America’s SBDC Iowa has announced Melissa Fabian and Dustin Rhoades as the winners of its 2024 special entrepreneur awards.
Fabian, owner of Simply Nourished Market & Mercantile in Mason City, is the winner of the 2024 Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award. Simply Nourished offers organic, specialty and local food products as well as catering services and cooking classes.
Fabian was nominated for her dedication to sourcing products from local businesses to build “community morale and support.”
“She is constantly showing her thoughtfulness and admiration for her community. Melissa is the pinnacle of what it means to be a small business in Iowa,” said Brook Boehmler, regional director of the North Iowa Area SBDC in Mason City, who nominated Fabian.
The Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors an Iowa woman entrepreneur who has significantly changed or improved her life and the lives of others. The award is presented in memory of Deb Dalziel, a small business advocate and director of the Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Community College from 1987 until her death from cancer in 1999.
Rhoades, owner of Sioux City-based Ability Tech, has been named the 2024 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year. Ability Tech creates custom adaptive technology for individuals with disabilities, including assistive products and digital solutions.
Todd Rausch, regional director of the Western Iowa Tech SBDC in Sioux City, nominated Rhoades, saying he “exemplifies entrepreneurship, prioritizing quality, community investment and involvement.”
“Dustin serves as a community advocate and mentor, contributing significantly to the well-being of Sioux City while being a beacon of hope for all,” Rausch said in a statement.
The Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors an Iowa entrepreneur who has been in business a minimum of three years and has been significantly assisted by an Iowa Small Business Development Center. The award was established to honor longtime Iowa Congressman Neal Smith for his years of service to Iowa’s small businesses, and recognize the role of Iowa’s entrepreneurs in the state’s economic growth.
Fabian and Rhoades will be recognized at a ceremony on Feb. 28 at 7:30 a.m. in the Legislative Dining Room of the Iowa State Capitol.