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Wells quilt pitch tops rural entrepreneur awards

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Wells quilt pitch tops rural entrepreneur awards

Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority Executive Director Sheldon Mudd speaks at the third annual Launch Rural Nevada event on Nov. 4. INSET: A virtual pitch from Jolene Supp for the Main Street Quilts shop in Wells.

ELKO – Entrepreneurs from around rural Nevada came together virtually and in person on Nov. 4 to participate in the third annual Launch Rural Nevada pitch, education and networking event.

Former Wells city manager Jolene Supp won first place in the adult category for her Main Street Quilts shop. Paysen Jones of Alamo took first in the youth category for his Pay-Jay Farms lawn service.

Hosted by StartupNV and produced by the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, Launch Rural Nevada is an annual event designed for startups and small business owners in rural Nevada and provides opportunities for mentorship, access to capital, and connection with entrepreneurial support organizations within the state.

Jolene Supp wins NNRDA award for Main Street Quilts shop in Wells

The event was hosted at the Great Basin College campus in Elko but provided live venues throughout the state at GBC’s various centers in Ely, Pahrump, and Winnemucca along with a location at Western Nevada College’s campus in Carson City.

Dr. Mariluz Garcia, an Elko native and director of the University of Nevada Reno’s Dean’s Future Scholars program, kicked off the event by encouraging both youth and adult participants to embrace their “You-niqueness” and not be discouraged if they lack a solid resume or “letters behind your name.” She encouraged them to instead embrace and trust in their individual abilities as entrepreneurs.

Several discussion panels were then presented covering topics that included where to find support and resources for small business, options for funding and capital, and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” a panel comprised of last year’s pitch finalists who provided insights into their various obstacles and progression as rural Nevada entrepreneurs. The panels were then followed up by the pitch competition for both the youth and adult tracks where competitors presented their ideas from various locations around the state. During judge’s deliberation, Vanessa Vancour, Strategist and Founder of Vancourage, presented a detailed synopsis of digital marketing and social media and its role in small business development.

The youth pitch competition consisted of 8th through 12th grades and was sponsored by Nevada Gold Mines for a second year in a row. Alissa Wood, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Barrick North America, commented on the importance of including youth within the competition stating, “It goes without saying that these young adults are the future of rural Nevada. They also have great ideas and if we can foster and encourage those ideas then these kids will undoubtedly create a better quality of life for all of us in rural Nevada. You simply cannot underestimate what they are capable of. For these reasons Nevada Gold Mines has been happy to support this event.”

Wood was on hand in Elko to announce the youth track winners as follows:

1st Place: Pay-Jay Farms, Paysen Jones, Alamo, Nevada ($4,000)

2nd Place: Squish’s Pressure Washing, Tanner Huckaby, Fallon, Nevada ($2,000)

3rd Place: Beardall’s Sensations, Melanie Beardall, Wells, Nevada ($1,000)

4th Place: Ratliff Builds, Sawyer Ratliff, Elko, Nevada ($500)

The adult pitch competition was sponsored by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and included an even mix of both goods and services. GOED’s Executive Director, Michael Brown, joined virtually to announce the winners for the adult division and later commented, “The Launch Rural Nevada event is turning out to be a tremendous asset that will aid in the development of an entrepreneurial eco-system in rural Nevada. All of the competitors brought great ideas to the table and our office looks forward to seeing how they progress into the future.”

Director Brown announced the winners as follows:

1st Place: Main Street Quilts, Jolene Supp, Wells, Nevada ($4,000)

2nd Place: Wild Horse Project, Greg Sklar, Imlay, Nevada ($2,000)

3rd Place: B7 Products, Joshua Bonner, Spring Creek, Nevada ($1,000)

4th Place: Secure Exits, Melinda Mort, Fallon, Nevada ($500)

“Too many times in rural Nevada we rely on outside sources to help improve on our way of life,” Sheldon Mudd, executive director of NNRDA stated, “this needs to stop. We must develop the mindset that no one is coming to save us, we are responsible for our own diversification, our own economic vitality, and our own quality of life. It’s my hope that events like these will reaffirm our rugged individualism and instill confidence within rural Nevada’s small business environment.”

Mudd went on to explain that this year’s event yielded a noticeable increase in overall participation and over 50% more in prize money was awarded to this year’s winners.

Mudd added, “We had a phenomenal planning team this year and StartupNV, the event host, are experts at what they do. We brought back all of our sponsors from last year and added a few more – we simply could not do it without them.”

The countdown for Launch Rural Nevada 2023 has begun with liftoff scheduled for Nov. 3. Launch Rural Nevada’s official 2022 sponsors included: Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, StartupNV, Nevada Gold Mines, Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Audacity Institute, NV Energy, Nevada Small Business Development Center, Southwest Central Regional Economic Development Authority, Northern Nevada Development Authority, I-80 Gold, Regarding Sales, Southwest Gas, Mt. Wheeler Power, Great Basin College, and Western Nevada College.

“The Launch Rural Nevada event is turning out to be a tremendous asset that will aid in the development of an entrepreneurial eco-system in rural Nevada."

-- GOED Executive Director Michael Brown


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The intention is to give hosts an experience for their guests without having to worry about the setup and take down of decorations, tables and chairs after the event.

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