What is the Enterprise Challenge?

The Enterprise Challenge is an annual business plan competition for new and emerging companies in Yakima and Kittitas Counties. We believe it is a great way for Yakima County Development Association and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce to celebrate small business and support promising ventures in Central Washington. More than 225 entrepreneurs have competed in the contest since its inception and many of them have gone on to start their businesses in our community.

The 2022 competition runs from January 6, 2022 through March 15, 2022. If state or federal COVID-19 restrictions necessitates limited in-person contact, organizers will update contestants on any schedule adjustments. If you are an interested participant, please keep this in mind.

What is the prize money for winning the Enterprise Challenge?


Thank you to our SPONSORS!

What is the cost to participate in the challenge?

Registration for the 2022 Enterprise Challenge is $200. Registration closes at 5:00 pm January 4, 2022. The estimated value of this competition is $2,500 in professional services.

Benefits to business owners

  • Instruction on business planning, marketing, financing, technology, and related topics
  • Individual help sessions with experts in finance, marketing, law, and other business topics
  • Feedback on plans submitted by judges who have practical business experience
  • Opportunities to network and collaborate with other great entrepreneurs
  • Significant publicity for your business through local media and other channels

The biggest benefit is that participants get the counsel and support they need to get their businesses off to a strong start. We designed the competition so that it helps all participants even if they don’t advance into the winner’s circle. By offering in-depth business workshops and individualized counseling to everyone in the contest, we are confident that our participants gain traction with their enterprise and learn what it takes to launch a successful business.

Entrepreneurs from all parts of Yakima and Kittitas Counties have boosted their businesses with the help of the Enterprise Challenge. You may recognize Junk-Bros, Whipsaw Brewing,  Taqueria La Palapa,  Pearl Street Optical, Jenny Maes Gluten Free Bakery, Claim Clothing, MAK Daddy Coffee Roasters,  Madd Hatters Haunt and Amusement, HolBen Honey, Roud Tuit Kitchen, Ag Drone Data Services, and Tieton Farm & Creamery, all businesses that entered the competition.

How the competition works

  • Contestants attend online classes and tutoring sessions that help them develop their business plans
  • Plans are submitted to judges who evaluate each enterprise*
  • Contestants with the highest scores move on through rounds of the competition
  • The competition features a pitch your business trade show and a final presentation round
  • Winners are announced at an awards ceremony or via video depending on our current local health measures

*Judges use scoring criteria to evaluate contestants on how well they have thought through and developed their enterprise’s marketing, financing, management, and operations plans. These judges provide contestants feedback on their ventures and business plans which is invaluable information for anyone launching a new business.

Again, please note that there may be schedule changes and different ways we approach each round of the competition during the 2022 Enterprise Challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have questions about the competition or want more information, please contact Yani Cisneros at 509-575-1140 or Yani@ycda.com.

Contest rules and eligibility requirements

ELIGIBILITY: The Enterprise Challenge is for individuals, teams, or start-up companies that are located in Yakima or Kittitas County. Participants must comply with the following:

  • Teams and/or businesses must be based in and have 50% of the partners located in either Yakima or Kittitas County, Washington.
  • The business must have been in operation for less than two years with gross receipts under $1 million, or it must be a new business venture.
  • A supporting business license number or status documentation must be provided at registration.
  • Franchise, Chains, Affiliations, Multi-Level Marketing, or similar business structures are not eligible.
  • Businesses must be ‘for-profit’ enterprises. Non-profits are eligible to compete in the contest but are required to produce “for-profit” financials and business strategies.
  • Business plans may be submitted by individuals or teams. Teams may have a maximum of three members. All team members must be over 18 years of age.
  • To advance to the final round of the contest, the applicant and/or team member that is identified as the owner, or team lead, is required to attend the orientation, workshops (with one excused absence), and Enterprise Trade Show.
  • Contest judges will recuse themselves if he/she has a conflict of interest (i.e. family, financial, or business relationship).
  • Judges’ decisions are final, including interpretation of the rules.
  • Previous Enterprise Challenge participants may enter the contest with a different business; however, winners from previous Enterprise Challenges are not eligible.
  • Winners will receive half their business investment following the awards ceremony and the other half upon achieving a mutually agreed upon business milestone noted in the business plan. (i.e.- official opening of business, signed lease, payment system, website, etc). An official agreement is signed by both parties prior to the investment distribution that includes the milestone that must be met during the current competition calendar year.

