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Smith Announces Winners of Inaugural Young Entrepreneur Awards

July 31, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced the winners of the inaugural Third District Young Entrepreneur Awards. The award was created to celebrate the efforts of young and rising leaders who strengthen their communities with their entrepreneurial spirit.

The winners will be recognized by Rep. Smith before the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m proud to announce the winners of the inaugural “Young Entrepreneur Awards.”  I appreciated the opportunity to review the numerous submissions from every region of Nebraska’s Third District.  Each nomination was a great example of young and rising leaders working to strengthen their community with their entrepreneurial spirit. Rep. Smith said. To all Nebraskans who work tirelessly to grow our economy, I will continue to support your efforts and pursue policies to get the federal government out of the way and empower your success.”

Inaugural Winners

Papa Moon Vineyards, Scottsbluff: What began in 2007 as a grape growing hobby for the Massey family has since evolved into an absolute passion for grape cultivation and craft-wine production. Over the next several years, their passion evolved into a significant family commitment. Named for the moniker the youngest Massey family member gave his grandfather, winery owner Jim, it has truly become a family project. The Masseys opened their tasting room in 2018 to share their passion for viticulture and love of winemaking. They are a proud family-owned farm winery, with a focus on the cultivation and production of high quality product. 

Upstream Farms, Albion: Brothers Matthew and Joseph Brugger work every day to bring new meaning to the phrase “Farm to Table.”  The Bruggers co-founded Upstream with the goal of establishing better rural communities.  They saw few opportunities for young people to become involved in agriculture, and wanted to create a business that would inspire young agriculturalists and entrepreneurs to pursue their passion in a rural community.  To demonstrate their desire to embrace their vision, Upstream is more than just a traditional farm.  Upstream strives to demonstrate diversification through action, offering services in agronomy, technical innovation, resale of market ready produce, and angus products. 

Striv Inc., Henderson: Striv’s founder Taylor Siebert discovered his passion for sharing stories when he started the Heartland Beat, an online blog and newsletter, to reach out to alumni of Heartland Community School.  This experience inspired Taylor to explore other avenues for schools and their alumni to create and share content.  This discovery process led to the founding of Striv Inc. in 2012.  Today, Striv Inc. has taught hundreds of students the necessary skills to provide high quality streaming access and coverage of school events and activities for their schools and communities.  The business currently provides educational and streaming services to over 100 school districts in Nebraska.  Ever the innovator, Siebert has never stopped creating.  The purpose of his latest development, “Class Intercom,” is to help school districts more effectively utilize social media to maximize connection, promotion, and information sharing in their communities.  Taylor could have created his internet-driven business in any state in the country.  He chose to come back to Nebraska, back to his hometown, and invest his talents in training tomorrow’s leaders and creating a better version of the, “The Good Life.”

The Medina Street Vault Coffeehouse & Bistro, Cairo: Through the experiences of her high school job as barista, owner Jenna Schweitzer realized her life’s passion was coffee. She knew she wanted to open her own coffee shop, and to attempt to share her passion with her hometown.  In 2017, thanks to Jenna’s vision, hard work, and the support of her family she opened her coffee shop and bistro in a former bank building in Cairo, and strategically selected her food and drink menu to ensure she complemented, and supported other local businesses. Schweitzer feels The Vault has become an experience area residents turn to when they want a place to meet their friends, relax, and lose two or three hours in conversation.  Her goal of creating a family-centered environment to share her passion with others has become a reality.

Game On, McCook: For owner Cody Dame, a 2007 submission to the Hormel Business Plan Competition permanently changed his professional direction. Winning the business plan competition allowed him to transition from owning his own traveling videography and disc jockey service to pursuing his passion of building a community through creating a fun and experiential gaming environment for all ages.  Quickly growing from a 1,000 square foot retail space to a much larger location in the community of McCook, Cody has expanded into the communities of North Platte, Kearney, and Grand Island as well.  Game On has become a successful regional retail business, committed to strengthening the communities in which they are present.