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Area residents are finalists in IDEA Competition

Bemidji area residents Christopher Hoffman, Jeff Sullivan and Jason LaValley have been named IDEA Competition finalists in this year's contest for breakthrough business ideas.

Hoffman, Sullivan and LaValley will make their final presentations to a panel of judges May 10 in Crookston. The winners of the competition will be announced May 17 at the IDEA Competition Awards Banquet from 5-8:30 p.m. in Bede Ballroom at the University of Minnesota- Crookston.

The field of competitors started at 23 and was then narrowed to 17 entrants who were asked to provide more detailed business plans. Nine finalists were selected from this group. As many as five winners will receive $10,000 each to advance their breakthrough ideas.

The main goal of the IDEA Competition is to assist promising local entrepreneurs in the commercialization of innovative products, processes and deliveries by connecting them to the best resources available, along with access to the capital it takes to launch a successful venture.

The awards banquet is open to the public. Registration is required in advance. Visit for registration information. For details, call project manager Michelle Landsverk at 218-435-2834.

IDEA sponsors are Bremer Bank of Crookston and Warren, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, 360? Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, University of Minnesota-Crookston, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation and Northwest Regional Small Business Development Center.

Partners include Ingenuity Frontier, Bemidji State University, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Enterprise Minnesota, Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Innovate ND, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Northland Community and Technical College.

IDEA was made possible through a grant from the Blandin Foundation.