**In the event that the competition does not generate enough participants, Yakima County Development Association and Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce reserve the right to amend cash prize amounts or registration deadlines. Please note that the schedule could change if the pandemic leads to continued closures and restrictions. For more information about the competition, schedule, and scoring criteria, visit the Yakima County Development Association website.

2022 Schedule

*Please note schedule is subject to change.

Scoring criteria

Previous winners

2021 Winners

  • 1st Place Winner: Sunnyside Meat Packers LLC, Yakima County – Your FIRST CHOICE for cutting and curing, no long waits and no one turned away! Sunnyside Meat Packers does their own cure and smoking in-house.
  • 2nd Place Winner: Basecamp Outfitters, Kittitas County – Local source for outdoor gear that is proudly source from sustainable and ethical companies so you can feel good about getting out there.
  • 3rd Place Winner: The Tap, Yakima County – Self-pour taproom, offering 50 rotating taps of craft beer, wine, and cider.

2020 Winners:

Watch the announcement video here: YouTube

The first place $10,000 prize winner is Jacob Castillo with Junk-Bros, a junk removal business.

The second place winner for $5,000 is Wendy King with The Little Hopper, Yakima’s beer bus – a brewery hop-on hop-off tour bus.

The third place winner for $2,500 is Charles Johnson with Elite Tours, a business that offers luxury transportation for wine and beer tours.

2019 Winners:

    • 1st Place Winner – $10,000 – Taqueria La Palapa –A fresh, authentic, great tasting Mexican street food restaurant in a clean, family friendly environment. Opening soon in Union Gap across from the Valley Mall.
    • 2nd Place Winner – $5,000 – Round Tuit Kitchen – Yakima based producer of delicious baked goods that minimize blood sugar and insulin spikes, while being gluten-free, sugar-free, and natural. Available at 11 locations around the County and growing.
    • 3rd Place Winner – $2,500 – Ag Drone Data Services – Selah based technology company using drones and data analysis to improve crop yields by providing early det
      ection of crop health and field analysis services for farms, vineyards, and orchards.

These three companies will collectively create 10-15 new jobs by the end of the year – and that’s just the prize winners. There were fifteen other businesses that participated in the competition that are adding another 20+ jobs and strengthening the local economy.


2018 Winners:

Taking the top prize of $10,000 was Instar Naturals, LLC, a technology company combining nature and science to increase yield and honeybee activity in pollinated crops worldwide.Chris Nobbs of Instar Naturals, LLC said, “Instar Naturals is now prepared to do business after participating in the Enterprise Challenge!

Second place and the $5,000 prize went to Gigabeam Internet, a local provider of internet and streaming TV services in rural areas of the Yakima Valley. “I am very excited, and very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Enterprise Challenge, said Jason Telles, business owner. “Everyone that participated did a fantastic job, and I am very excited to see how all of these new businesses do in the future.

Coming in third was Natalie DeHaven Cakes. They were awarded $2,500 to grow their custom cake studio where they create unique cakes that are amazing works of art and unforgettably delicious.
“I would encourage anyone passionate about taking their business to the next level to compete in the Enterprise Challenge. For me, said Natalie DeHaven, the cash prize was just the cherry on top, because I learned so much more during the process of competing.

2017 Winners:

Winners of the 2017 Enterprise Challenge Business Plan ContestWhipsaw 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.  The 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 they 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 $2500. Wycked Hitch manufactures the 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 and is an integral part of the Wycked team.

2015 Winners:

2015 Enterprise Challenge WinnersYakima Hop Candy won New Vision’s Enterprise Challenge and will receive $10,000. Yakima Hop Candy is the proud creator of LollyHops. This boutique pop is infused with locally grown hops and comes in more than 14 natural flavors. The young company has experienced a lot of exposure since they are the only Hop infused sucker on the market. Their hop candies are sold all over the world and have become a popular addition to events by allowing customers to personalize the labels. With full time efforts from the founder Heather Hadsel they plan to venture into other hop related confections.

