The Yakima County Development Association and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce announced today that three emerging businesses were selected as winners of the association’s fifth annual business plan contest.
Whipsaw Brewing won the Enterprise Challenge and will receive $10,000. Whipsaw Brewing produces high quality, fresh beer for its tap room in the heart of Ellensburg and for distribution statewide. They are a local hot spot being the only family and pet friendly tasting room in town. They pride themselves on their partnerships with other brewers and eateries with a vision to claim Ellensburg as a craft brew destination. Their passion and commitment to creating excellent beer as well as a unique customer experience sets them on a path for growth.
Sorbatto placed second in the contest and will receive $5,000. Sorbatto is a premium whole fruit, blueberry based frozen dessert. This Frost Blue creamy treat is offered in four amazing flavors and is rich in antioxidants with low allergen risks. This family based business manufactures it’s product in Wapato, in the heart of their blueberry farm. Jeff and Terri Weijohn are 4th generation farmers and partnered with family members Jerrod and Jennifer Gable to help run the new enterprise. Sorbatto can be found in select stores with plans to take it global in the next year.
Wycked Hitch took third place in the contest and won $2,500. Wycked Hitch manufactures a hitch system for the popular Polaris Slingshot. This specialized hitch is highly sought after by Slingshot owners and dealers alike. This company holds the patent for this revolutionary trailer hitch system and is the only manufacturer that is addressing the need for a custom hitch in this market. Owner Rich Arlt recruited his entire family to support their venture. Each family member addresses a different area of the business including design, fabricating, welding, shipping, marketing, and sales.
The other five final contestants also excelled in the Enterprise Challenge. According to Yakima County Development’s Jean Brown, “This is the most committed group of finalists we have ever had – all of them have started their business and have enormous growth potential. Everyone is a winner in our contest. The hardest part is not having prize money for everyone.”
Charlie Tierney, Owner of Whipsaw Brewing, says “The Enterprise Challenge gave us the opportunity to look at where we are as a business and where we want to be. It helped reaffirm that we are making the right decisions and allowed us to set new goals for the upcoming year. We are so excited about our future. The prize funds will be dedicated to growing our 3-barrel operation to a 7-barrel operation while we upgrade our systems. Doing this will allow us to supply the growing demand of our taproom guests and distribution promises.”
The Enterprise Challenge business plan contest started in January with 24 contestants. Several educational workshops and events including a trade show were offered so contestants could learn more about managing all the aspects of a business. Through this process and with the input of over thirty judges, the contestants were narrowed down to select the top three.