Jacob Cluff‘s plan is to provide low cost emergency housing for countries around the world like Haiti that have been devastated by national disasters.

Dustin Pederson will introduce the online gaming community to an exciting new virtual world within the next three months.

These entrepreneurs were two of six economic development jewels discovered in Kanab during Kane County’s “Idea to Industry” competition. Both will receive a $5,000 cash prize from the county’s Center for Education, Business and the Arts (CEBA).

The “Idea to Industry” competition is just one strategy to help develop entrepreneurs in Kane County and along the Colorado Strip. “We looked at entrepreneur competitions around the state and realized they didn’t meet the needs of a rural county like ours,” explains Kane County Commissioner and CEBA Chairman Dan Hulet. “While other competitions focus on identifying new technologies and introducing them to potential investors, our goal is to find ideas that could provide family-sustaining jobs that will still be here in 10 years.” Hulet acknowledges many of the “Idea to Industry” winners will be technology-based and hopes they will go on to compete in statewide competitions.

Key to CEBA’s effort to grow their own entrepreneurs locally are strategic partnerships with resources both within and outside Kane County. They are currently working with Dixie State College’s Small Business Development Center to develop an online entrepreneur education tool called BizSmart. CEBA is also partnering with Southern Utah University and the Kanab Chamber of Commerce in a monthly entrepreneur forum.

“Idea to Industry” competitors were judged by 15 reviewers from both within and outside the community. The contest winners were judged on the quality of their idea, strength of their management team, marketing plan, their understanding of finance-related issues, and their proposed use of funds should they win. Bonus points were awarded if the idea related to one of CEBA’s target industries, which include physical and life science, animal science, digital media, arts and culture and natural resource-based technology.

In addition to Cluff and Pederson, other finalists included Laurali Noteman (online arts marketplace), Bob Kaczowka (furniture design and production), Jan Judd (Western themed food and entertainment in Fredonia) and Nathan Riddle (local production center for documentaries and video). These individuals received $1,000 each to support their idea.

Another aspect of the competition was a youth entrepreneur component. Ian Hiscock from Kanab High School received $1,000 to help develop his multi-media business, and Riley Davidson from Valley High School was awarded $1,000 to establish a bike shop in Orderville.

Sponsors of the “Idea to Industry” competition were Kane County, Kanab City, Dixie State College’s Small Business Development Center, Kanab Chamber of Commerce, Southern Utah University’s Business Resource Center, Mountain America Credit Union and the Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED). Les Prall, GOED’s Rural Director notes, “No one in rural Utah is doing what Kane County is doing to grow local entrepreneurs. We are honored to have been able to support this outstanding grassroots effort.”

For more information, contact Ed Meyer at (435) 644-5439 or ed@kanabchamber.com.