Fuel wins $250 in local Open 4 Business Competition

The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), a Main Street Iowa organization, today announced that Fuel Art and Espresso has been awarded a $250 grant as the local winner in the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) Open 4 Business grant competition.

Four businesses total competed at the local level. Fuel’s next step is to submit a five-minute video and full application to the Main Street Iowa regional contest. Five winners of the statewide regional contests will each receive $8,000, and a chance to compete for an additional $20,000 at the statewide contest in August.

“All of the contestants were impressive this year,” said Sonia Redmond, Volunteer Chair of the CDG Open 4 Business project. “The entire judging team was impressed with all of the entries but in the end, it was Fuel’s video, live pitch and thorough application that stood out this year. We are honored to choose them to represent Mount Vernon at the Regional Level.”

According to Fuel’s application: “<If won> we will use the $8,000 for expansion of our kitchen including a new refrigerator, double oven range, a larger capacity espresso machine and a blender with the ability to make smoothies. This would include installation and labor. An expanded kitchen will allow us to double our output. We regularly notice that we are losing baked good sales simply because we cannot keep up with demand. We have also for many years identified a real demand for fruit smoothies and blended drinks, and it is not uncommon to have less than satisfied customers waiting for a simple latte because our current system cannot keep up.”

 Mount Vernon is the only community in the state that has won the Regional Open 4 Business Grant three years in a row. In 2015, Ann and Guy Booth won $8,000 to upgrade equipment for their shortbread business; in 2016, John and Amanda Rhomberg won a total of $19,000 to upgrade the One Mission fundraising website; and in 2017, Chris and Kira Moore won $8,000 to replace the aging seats in the Bijou Theater.

The Open 4 Business grant program is part of the Challenge Grant program that is funded through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature.  Since the first appropriation in 2002, approximately $6 million in state and federal funds have leveraged more than $37 million in private reinvestment.  This represents 115 projects in 43 Main Street Iowa commercial districts across the state.