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Winners Announced for BIG Idea Competition

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

(December 3, 2015, Aberdeen, SD)  The 9th Annual BIG Idea Competition was a BIG success with 263 entries involving over 400 students from 37 schools.  The event wrapped up Thursday, December 3rd, on the campus of Northern State University and the winners were determined from among the eight final entries with over $5,000 in cash and scholarships awarded.


Haley Ketteler of Pierre T.F. Riggs High School took first place with Bent Perspective, an Origami store focusing on teaching the customers how to make origami artwork.  Her prizes included a $1,000 cash prize, a $1,000 scholarship to NSU, and a $1,000 scholarship to Presentation College.  Second place went Caveman Custom Iron by George Bernard and Mark Wesolick of St. Thomas More High School, hand-crafted ironwork that could be used for home décor and tools.  Second place prizes include $500 cash, $500 Presentation College scholarship and $500 NSU scholarship.  The $250 third place prize went to MaKayla Price of Wessington Springs High School with KP Photography which is a photography business that gives one fifth of their profits to charity.


The other finalists included The Cooler Backpack by Cierra Veldhuizen, Jenny Rooks, and Olivia Facenda of St. Thomas More High School; The Spink County Outdoorsman by Tony Baumann of Redfield High School; All Seasons Lighting by Brianna McGinnis, Maria Wilson, and Sophie Wittenberg of St. Thomas More High School; Gerry’s Pumpkin & Produce by Eli Gerry of Madison Central High School; and SoDak Custom Hay Co. by Dalton Larson, Jared Miller and Tyndall Petterson of West Central High School.


The Marketing Design competition is an option for students create a logo and ad for their business idea.  The $500 cash award was sponsored by McQuillen Creative Group.  One hundred ten entries were judged in this category, and the winner was The Calving Book App by Ellen Schlechter of Faulkton High School.

The final event required finalists to make a 6 minute presentation on their idea for the four final judges – Chad Evans of Centennial Homes, Paul McDonald of Dacotah Bank, Paula Carlson of Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., and Rod Tobin of Siegel, Barnett & Schutz.  After the presentations, all participants were invited to a panel discussion with Peri Malsom of CJ’s Patisserie, Terry Schiltz of Ag Sense, and Brett Newton of World Classrooms. They spoke about all aspects of being an entrepreneur.  Each panelist shared their achievements and struggles in starting and owning their own business, and offered advice for those who might one day want to turn their BIG Idea into reality.

This year’s BIG Idea competition also included an honorable mention award for those applicants who scored within 10% of the finalists. The 55 honorable mention idea entries and 4 honorable mention marketing designs are listed below (as well attached). In addition to the schools listed above, students from the following high schools also participated: Aberdeen Central,  Bridgewater-Emery, Bowdle, Canistota, Canton, Dupree,  Edmunds Central, Ethan, Eureka, Faith, Groton, Hitchcock-Tulare, Hoven, Ipswich, Iroquois, Lead-Deadwood, Leola, Milbank, Mitchell, Montrose, Northwestern, Redfield, Sioux Valley, Sioux Falls Christian, Swift Home School, Vermillion, Wagner, Warner, Watertown , and Wilmot.


The BIG Idea Competition encourages students to consider new ideas as well as opportunities that can be implemented locally and to support them in creating an entrepreneurial view of their future.    The competition is coordinated by the Small Business Development Center.  Sponsors for 2015 included Sanford Health, East River Electric, REED Fund, Midcontinent Communications, Dacotah Bank, Student Loan Financial Corporation, Northwestern Energy, Aberdeen Development Corporation, McQuillen Creative Group and the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation.  The Competition is a result of the input and collaboration of many organizations including: Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen Downtown Association, Aberdeen Catholic School System – Roncalli High School, Aberdeen School District – Central High School, Northern State University, and Presentation College.  

Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 626-2565 or  For more information about the competition, see

Category: GROW SD

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A Half-Century of Serving South Dakotans

In 1978, NESDCAP created the Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation (NESDEC) as a revolving loan fund to focus on small business lending and job creation in 22 counties. In 2007, Grow South Dakota, was formed to provide housing, community and economic development statewide. Through services to individuals, technical assistance to community and economic development agencies, and loans to small businesses and homebuyers, GROW South Dakota has had broad and lasting impact.

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