2012 BIG Idea Finalists with Sponsors:
SEATED: Cheryl Ulmen, Pierre T.F. Riggs HS; Aubrey Wald, Madison Rodriguez, Sabrina Rasmussen, Michaella Stahl, Kaylynn Noethlich STANDING: (first row) JoEllen Lindner, Presentation College; Kathryn Kilpatrick, Kendra Steffes, Hillary Rounds, Austin Lentsch, Rachel Lynch, Rachel Schartz, Janet Hallberg, Doland HS (back row) Christine Rodas, Brookings HS; Troy McQuillen, McQuillen Creative Group; Dr. James Smith, NSU; Alexander Thomason, Tyler Hoffman, Linda Petersen, West Central HS; Julie Johnson, Absolutely!Aberdeen; and Kelly Weaver, BIG Idea Committee. Not Pictured: Samuel Ryckman, Marketing Design winner.
“As a young entrepreneur, what business would you start in your world to make it a better place to live?”
That’s the question put forward by the Big Idea competition, which encourages kids to think about what business ideas might work in their own region.
“This competition is about exposing youth to new ideas and innovation in the hopes that you will view entrepreneurship as an option for your future,” according to the BigIdeaSD.com  website. “Rather than leaving the region to look for a job, you can have the confidence to create your own opportunities close to home and know that there is support for you should you choose to do so. Homegrown businesses are key to the success of our rural communities.”
Students from 30 different schools sent in 207 applications before the Oct. 31 deadline of the 2012 contest.
Judges from around the region narrowed the list of finalists to eight, and three of those are from the Dakotafire area:
- Tyler Hoffman, Leola High School, “Hoffman Custom Corn Chopping”
- Kaylynn Noethlich and Michaella Stahl, Doland High School, “M&K’s Details & Designs”
- Rachel Lynch and Sabrina Rasmussen, Doland High School, “Tot Stop Daycare”
The remaining finalists were from Pierre, Brookings, Hartford and Sioux Falls.
Those eight finalists competed for cash prizes ($1,000 for first place) and scholarships from Northern State University and Presentation College at the Big Idea Final Competition on Dec. 6. Rachel Schwartz from West Central High School took the top prize for her idea, a business called “Canning Coaches.”
All of the students who entered were invited to attend the award ceremony, which included a panel discussion with area business owners.
Seventy of the applicants also entered the marketing design competition with a logo and ad for their idea. The marketing winner for 2012 is Samuel Ryckman, a homeschool student from Pierre, S.D.
The competition is coordinated by the Small Business Development Center and funded by Absolutely!Aberdeen, McQuillen Creative Group, and Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation.