The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
We recently checked back in with the entrepreneurs who won cash prizes during our 2010 and 2011 business plan contests and were pleased to hear that they are growing and generally doing well. Tieton Farms and Creamery, who won the 2010 contest, is overwhelmed with demand for their gourmet cheeses. Owner Lori Babcock said they are selling their cheese faster than they can make it, which she says is a fabulous problem to have. Tieton Farms has added several new cheese varieties over the last year. They also sell limited quantities of eggs and meat that come from operating a sustainable farm.
Cascade Animal Care has also relocated to a larger facility at 1504 South 36th Avenue near the Yakima airport. Owner Bruce Noyes says his business is growing steadily he has added five more employees since winning 3rd place in our 2010 contest. Bruce says he is doing a lot more wholesale business and is pleased that his retail customers are optimistic about their sales and the general economy. Noyes has also added more product offerings.
2011 contest winner Washington Vision Therapy is thriving. Dr. Ben Winters explained that his customer base has grown by over fifty percent since last fall. He is trying to carve out more time for his business while not becoming a foreigner to his family and friends. Winters is very optimistic about the future and has longer term plans to open more vision therapy clinics.
Hop Central Brewing and Milt's Original Gourmet BBQ Pellets also won prizes in our 2011 contest. Karl and Carol Vanevenhoven are still moving forward with their plans for a commercial brewery. They are moving forward according to their award winning plan and hope to be open for business later this year. Milt Geffen moved into his Grandview production facility prior to the start of our contest last fall. He is getting lots of interest in his product and concurrently working to secure funding that can help him grow and sustain his business.
We know quite a few of our Enterprise Challenge contestants from the first two years are also doing well. We are pleased that the Enterprise Challenge is geared towards helping everyone involved as opposed to just our cash prize winners. Providing entrepreneurs and small business owners the educational seminars, the coaching, and our judge's feedback helps ensure they get the support they need as they launch new ventures here in the Yakima Valley. To learn more about the Enterprise Challenge, click here (and we will have 2012 contest information up soon!).