Mitchell County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Announces Results


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Mitchell County, Kansas – Solomon Valley Economic Development, in association with Network Kansas E-Community Partnership, virtually hosted the first annual Mitchell County Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on March 9th, 2021. Fourteen entrepreneurs from Beloit, Tipton and St. John’s presented the business concepts with a written business plan, a 4-minute presentation to judges and a marketing display.  

The winning concepts were:

• 1st Prize $750: Alexa Boudreaux, Alexis Drake, Riles Hess and Tatem Tietjens from Beloit High School with the business Trojan Threads.

• 2nd Prize $500: Luke Germann from Tipton Catholic School with the business Tiny Home Rentals.

• 3rd Prize $250: Caleb Burks, Cooper Adams and Ryan Rinaldo from Beloit High School with the business Trojan Grounds.

• Best Non Profit $100: Avery Johnson from Beloit High School with her nonprofit Art with Avery.

• Best Product Partnership $100: Erin Schmitt, St. John’s and Carlie Brummer, Tipton with their partnership Pen to Pan.

Winning students received over $1,700 in prize money courtesy of the Solomon Valley Community Foundation.  

“This competition was a great way for students to learn all about entrepreneurship.  We were pleased with their business ideas.  We had everything from auto repair to art to a bakery, a tiny house rental and a coffee shop. The students were very creative and we are excited for the future of this competition,” said Heather Hartman, SVED Director.  

In addition to prizes and recognition, the first-place finisher has the opportunity to compete in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge at Kansas State University in Manhattan.  This event will include the top young entrepreneurs from schools across the state. 

The goal of the competition is to expose Kansas middle school and high school students to entrepreneurship and give them a hands-on experience.  The students’ work was judged by local community members.  This is the 1sttime Mitchell County has brought this competition to our community. 

For more information, contact Heather Hartman, Solomon Valley Economic Development at 785.738.3000 or

For more information about NetWork Kansas or the E-Community Partnership, visit

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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