Open 4 Business 2nd runner up awarded to RJs
Coffee shop in Main Street West Union wins state-wide Open 4 Business contest
For more information, contact:
Jacque Matsen, Iowa Economic Development Authority
Aug. 28, 2019 (DUBUQUE) – Euphoria Coffee, located in West Union, bested four other strong competitors in a pitch contest held last night in conjunction with the Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque. Five businesses from Main Street Iowa communities across the state competed in the final round of the Open 4 Business contest, which started with a field of 22 applicants in May.
“I’m always wowed by our competitors. It takes guts to stand in front of a panel of judges and share your dreams for your businesses,” said Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Finance Authority and emcee of last night’s event. “They each have a unique story, but they all share a passion for their Main Streets and a commitment to using their business to make their communities better.”
Euphoria Coffee owners Nick and Jacey Yost will receive a $20,000 grant, which they plan to use to purchase additional roasting equipment and create an outdoor gathering space at their new Main Street location. Runner up, Blooming Acres, located in Mount Vernon, will receive a $10,000 grant. Owner Becka Owen plans to expand her space and materials for hosting crafting classes. Third-place winners, Andrew and Misty Johnson with RJ’s Plumbing & Heating in Corning, will receive a $5,000 grant to support purchase of new equipment and software.
“Euphoria’s owners have created a welcoming place for customers, but they’re also giving back to their community and supporting other small businesses by sourcing their ingredients locally,” said Durham regarding what stood out about the evening’s winners. “Blooming Acres is leveraging the makers movement to bring new business to Mt. Vernon and RJ’s Plumbing & Heating is continuing a family business while supporting an apprenticeship program to train the next generation.”
Luxurious Hair Care in Dubuque, owned by Shamika Ranier, and Mayberry’s Coffee House & Eatery in Osceola, owned by Molly Crawford, rounded out the five semi-finalists making their pitch last night. All semi-finalists received $8,000 in support of their business plans and for standing out among the significant field of Open 4 Business applicants.
Judges for the event included Rand Fisher, Iowa Area Development Group, Vada Grantham, Director of Entrepreneurship at DMACC, Sandy Ehrig, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Lisa Shimkat, State Director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center.
“Main Street Open 4 Business enables entrepreneurs in downtown districts to take an in depth look at their current business operations and think big about business expansion opportunities,” said Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator. “The innovation, hard work and leadership these businesses demonstrate reinforces each local Main Street’s efforts to enhance their local commercial districts.”
This is the fifth year of the Open 4 Business contest. Businesses located in the 54 Main Street Iowa districts across the state are eligible to apply for the grants, which are administered through IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs.
Since its inception, the Main Street Iowa program has generated nearly $2 billion in private investment, more than 3 million volunteer hours, nearly 5,000 new businesses and more than 15,000 jobs. Main Street Iowa is one of 40 programs in the Main Street America network and is often held up as an example of how to successfully leverage the “Main Street Approach” to revitalize downtowns and inspire economic growth.
For more information about the Main Street Iowa Open 4 Business Grant program, contact Robin Bostrom, Business Specialist, Main Street Iowa, at 515.348.6176 or robin.bostrom@iowaEDA.com. For photos of the local businesses who competed, please contact the local Main Street office.