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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Youth! Cash! Scholarships!  Entrepreneurship Education! Community Support!


These are the key ingredients in the BIG Idea Competition which is launching its 9th year of competition this fall.  High school students across South Dakota are invited to compete in this business idea competition, and winners will receive nearly $5,000 in cash awards and scholarships. 


Students may work individually or as a team and will be able to submit their business idea applications online from September 1 until October 31, 2015.  The online application as well as various resources and examples can be accessed at the BIG Idea website: .  The written idea entry consists of a maximum 1075-word description of the student(s)’ business concept.  For the optional marketing design competition, students will create an ad and logo to support their business idea. 


Coordinator Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center said, “We are excited for the 2015 BIG Idea Competition.  It’s a great experience for students interested in learning about business.  For students already seriously pursuing a business, we can connect them with resources and mentors to help further their entrepreneurial growth and business success."


All applications submitted by the October 31, 2015 deadline will be reviewed and ranked by several judges across the state.  The eight (8) top scoring idea applications 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.  College scholarships to both Northern State University and Presentation College will be awarded as well.  One winner will be chosen from among all the marketing design entries and be awarded $500.


The final competition and awards event will be held on Thursday, December 3rd at Northern State University in Aberdeen.  Students will participate in a panel discussion with several successful entrepreneurs.  Students will hear the journey that these entrepreneurs have traveled and be able to ask questions of them.  Prior to the awards presentation, all finalists will give an elevator pitch of their business idea. 


In its eight years of existence, the BIG Idea Competition has received 1,315 entries involving nearly 1,800 students representing 67 schools.  The competition is open to any high school student in the state.  The winning entry in 2014 was Ace the Pace presented by Rachel Schartz of West Central High School.  A complete listing of the 2014 finalists can be found on the BIG Idea website along with a video of their elevator pitches.


Homegrown businesses are key to the success of our rural communities, and a major goal of the BIG Idea competition is to increase the spirit of entrepreneurship.  By exposing our youth to new ideas and innovation, they can consider entrepreneurship as an option for their future. Rather than leaving the region to look for a job, they can have the confidence to create their own opportunities close to home and know that there is support for them should they choose to do so.

The competition is organized by a broad based committee of economic development organizations, educational institutions, and private businesses and coordinated by the Small Business Development Center.  Supporters include Sanford Health, East River Electric, REED Fund, Dacotah Bank, Student Loan Finance Corporation, Northwestern Energy, Northern State University, Presentation College, McQuillen Creative Group, Aberdeen Development Corporation, and the Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation.  Other collaborating organizations include: Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce, Aberdeen Downtown Association, Aberdeen Catholic School System – Roncalli High School, and Aberdeen School District – Central High School. Questions regarding the competition can be directed to Kelly Weaver of the Small Business Development Center at (605) 626-2565 or  

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A Half-Century of Serving South Dakotans

For more than half a century, the three nonprofit organizations comprising GROW South Dakota have fulfilled a vision of “GROWing sustainable communities through housing, community and economic development.” In 1966 the Northeast South Dakota Community Action Program (NESDCAP) was established as a Community Action Agency in the War on Poverty and has served thousands in 17 counties with emergency services as well as various housing programs.

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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