2014 Lee County Business Plan Competition Winner

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach of Lee County announced the winner of the 2014 Lee County Business Plan Competition at the Keokuk Chamber of Commerce RAP breakfast on Thursday in Keokuk. After a rigorous review process, Jennie Hawkins, owner of Pristine Bee Apiaries of Keokuk was selected as the winner of the $5000 award. The new business will be located in Keokuk and will provide local raw honey to the tri-state area, support the local food system, and promote the growth of the diminishing honeybee population.
Hawkins is a native of Lee County, having graduated from Keokuk High School. She has experience as a beekeeper as well as business management experience. Pristine Bee will be offering honey products for sale at farmers markets and online, as well as working with local farmers on contract pollination. Pristine Bee’s phone number is (319) 524-BEES.
"Programs such as the Business Plan Competition help entrepreneurs navigate the bumpy path to owning a business, and also provide much needed support and mentorship right here in Lee County,” said Alex Merk, marketing specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach of Lee County. “I am excited that Jennie now has the momentum to get her business off the ground and provide a much needed service to our area."
The competition was made possible through funding from USDA Rural Development and partnerships with Iowa Microloan, the Fort Madison and Keokuk Chambers of Commerce, and Southeast Iowa Small Business Development Center. If businesses or organizations are interested in supporting the program for next year, Merk encourages them to contact her at 319-835-5116.
Merk also mentioned that entrepreneurs and small businesses should begin to make plans for the 2015 competition. Information on the rules and deadlines will be posted online at www.extension.iastate.edu/lee/bizplancompetition.
The Business Plan Competition is also the launch of a new financing opportunity for small businesses in Lee County, the Lee County Microloan Program through Iowa Microloan. Financing of loans of $5000 to $50,000 for a six year term is available to small business startups or expansions in Lee County. For information on the Microloan program, or other financing options such as the Lee County Revolving Loan Fund, contact the Lee County Extension office.
ISU Extension and Outreach is part of an educational network supported by Iowa State University, local county governments, and the United States Department of Agriculture.  ISUEO works to increase learning opportunities for citizens of Iowa by providing unbiased, research-based information that will improve quality of life.
CAPTION: Alex Merk of ISU Extension and Outreach awards Jennie Hawkins, owner of Pristine Bee Apiaries as the winner of the 2014 Lee County Business Plan Competition.

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