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Hy-Vee Awards OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Winners

Hy-vee storefront

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

During the pitch competition component of the event, 15 companies from across the Midwest presented to a panel of judges and more than 150 event attendees. The competition included judges Paul Wahlberg, executive chef and co-owner of Wahlburgers and Almo Nove; 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 business leader was able to demonstrate their product or explain their service for the chance to win a small-business grant from Hy-Vee. Food and beverage winners included:

Grand Prize Winner: Soul Grain of Saint Paul, Minnesota

The business won $30,000. Soul Grain Granola is a small batch maker of gluten-free granola in Sweet Potato Casserole, Banana Pudding, Coco Mango, Spiced Paradise, and Neutral Nelly flavors.

First Place Food and Beverage Winner Salas Salsas of Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The business won $5,000. The first-generation immigrant women-owned salsa maker is committed to communicating cultural heritage through food, said Hy-Vee. The salsas come in Salsa Roja, Salsa Verde, Jalapeño Lime, Sala’s Queso, and Salsa Macha varieties.

The retailer also awarded companies in non-food categories. Des Moines, Iowa-based Sensiil Studios won first place in the Innovation and Technology category for its black comic book publishing house, receiving 5,000. Kansas City, Missouri-based Healthy Hip Hop won first place in the Health, Wellness, and Beauty category for its streaming platform, receiving $5,000.

Smaller cash prizes were awarded to Chicago-based beauty brand Lamik and Jefferson, South Dakota-based Jefferson Beer Supply.

The summit also featured an expo that offered resources for small businesses, learning opportunities through presentations and panel discussions, and the chance to learn about local brands.