Debbie and Charlie Tierney, owners of Whipsaw Brewing in Ellensburg, seen here when the brewery openend in 2016, were previous winners of the Enterprise Challenge. The contest is entering it ninth year.

Registrations are now open for the ninth annual Enterprise Challenge sponsored by the Yakima County Development Association and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce, according to a news release from contest organizers.

To date, the contest has helped launch over 85 successful start-ups throughout Yakima and Kittitas Counties. These businesses employ early 300 people with annual gross wages over $6 million.

“The talent and enthusiasm of the contestants is truly impressive each year. The Enterprise Challenge is a great benefit to our communities by helping small businesses be successful, and we’re happy to be a part of that effort,” said Bruce Lyman with Heritage Bank. “We have been a sponsor since the beginning and believe entrepreneurs get the support they need from the contest.”

The business plan contest is designed to offer support by offering training, mentorship and resources that provide participants with business planning, analysis and strategies for their business.


The Yakima County Development Association and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce officials said they want to make the contest a great learning experience for all the participants.

“We make every effort to offer participants the tools and support it takes to get a business started,” said Yakima County Development Association’s Business Development Director Jean Brown. “We know that it can be daunting to write a business plan so we have added an online business plan writing tool, more workshops, and provide more one-on-one coaching sessions with local experts. Our community really steps up to offer resources that these startups need and value.”

Starting in January contestants will take classes on marketing, finance, planning, and business essentials like insurance, law and leasing that help them craft a business plan. A group of judges will then review each submitted plan and narrow down the field.

By February, a group of eight finalists will be announced and these entrepreneurs will compete for $17,500 to build their business. An awards ceremony will be held March 28 where the winner will receive $10,000. Second and third place finishers get $5,000 and $2,500 respectively.

Yakima County Development Association created the contest to identify and support promising local entrepreneurs. The association also organized the contest to celebrate small business and help focus the region on entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy.

“We are thrilled to offer entrepreneurs skills for a successful launch and with the results that have come out of the Enterprise Challenge,” Brown said. “Over 185 entrepreneurs have participated in the contest which impacts our entire region.”


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