Northwest Iowa — Seven of the fourteen contenders for the Northwest Iowa Regional Dream Big Grow Here business grant contest are from our part of Northwest Iowa. They come from Orange City, Sanborn, Rock Rapids, and Rock Valley.

Economic development professionals in the area, who organize the contest say that the Dream Big Grow Here contest is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to fulfill their dreams of self-employment or expansion of their current business. The contest allows entrepreneurs the chance to submit their dreams to start or expand a business, then encourage friends, family, and customers to vote for them online. The finalists will present their idea to an audience and judges in a pitch-off event for a chance to win thousands in cash prizes.

Entrepreneurs in Cherokee, Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties were to submit their business or startup ideas by October 5th.

Those in the contest from our area include:

Brad Gabel of Brad’s Breads of Orange City, who says he’d like to run a small European-style Bakery in Orange City.

Jodi Krikke of JAK Sprat in Sanborn, who says her earring business is run on the kitchen table, and she’s expanding so she could use some system upgrades.

Lindsay Millard of Lindsay’s Flower Patch in Orange City, who says they’re expanding, and a greenhouse would be helpful for them.

Fifteen-year-olds Daniel Stillson and Carter Schuurmans of SnSLabz in Rock Rapids, who say their 3-D printing business is expanding too, and they will need an additional 3-D printer and supplies to take their business to the next level.

Shay Van Schepen of Shaybe’s Boutique in Rock Valley, who says that her home-based clothing boutique is expanding and would like to move to a storefront or buy a trailer.

Nineteen-year-old Ashley Van Sloten of Dutch Dogs LLC in Orange City, who says she’s planning to start a pet boarding, daycare, and grooming service next year. And she’d like to give the pets a fun, safe outdoor play area.

Bart Ver Mulm of Orange Creek Farms in Rock Valley, who says their operation is a small family farm focused on retail high-quality meats instead of selling the whole animals like most farm operations.

Other entries are from Oto, Sioux City, Akron, and Correctionville.

Voting on the submitted ideas is underway now through October 19th. During the voting period, the entrepreneurs are recruiting others to vote for their entry at The top three vote-getters will advance to a regional pitch-off competition, along with two additional entrants chosen by a selection committee. Each finalist will have access to the University of Northern Iowa’s Business Concierge Services, as well as receive personalized coaching from the Small Business Development Center and UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation.

The regional contest will be held the evening of Thursday, November 15th. The finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their ideas with first place receiving $4,000, second place receiving $2,000 and third place receiving $1,000 to grow their business.

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