"We’ve had 185 businesses go through the competition and we have 85 in business today," said Jean Brown with the Yakima County Development Association.
Though not every business in the challenge has lasted, Brown says the Enterprise Challenge has really churned out some very successful ones.
"Last year, we had not only the companies that won, which all three are in business, but 10-15 that didn’t win, went on to start businesses, successfully in Yakima County," she said.
The Enterprise Challenge is a contest for small businesses, where they learn everything from marketing, to creating a successful business plan, through workshops, over the course of three months.
Instar Naturals took home the $10,000 first prize back in March, with what they say is a one-of-a-kind paste that naturally attracts honey bees and other pollinators to help crops bloom.
Chris Nobbs, the Chief Technology Officer, says this contest helped them bring their product and business to life.
"It really helped us organize our thoughts, get a good business plan down, and have a strategy. And so I would just say if you could use any help at all, it’ll help you in some piece of your business," said Nobbs.
He and his business partner Shawn Hazen are hoping to have their bee paste for home gardeners called Pollinate Plus out in local home and garden stores and on Amazon by Spring 2019.
And for the commercial side, they have Pollinate Pro, which they say will not only change Yakima’s agriculture industry, but go even further.
"I’d like to see this taken to other countries and see if we can help third-world developing countries as well, but I think on a local scale as well, I think that we’re gonna be able to bring in jobs and manufacturing here eventually, too, so that’s our hope and our dream," said Nobbs.
The Yakima County Development Association says businesses like Instar Naturals are what keeps the valley’s economy thriving.
"Small businesses are the ones that employ most of the employees here in the county, and it helps contribute back and give back to the community and economic development," said Sarah Truglio.