Pearl Street Optical placed second in the contest and will receive $5,000. Rachel Crites took her vast experience in the optical field and added her own style and flare to open the newest pharmacy for your eyes in Ellensburg. Pearl Street Optical offers prescription glasses, contacts, sunglasses, and recreation eyewear in a wide range of prices and styles. Rachel gives the boutique experience to each customer with personalized service and care.

Mama Hogues Kitchen took third place in the contest and won $2500. Sabin Hogue launched her savory meals to go business with the intent of bringing busy families back around the table to enjoy a wholesome meal. She offers customers quick healthy meal choices that are simple to order, pick up, and pop in the oven. Her love and care for her customers is evident in her business model.

2014 Winners:

2014 Enterprise Challenge WinnersClaim Clothing is a new business that started last spring in downtown Ellensburg. Claim Clothing provides young contemporary women’s clothing, denim, jewelry, accessories and handcrafted home goods to the greater Kittitas Valley. Owners Megan and Jared West manage the downtown store and both have strong backgrounds in retail marketing and merchandising.  They plan to use their $10,000 prize money to increase their online shopping experience.

Nana Kate’s placed second in the contest and will receive $5,000.  Nana Kate’s specializes in local, organic, ingredients that make for delectable meals and snacks that are healthy, made from scratch, and include gluten free and vegan options.  Owner Katherine Platt operates the company’s store in Selah but sells a lot of their products wholesale to local coffee stands and eateries.

Chestnut Market took third place in the contest and won $2500.  Chestnut Market is a startup gourmet deli and grocery store that plans to open sometime in 2015.  Entrepreneur Geoff Howell plans use his extensive experience in the restaurant and wine industries to pinpoint popular products and provide outstanding customer service to people in the Greater Yakima area.

2013 Winners:

Spring Harvest Fiber Mill won and is proud to produce yarns and fiber products made from Alpacas. The company used their prize winnings to purchase more equipment and support staffing increases.

Active Life Chiropractic placed second in the contest and received $5,000. The chiropractic business opened last year in Yakima and specializes in sports related injuries and treating children.

4 Seasons Fresh took third place in the contest and won $2500. Entrepreneurs Mathew Buchanann and Jedidiah Haney are planning to launch a greenhouse farm that can produces high quality vegetables, herbs, gourmet mushrooms, and fresh whole fish the year round.

2012 Winners:

2012 Enterprise Challenge WinnersSelah’s Smiles, a specialized dental clinic located in Selah won top prize. Dr. Tyrone Rodriguez is a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating kids, people with special needs and anxious adults.

The Drawing Board placed second. The Drawing Board will be a bistro styled gathering place located in downtown Yakima.

Yakima Coupons took third place. This enterprise will connect local businesses with consumers by providing savings through coupons and online deals.

2011 Winners:

Washington Vision Therapy Center won New Vision’s 2011 Enterprise Challenge. The Yakima-based eye clinic specializes in providing vision therapy to clients with a particular focus on helping kids. Winters and his staff help patients correct vision problems that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lens alone.

Hop Central Brewing Company placed second in the contest. The owners are planning to open a new microbrewery in downtown Yakima.

Milt’s Original Gourmet BBQ Pellets took third place. The Grandview-based company manufactures flavor enhancing barbecue pellets made from fruit wood, food processing wastes and other reclaimed ingredients.

2010 Winners:

2010 Enterprise Challenge WinnersTieton Farm & Creamery won New Vision’s 2010 Enterprise Challenge. Tieton Farm & Creamery combines responsible farming methods and artisan cheese making techniques to produce small batches of high-quality cheeses, such as fresh chevre, feta, provolone and grill-able Halloumi.

Jenny Mae’s Gluten Free Bakery placed second. Jenny Mae’s gluten free bakery is an allergen free bakery, specializing in breads, buns, cookies, pies, and more. The company started last year and has plans to expand into wholesale baked goods over the next year.

Cascade Animal Care Products took 3rd place. The company specializes in total care for animals. Products include antibiotics, vaccinations, de-wormers, special supplements and retail supplies to keep animals healthy and happy. The company plans to expand its retail and wholesale sales over the next two years.