The Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Award represents the pinnacle of Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competitions in Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Each competition has a graduate and an undergraduate track. The top two winning teams from each track compete in the Tri-State event for a cash prize pool of $118,000.

The Tri-State Award and each state’s business plan competition are funded in part by a major gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, named after the late media entrepreneur. Each state also relies on sponsorships from their business and education communities.


The statewide Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition has been fortunate to receive the support of many universities and colleges. In the spirit of promoting entrepreneurship, the following schools have participated in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup:

In Arkansas

  • Arkansas Baptist College
  • Arkansas State University – Jonesboro
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • Harding University
  • Henderson State University
  • Hendrix College
  • John Brown University
  • Lyon College
  • Ouachita Baptist University
  • Philander Smith College
  • Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia
  • University of Arkansas – Fayetteville
  • University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Arkansas at Monticello
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • University of the Ozarks
  • Williams Baptist College

In Nevada

  • College of Southern Nevada
  • Great Basin College
  • Morrison University
  • Nevada State College
  • Sierra Nevada College
  • Truckee Meadows Community College
  • University of Nevada – Las Vegas
  • University of Nevada – Reno
  • University of Southern Nevada
  • Western Nevada College

In Oklahoma

  • Cameron University
  • East Central University
  • Langston University
  • Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College
  • Oklahoma City Community College
  • Oklahoma City University
  • Oklahoma State University-OKC
  • Oklahoma State University-Stillwater
  • Oklahoma State University-Tulsa
  • Oral Roberts University
  • Rogers State University
  • Southeastern University
  • St. Gregory’s University
  • The University of Tulsa
  • Tulsa Community College
  • University of Central Oklahoma
  • University of Oklahoma-Norman
  • University of Oklahoma-OUHSC-OKC
  • University of Oklahoma-OUHSC-Tulsa
  • University of Oklahoma-Tulsa

What Students Say:

The best part [of the competition] was the complete process. – Kaustav Sinha, Team Leader of NanoVation, University of Nevada – Reno

Business leaders from Arkansas judged our plans, critically analyzed the gaps in the plan, and gave us professional advice on how we could improve it. This type of exposure is something most students will never get. – Matt Tice, Team Leader, John Brown University

This competition… has facilitated networking and financing opportunities that would have taken me years to develop. – Stuart Walker, Team Leader, University of Arkansas

If it weren’t for the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition, I doubt I would have broken away from the corporate ladder climb. – John Hassell, Team Leader of Zigbeef, University of Oklahoma – Tulsa

What really inspired me was competing in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup and seeing that there was actual interest. I always wanted to run my own business and now it’s becoming a reality. – Ted Goodridge, Team Leader of Elite Engines, University of Oklahoma

The Evolution of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup

2001 The Arkansas Capital Corporation conceived the idea for statewide business plan competition to promote and elevate the discussion for entrepreneurship with the state. This vision was about creating a first-class competition; one that would send a message to students that the resources to succeed in business can be found right here in Arkansas. Since then, this statewide business plan competition has, not only achieved that goal, but the competition has since spurred the creation of several other statewide business plan competitions.
2003 The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition created a separate track for undergraduate and graduate students.
2004 The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation made a major grant to the competition, while providing the funds to establish sister statewide business plan competitions in Oklahoma and Nevada. With the foundation’s gift, the competition was named after the late media entrepreneur Donald W. Reynolds, for whom the foundation is also named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.
2005 The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF) created the state’s first annual Youth Entrepreneur Showcase (Y.E.S.) for Arkansas.  Y.E.S. for Arkansas is a statewide business plan competition where students in grades 5-8 showcase their potential for creativity, intuition, and innovation.  This approach encourages students to apply what they learn in school to a real world setting.
2008 On May 15, 2008, the First Annual Tri-State business plan competition was held in Las Vegas. The Tri-State Award represents the pinnacle of the three statewide business plan competitions for Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Here, the top two teams (undergraduate & graduate) from each state will compete for cash awards totaling $90,000.
2009 The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition has incorporated Arkansas’s 2 Year Colleges and Universities into the undergraduate track.

Donald W. ReynoldsDonald W. Reynolds


Donald Worthington Reynolds was born in 1906 to Anna Louise and Gaines W. Reynolds, a traveling wholesale grocery salesman. He spent his childhood in Oklahoma City and got his first job in the newspaper business selling papers at the local railroad depot.

After high school, the young Mr. Reynolds decided that he wanted to attend the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. To pay for his studies, he worked during high school and over several summers at a meat packing plant in Oklahoma City. He graduated from the University in 1927.

Mr. Reynolds first business venture after his graduation was a photo engraving plant. With $1,000 in capital (part of which he borrowed), he invested a photo engraving plant. Using profits from this venture, he purchased and then sold his first newspaper – the Quincy Evening News (Massachusetts). Using proceeds from that sale, he purchased the Okmulgee Daily Times (Oklahoma) and the Southwest Times Record (Arkansas), the two publications that launched the Donrey Media Group.

The Donrey Media Group operated mostly in small communities. Throughout his life Mr. Reynolds continually expanded his business enterprise, ultimately owning over 100 businesses, including newspapers, radio stations, television stations, cable television operations, and billboard companies. The Donrey Media Group became one of the nation’s largest privately held media companies.

Upon his death in 1993, Donrey Media Group was sold. As a bequest from Mr. Reynolds estate, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation which he created in 1954 received a substantial endowment. Since his business acumen was focused on businesses located in small, but growth-oriented communities, these communities were often the recipients of the Foundation’s earliest charitable grants. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation continues his legacy of charitable giving and it is from this foundation that a multi-million dollar grant was awarded to the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF) in 2004 to promote entrepreneurship education within the states of Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma.