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Monday, August 12, 2019

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by Kelly Weaver, Small Business Development Center Regional Director

Youth! Entrepreneurship! Cash! Scholarships! These are the key ingredients in the 2019 BIG Idea Competition launching on September 1. High school students across South Dakota are invited to compete in this business idea competition where over $25,000 in cash and scholarships are awarded.

Students will be able to submit their business idea applications online from September 1 until October 31, 2019. The online application as well as various resources and examples can be accessed at the BIG Idea website: For the optional marketing design competition, students can create an ad to support their business idea. This year there will be three special category awards including: Wellness, Food Animal Agriculture and Agriculture Innovation (new).

Coordinator Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center said, “Understanding the basics of business is important to students, regardless of their career path. The BIG Idea Competition is a great way for students to learn about those business basics. For those students interested in pursuing a business, we can connect them with resources and mentors to help further their entrepreneurial growth and business success. We are also excited to be offering even more prizes this year.”

Applications submitted by the October 31, 2019 deadline will be reviewed and ranked by judges across the state. The eight (8) top scoring entries will be invited to the final competition and will make a presentation for the final judging component. The top three applications will receive cash awards of $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively. Remaining finalists will receive $100 each. College scholarships to Northern State University, Presentation College and SD School of Mines & Technology will be awarded as well. One winner will be chosen from among all the marketing design entries as well as each of the three special categories. Prizes for these four awards are a $500 cash prize and a $500 scholarship to Northern State University.

The final competition and awards event will be held on Wednesday, December 11 at Northern State University in Aberdeen. Students will participate in various activities surrounding entrepreneurship. Prior to the awards presentation, all finalists will give an elevator pitch of their business idea and hear a keynote presentation from Phil Zuckerman of Applewood Books in Massachusetts.

Since inception in 2007, the BIG Idea Competition has involved over 3,300 students from 94 schools. The competition is open to all high school students in the state. Past winners, sponsors, and competition guidelines can be found at Questions regarding BIG Idea can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 626-2565 or

Kelly Weaver is the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center in Aberdeen which offers free, confidential business consulting to start up and existing businesses. She can be reached at (605) 626-2565 or The Center is hosted by GROW South Dakota.

Category: GROW SD, GROW SD In The News

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The GROW South Dakota Organizations Have had a Remarkable Few Years!

NESDEC celebrated 42 years in 2020, closing 60 business loans for a total of $3.8 million.

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GROW South Dakota

GROW South Dakota
104 Ash Street East | Sisseton, SD  57262
Phone (605) 698-7654 | Fax (605) 698-3038