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Hy-Vee Awards $50,000 in Grants to Three Iowa-Based Businesses

May 26, 2022 | News & Press Releases

Today, Hy-Vee, Inc. awarded $50,000 to minority- and women-owned businesses during its OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit in Hiawatha. Gnarly Pepper from Cedar Rapids was the overall winner of the pitch competition, receiving a business grant of $25,000. LuLit’s Hair Essence from Evansdale came in second and Variegate from Iowa City came in third, receiving $15,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Sara Larson is founder of Gnarly Pepper, which offers a healthy alternative to traditional dips and condiments. Rosie Daniel of LuLit’s Hair Essence provides natural solutions to hair loss and skin irritations. Variegate founder Dasia Taylor offers an innovative medical solution that provides color-changing stitches that detects infections.

The pitch competition was held in conjunction with Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at the Kirkwood Community College Linn County Regional Center. During the event, 10 minority- and women-owned businesses were selected to showcase their products or services for a panel of judges. Eligible businesses offer retail-ready solutions in one of the following categories: food and beverage, product innovation and technology, health and beauty, sustainability, and service and entertainment. In addition to the winners, the following businesses also participated in the pitch competition:

  • 5 Borough Bagels, Clive, Iowa
  • BOCS DSM, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Crazy Goat Soap, Dubuque, Iowa
  • DogCuterie Box, Clear Lake, Iowa
  • eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R., Andover, Kansas
  • Linda Tong Planners, Urbandale, Iowa
  • The Pink Umbrella Bakery, Coralville, Iowa

Local professionals and community members attended the daylong conference, which included a small-business vendor expo, small-group panel discussions and a special keynote presentation. Speakers included Taufeek Shah, founder and CEO of Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce; Maurice Davis, business strategist with Entrepreneur Edge Service and the Hon. Tiffany O’Donnell, CEO of Women Lead Change and mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  

The OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit is one of several events Hy-Vee holds that support minority- and women-owned businesses in the communities they serve. Hy-Vee remains committed to inclusivity by expanding product and service offerings that appeal to diverse lifestyles and backgrounds.


Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of more than $12 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 5 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 3 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 90,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit