The BIG Challenge Finalists Announced

Earlier this month entrepreneurs submitted their idea to start or expand a business in The BIG Challenge grant competition and recruited family, friends and customers to vote for their entry. Over 7,500 total votes were cast and today we are announcing the top three vote getters along with two additional entrants chosen by a selection committee who will advance to the pitch competition. These finalists will have the opportunity to present their idea to an audience and judges in a pitch event for a chance to win thousands in cash prizes. The five finalists are:

– Carroll Street Treats (Reece Vander Zee) – Rock Rapids

– WalkMemoryLane (Ashley Nwaokolo) – Sheldon

– Roots Substance Abuse Counseling (Jonathan VanTuyl) – Sioux City

– Ability Tech (Dustin Rhoades) – Sioux City

– S2B Fishing Supplies (Donita Stubbe) – Rock Rapids

The economic development organizations in Northwest Iowa will host the pitch-off event on Thursday, November 17th at the Design West building (1014 Design Place) in Sioux City. A social hour with food and beverages will begin at 5:00 p.m. During this time, each finalist will have a booth set up to showcase their business for attendees to visit. At 6:00 p.m. each finalist will have 6 minutes to present their business, followed by 5 minutes of Q & A from the panel of judges. The winners of the competition will be announced at 7:30 p.m. with first place receiving $5,000, second place receiving $3,000, third place receiving $2,000, to help grow their businesses.

The BIG Challenge is sponsored and organized by Iowa’s West Coast Initiative and Northwest Iowa Developers and includes the following counties: Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury. Siouxland Economic Development Corporation is also a sponsor of the event. The event is free and open to the public. Additional information about each entry and the finalists can be found by visiting