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Hy-Vee Awards $50K In Grants During Business Summit

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Last updated on June 24th, 2024 at 09:23 pm

Hy-Vee Inc. awarded $50,000 to minority- and women-owned businesses during the Hy-Vee OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

During the pitch competition, 15 companies from across the Midwest presented to a panel of judges and more than 150 event attendees. The competition included celebrity judge Paul Wahlberg, executive chef and co-owner of Wahlburgers and Alma Nove. Additional judges included Brienne Maner, president of Startup Sioux Falls; Ricky Espino, VP for Inca Salsa; and Shelby Stritzke, VP of fashion, beauty and innovation for Hy-Vee.

Each company representative was able to demonstrate their product or explain their service for the chance to win a small-business grant from Hy-Vee. A Hy-Vee committee selected the participating companies from 50 applications.

Hy-Vee recognized the following during an awards presentation that followed the pitch competition:

Grand Prize Winner – $30,000

Soul Grain, Liza Jackson and Sylvia Williams, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Soul Grain Granola is made with love in small batches to ensure freshness and its signature light crunch. Flavors include Sweet Potato Casserole, Banana Pudding, Coco Mango, Spiced Paradise and Neutral Nelly. All are gluten-free, contain only natural ingredients and no canola oil.

Category: Food and beverage

First place – $5,000

Salas Salsas, Marcela Salas, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

As first-generation immigrant women, the journey of Salas Salsas has been fueled by resilience, passion and a commitment to sharing their heritage through food. Its salsas include Salsa Roja, Salsa Verde, Jalapeño Lime, Sala’s Queso and Salsa Macha.

Category: Innovation and technology

First place – $5,000

Sensiil Studios, Aniekanabasi White, Des Moines, Iowa

As Iowa and Nebraska’s first black comic book publisher, Sensiil Studios aspires to bring representation to the science fiction and fantasy genres. Sensiil Studios is a space where Pan-African people can see themselves and see that they have a future by producing stories with black lead characters.

Category: Health, Wellness & Beauty

First place – $5,000

Healthy Hip Hop, Roy Scott, Kansas City, Missouri

Healthy Hip Hop blends hip-hop culture with cutting-edge technology and educational values to enhance student learning environments and establish a safe online experience for children. Through its dual-sided streaming platform, it integrates culture into classrooms while empowering kids to safely create, publish and share video content.

LAMIK (Chicago) and Jefferson Beer Supply (Jefferson, South Dakota) were also presented with smaller cash prizes for their business ventures.

[RELATED: Diverse Businesses Receive $50K At Hy-Vee Summit]


In addition to the above winners, the following also participated in the pitch competition:

  • Boxes, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • eqUTI, Aberdeen, South Dakota
  • Every Body Eat, Evanston, Illinois
  • IFRI, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • MY AED and CPR SOLUTIONS, Woodbury, Minnesota
  • sisu, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
  • Teresa Wrich Consulting, Hartford, South Dakota
  • TrueToForm, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Yes! Athletics, Topeka, Kansas

The event featured an expo that offered resources for small businesses, as well as learning opportunities through breakout sessions, one-on-one mentoring with Hy-Vee store leaders, the chance to learn about local brands and more.

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

2024 Hy-Vee business summit

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Sommer Stockton

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Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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