The winner of this year’s Dream Big Grow Here Iowa Innovation Gateway contest was Lisa Marshall, Red Ribbon Bakery of Knoxville. “I think that the money will help in a huge way! For a small business, even a minimal amount of money, if managed correctly, can take your dream a long way. It will help us expand and grow our business to take it to the next level. My advice to any small business is to check out the Dream Big Grow Here contest next year and enter it! Just being a part of this contest, and working at it every day created excitement for us as well as our customers. We had so much fun being a part of it!” The Dream Big Grow Here regional pitch off event was held on November 13th the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Innovation Gateway region.
Dream Big Grow Here is an annual statewide contest for entrepreneurs and small business owners to win cash to start or grow their Iowa business. To participate, small business owners simply upload their ‘dreams’ during a regional contest administered by Iowa Innovation Gateway. They then encourage friends, customers and other business owners to vote for them. Wildly popular, 14 companies competed in the Innovation Gateway’s regional contest found at www.DreamBigGrowHere.com this year. During the contest, more than 43,000 pageviews and thousands of online votes were cast. Each regional contest winner will go on for a chance to win another $10,000 grand prize cash award at EntreFest early next year.
The other four Dream Big Grow Here finalists included Dana Simbro, Boomerang’s, Newton; Debbie Siedrel, Debbie’s Celebration Barn, Oskaloosa; Jeff Greenhalgh, After Hours Archery, Oskaloosa; and Roger Brown, Iowa River Brewing Co Inc., Marshalltown. Although they did not win the business grant, many of them reported increased visibility for their firm, and appreciated the recognition of the important role they play in the strength of the local economy. A long list of regional and state sponsors collaborate to provide the contests and cash awards for Dream Big Grow Here. In addition to Innovation Gateway, state sponsors include the University of Northern Iowa MyEntre.Net, Iowa Bankers Association, Renew Rural Iowa, Iowa Economic Development Authority, VentureNet, Delta Dental of Iowa, and the Technology Association of Iowa. Dream Big Grow Here is a program of UNI Business and Community Services.
Local sponsors of this contest were DMACC and MEDIC. Congratulations Red Ribbon Bakery and good luck in the state contest!