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Hy-Vee awards $50K in grants to 3 Iowa businesses

​​​​​​​Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY pitch competition in Hiawatha helps advance minority- and women-owned businesses.

Hy-Vee is continuing to show its support of minority- and women-owned businesses with an award of $50,000 presented during its OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit in Hiawatha.

Gnarly Pepper from Cedar Rapids was the overall winner of the pitch competition, receiving a business grant of $25,000. LuLit’s Hair Essence from Evansdale came in second and Variegate from Iowa City came in third, receiving $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Sara Larson is founder of Gnarly Pepper, which offers a healthy alternative to traditional dips and condiments. Rosie Daniel of LuLit’s Hair Essence provides natural solutions to hair loss and skin irritations. Variegate founder Dasia Taylor offers an innovative medical solution that provides color-changing stitches that detect infections.

[Read more: Hy-Vee to host 3rd 'Best of Local Brands' summit]

The pitch competition took place in conjunction with Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at the Kirkwood Community College Linn County Regional Center. During the event, 10 minority- and women-owned businesses were selected to showcase their products or services to a panel of judges. Eligible businesses offer retail-ready solutions in one of the following categories: food and beverage, product innovation and technology, health and beauty, sustainability and service, and entertainment. In addition to the winners, the following businesses also participated in the pitch competition:

  • 5 Borough Bagels in Clive, Iowa
  • BOCS DSM in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Crazy Goat Soap in Dubuque, Iowa
  • DogCuterie Box in Clear Lake, Iowa
  • eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R. in Andover, Kan.
  • Linda Tong Planners in Urbandale, Iowa
  • The Pink Umbrella Bakery in Coralville, Iowa

Local professionals and community members attended the daylong conference, which included a small business vendor expo, small group panel discussions and a special keynote presentation.

[Read more: Hy-Vee to debut reimagined store]

Speakers included Taufeek Shah, founder and CEO of Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce; Maurice Davis, business strategist with Entrepreneur Edge Service; and the Hon. Tiffany O’Donnell, CEO of Women Lead Change and mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

The OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit is one of several events Hy-Vee has that support minority- and women-owned businesses in the communities they serve. Hy-Vee said that it remains committed to inclusivity by expanding product and service offerings that appeal to diverse lifestyles and backgrounds.

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