant, positive cash flow from the property acquisition. While the property is currently zoned farmland, re-zoning activities are possible.

The Challenge:

Identify and develop the initial proposal for converting the identified property into a profit-generating, value-added business venture.

The Prize:

$5,000 cash prize to any invested idea.

Participation Details:

  • All commercially viable ideas are welcome.
  • Land consumption is flexible. Not all 65 acres needs to be used.
  • Open to Western Illinois University students (graduate and undergraduate) and individuals who have graduated within the past two years. Team submissions are allowed.
  • Submissions should assume that $1,000,000 in capital exists to execute the proposed plan.
  • Entries will be evaluated, based on 1) the business idea’s viability, 2) novelty, 3) alignment with ROI objectives of the investor group.
  • All submissions become intellectual property of Conch Shell Investments, LLC.

Required Deliverables:

  • A maximum seven-page business proposal including initial investment/start-up costs and five-year financial projections are required. Supporting market research may be attached as an appendix to the business plan.
  • A maximum five-minute video pitch must accompany and explain the core of the written business proposal.
  • Final submissions e-mailed to by January 31, 2022. Upload videos to Google Drive and share file with
  • Any questions can be submitted to