NASHVILLE, TN – Hawk Knob Cider and Mead of Lewisburg, WV won the People’s Choice Award in the American Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.
The award was presented Monday, January 8th at the 99th Annual Convention of the American Farm Bureau in Nashville, TN.
The final four teams, including Hawk Knob, competed for the award by pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges before a live audience. They were chosen from 471 applicants and each received $15,000 in October from Farm Credit and advanced in the competition.
SwineTech, from Iowa, won the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.
Hawk Knob took 48% of the vote in People’s Choice competition, winning an additional $10,000 in prize money.
“We are proud to have been able to represent West Virginia on the national stage, and show that we have a lot to offer here,” said Josh Bennett, team lead and co-owner of Hawk Knob. “If we can just keep supporting family and rural agriculture ventures in West Virginia, we have endless potential.”
“We couldn’t be prouder of these West Virginia entrepreneurs,” said Charles Wilfong, West Virginia Farm Bureau president. “they exemplify the best in innovation and ingenuity in rural America.”
The challenge, now in its fourth year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. The top challenge teams were selected by judges with expertise in business development, equity investment funding management, agribusiness lending and entrepreneurial coaching.