The competition encouraged residents of Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties to submit their ideas for small businesses for the opportunity to win up to $5,000 to help in their business pursuits.
“I believe that we have a lot of good ideas in the community,” said Craig Isom, SUU Business Resource Center and Small Business Development Center executive director.
“There is such a wide variety of business ideas. It’s fascinating to see how people think and the ideas that surface,” he added.
This year’s competition did not disappoint. There were 21 imaginative and promising business ideas that were submitted for judging in this year’s competition, according to a press release.
The first-place winners were local residents Steven Walquist and Sterling Holmes, owners of the new company Axis Array.
“Our product is a recently patented universal solar panel mount. We designed it to eliminate production time and cost to make a more accessible and reasonably priced solar mounting option,” Walquist said.
Like the other winners, both were surprised, but grateful when they discovered the results of the competition.
“I was stunned. It was well worth the time for the outcome,” Holmes said.
They received $5,000 for the continued development of their business.
Patrick Henrie and Dustin Gillies from Outlaw Lighting won second place and $3,000 for the development of their company. Their products were street legal kits for UTV’s, ATV’s and side by sides.
The third-place winner was Kevin R. Wood with his user-friendly design for a fishing rod grip and handle combo for maximum holding power. He received $1,000.
Ivie Dotson and Kim Simmerman received $500 for an honorable mention. Their product, the Tunnel Garden, allows users to grow plants all year long and is affordable, durable and portable.
Along with Dotson and Simmerman, Matthew Edwards and SUU students Mark Ashby, Nathan Coats and Benjamin Edwards received an honorable mention and $500 for their Pet Life Boxes, DIY casket and headstone kits for pets. However, this was not the only award this group won.
Along with the Best Business Idea Competition, Zions Bank sponsored the Opportunity Quest Competition. This competition was for SUU students only, and Zions Bank recognized each winner with a sum of money for the continued development of his or her businesses.
Ashby, Coats and Edwards won the first place prize of $2,000 for their idea and business development in addition to the honorable mention for the Best Business Idea.
The second place winner, Brody Fausett, received $1,000 for his product BizNme—an app that can turn any smartphone into a discount directory to get local deals for free at the touch of a button.
Statton Littlefield received $750 for his product, Exist Survival, high quality emergency survival kits.
“We’re happy to see so many great ideas and to have the level of interest we have in this kind of event,” Isom said.
“What’s most rewarding is seeing so many different resources come together (university, public and private) for a very important and common cause,” he added.
This year’s event was sponsored by the SUU Small Business Development Center, Business Resource Center and School of Business, Southwest Applied Technology College, USTAR, Cedar City Area Chamber of Commerce, Cedar Band Corporation, Hughes and Associates, Kohler & Eyre, screenie.com and South Central Communications.
Isom would like to extend his gratitude to the community for their involvement and support of the small businesses in the area.
“Small business is the heart and soul of our community here. We appreciate the involvement of the community and support for things like this,” he said.