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Hy-Vee OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit – Moline, IL

September 12, 2023 | News & Press Releases

Hy-Vee OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit – Moline, IL

Announcing the Top 15 Pitch Competitors

The Hy-Vee Inclusive Business Summit will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at The University Club in Moline, IL. The summit is a free, daylong professional development expo and a pitch competition. After receiving over 70 pitch applications, 15 minority- or women-owned businesses have been selected to participate in one of three pitch competition categories to showcase their products or services. A panel of judges will select one winner of the $30,000 grand prize, and one business from each category will win $5,000. Additional cash investments may be awarded. To register for the expo visit:

Speaker at OpportUNITY Summit

The following businesses have been selected to present during the pitch competition:

Business: Desserts By Design

Owner: Melissa Childs

Location: Ottumwa, IA

Desserts By Design is a state-licensed home bakery specializing in desserts that enable people with food allergies to fully participate in celebrations, gatherings or even just the simple pleasure of having a sweet treat while shopping at the local farmer's market with friends.

Business: Bao Destination, LLC

Owner: Vivian Doctora

Location: Bloomington, IL

Vivian created Bao Destination to share one of her favorite childhood memories with her community — making bao.

Business: DogGurt, LLC

Owner: Amanda Colanino

Location: Bellevue, NE

DogGurt is an all-natural frozen treat available in six dog-approved flavors. Made with organic ingredients, DogGurt is hand-mixed, hand-scooped and contains no added sugar or preservatives.

Business: GoPo Gourmet Popcorn

Owner: Brooke Bartlett

Location: St. Fulton, MO

GoPo Gourmet Popcorn offers small-batch popcorn in various sweet and salty flavors that will satisfy any craving. Each unique flavor is air-popped to perfection.

Business: Origami Foods, LLC

Owner: Barbara Kaptanian-Ruth

Location: Edwards, IL

Origami Foods' distinct chili crisp is unlike standard condiments, blending chilies and seasonings, bringing unparalleled flavor to each plate.

Business: Autistic & Loved, LLC

Owner: Dr. Kit Evans-Ford

Location: Davenport, IA

Autistic & Loved creates chewable jewelry and gifts affirming love for autistic children and families. The business storefront, opening in the fall of 2023, will serve as a hub for parents to connect, find support and receive resources for their children with autism.

Business: ATStudy Buddy

Owner: Allison Strickland

Location: North Liberty, IA

ATStudy Buddy is an online platform designed to help athletic training students study for the BOC exam. ATStudy Buddy is affordable, easy-to-use and accessible on all devices, meeting the needs of Gen Z students.

Business: Sensiil Studios

Owner: Basi White

Location: Des Moines, IA

Sensiil Studios, Iowa's first black comic book company, brings black science fiction to the graphic novel industry.

Business: Saltwater Solutions, LLC

Owner: Vontrice Jones

Location: Geneseo, IL

Saltwater Solutions is an innovative saltwater equipment company and the creator of the patent-pending fish feeder called the Nori Nibbler. The Nori Nibbler provides a better way to feed nori seaweed sheets to saltwater fish.

Business: Green Current Solutions

Owner: Tammy Becker

Location: Moline, IL

Green Current Solutions (GCS) is a certified women-owned and managed business that creates custom, injection molded pallets using 100% recycled HDPE, using a portion of Ocean Bound Plastics collected at Living Lands & Waters’ river cleanups.

Business: Bloom

Owner: Joslyn Hawkins

Location: Deep River, IA

A food truck like any other, Bloom services rural Iowa communities by providing access to fresh and nutritious snacks and treats. It aims to increase education about whole foods and wellness that "blooms from within."

Business: Love Always, Abby

Owner: Abby Schlueter

Location: Quincy, IL

Love Always, Abby is an e-commerce store that handcrafts and ships preserved rose arrangements across the U.S. With little care, the genuine, carefully preserved roses last a year or more.

Business: Golden Bridges Inc.

Owner: Suzanne Ellerbrock

Location: Quincy, IL

As senior and specialty move managers, Golden Bridges' mission is to provide solutions for seniors in times of transition. Golden Bridges helps seniors navigate life by assisting them with downsizing, organizing, relocating or aging in place.

Business: The Joy of Curls, LLC

Owner: Joy Hankins

Location: Des Moines, IA

The Joy of Curls is a plant-based textured hair company that uses the finest ingredients in nature to nourish hair and skin. Due to the clean ingredients, The Joy of Curls products are multi-use and enjoyed by kids and caregivers, simplifying grooming routines for the whole family.

Business: Quad Cities Music Therapy

Owner: Misty M. Dais

Location: Moline, IL

Quad City Music Therapy believes everyone should have access to meaningful and beneficial experiences with music. It offers music therapy services and adaptive music lessons to children and adults with special needs.