Blooming Acres, located in Uptown Mount Vernon, won runner-up in a pitch contest held in conjunction with the Iowa Downtown Conference in Dubuque in late August
Five businesses from Main Street Iowa communities competed in the final round of the Open 4 Business contest, which started with a field of 22 applicants in May. Blooming Acres also won a Regional Award of $8,000 qualifying them for the state contest and making their total winnings $18,000.
“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 business,” 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 from West Union won the contest and 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 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.
“Blooming Acres is leveraging the makers’ movement to bring new business to Mount Vernon and RJ’s Plumbing & Heating is continuing a family business while supporting an apprenticeship program to train the next generation,” said Durham regarding what stood out about the evening’s winners.
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. 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.
This is the fifth year of the Open 4 Business contest and Mount Vernon remains the only community to have competed at the state level all five years. 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 three 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For photos of the local businesses who competed, please contact the local Main Street office.