PHOENIX, Jan. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Vertical Harvest Hydroponics of Alaska is the American Farm Bureau Federation's Entrepreneur of the Year. Team leads Linda Janes and Dan Perpich won AFBF's Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge by beating three other teams from across the nation.
Janes and Perpich took home a total of $30,000, including $15,000 from sponsor Farm Bureau Bank, to produce hydroponic vegetables housed in 40' insulated shipping containers.
Levrack of Nebraska won the People's Choice award and an additional $10,000. Levrack produces efficient storage systems for farm shops. Ryan Stauffer, Austin Stauffer and Peter Miller were team leads for Levrack.
Windcall Manufacturing of Nebraska and Grow Bioplastics of Tennessee were the other two finalists. The four finalists each received $15,000 in October for advancing in the competition.
"Innovation and entrepreneurship have always been essential ingredients in the success of America's farmers and ranchers," said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. "From the adoption of new business models and the development of new tools and services, to unique adaptations of technology in agriculture, our industry is driven by people with vision who are willing to step forward with fresh ideas."
"As a provider of financial services to rural America, Farm Bureau Bank understands the economic potential of rural communities," said William Hileman, president and CEO. "We are proud to help sponsor the Farm Bureau Challenge. This competition is a great way to highlight the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of rural America."
The challenge provides opportunities to showcase businesses being developed in rural America and has a focus on food and agriculture. The top teams were selected by 40 judges with expertise in business, finance and entrepreneurship.
Six other semi-finalists in the competition were awarded $10,000 each in October, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Farm Credit Council.
"Entrepreneurs – whether on the farm or in the community – are the lifeblood of the rural economy," said Todd Van Hoose, CEO, Farm Credit Council. "That's why we're excited to partner again with the Farm Bureau for the third annual Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. This competition recognizes and awards the best and brightest start-ups focused on supporting rural communities and agriculture. We look forward to following the progress of these talented individuals and wish them the best."