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Three Small Businesses Win Sheridan Start-Up Challenge


A native plant nursery, a traveling physical therapy service and a sports pain relief aid manufacturer are this year's winners of the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge.

The regional entrepreneurial contest is hosted by the Sheridan area Wyoming Technology Business Center, which is an economic development program from the University of Wyoming.

The winners were selected from among five finalists, who all presented at a community pitch night in Sheridan on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Scot Rendall, director of the center in Sheridan, said the winners represent the area's desire for more small businesses.

"All three of these have the possibility of adding to our economic base and the diversification efforts we're trying to shoot for in the state. I just think there's tremendous potential with all of those," he said.

The winners are all based around Northeast Wyoming.

Lisa Durgin and Sharon Jones own MuscleShok Sport Therapy, which makes gels and bath soaks for pain relief. The business is based in Gillette.

Piney Island Native Plants owner Alisha Bretzman of Story, Wyoming looks to provide native plants for the area, especially focusing on reclamation and restoration projects around the state. Bretzman also took home an additional $1,000 audience choice award.

Marta Ostler owns Purpose Physical Therapy and is based in Dayton. Ostler wants to provide mobile physical therapy care for rural and remote residents.

Rendall said the contest winners received a $5,000 dollar prize to help their businesses.

"As they develop their plans over the next year, they'll have opportunities to reconvene with the judges. And based on budgetary needs that they have, things they would like to purchase to help move their plans forward, they will be able to appeal to the larger seed fund, the $50,000 fund that we set up," he said.

The winners will also be offered office space at the business center.

The other two finalists-WYO Candle Company owners Dwight and Meg Stanislaw and Jared Koenig, creator of a recreational sandal-will also be offered incubator space and business counseling.

Rendall added the challenge is an opportunity for people who have been thinking about starting a business to get feedback and developmental support for their ideas.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

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