Winneshiek County Development’s Biz Booster Challenge and Ag-Mini Grant programs were a great success this year awarding small businesses approximately $17,000 in grant funds. A variety of projects were supported by the programs including a wood-fire pizza establishment at a local farm, the purchase of over 60 pear trees for a new local brewery and additional Pilates equipment for an established Pilates studio.Awarded businesses were Discover Happy Pilates Studio of Decorah, Northeast Iowa Architectural Salvage and Skrap Work of Ridgeway, Highlandville Honey, River Root Farm of Decorah, PIVO Brewery of Calmar and Luna Valley Farm of Decorah.
The application consisted of questions similar to a business plan. “The application process helps new businesses define their goals and project their potential expenditures/gains. The process also challenges existing businesses to revisit their original plan and redefine goals that best suit their market and current business structure.” Says Stephanie Fromm, Executive Director for Winneshiek County Development (WCDI).
“WCDI believes it is essential for a business to have a quality business plan to succeed, so it is our intent help provide these exciting opportunities for businesses and ag producers throughout Winneshiek County.”
In deciding which businesses were funded, a judging panel considers questions such as how feasible the business may be; what risks are associated with this business; and how this business will bring additional dollars into Winneshiek County. “We had more than $118,000 in requested funds from projects happening all over the county. It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone interested.”
Discover Happy Pilates Studio ($1700) is expanding two existing pieces of equipment that are necessary to the Pilates Method for strengthening and rehabilitation of clients of all body types and abilities. The awarded funds will allow the purchase and installation of vertical towers and stationary mats.
Highlandville Honey ($3440) currently manages 115 beehives but would like to expand its operation to 250 hives, as well as manage and perform all honey processing on-site at the facility in Decorah within three years. To achieve this goal, the facility needed additional equipment at its local facility such as beehive boxes and processing equipment.
River Root Farm ($2500) plans to increase the plant sales portion of their business. While currently selling plants and seedlings at local establishments, River Root Farm needed a germination chamber to increase their production and keep up with demand. River Root Farm is also nearing completion in construction of a 2,880sq. ft. heated greenhouse, doubling their current greenhouse space.
PIVO Brewery ($3000) officially broke ground this spring in the Calmar Industrial Park. The fully operational brewery will have a 465- gallon brew house and enough initial fermenter capability to produce 33,480 gallons of beer or cider annually. Beer and cider will be packaged in kegs and distributed to local bars and restaurants. A tap room with a 150-person capacity will be attached to the brewery and have a selection of 20+ beers and ciders, including beers from other Iowa breweries. The brewery has a strong focus in locally produced ingredients and strives to give their customers a unique product including apple and pear hard ciders, which are both gluten-free alternatives.
Luna Valley Farm ($4000) is an organic farm located in Decorah. They rotationally graze cattle and sheep, grow organic crops. Maren and Tom Beard are excited to start inviting the community to their farm for wood-fired pizza on Friday nights. Ingredients for the pizza will be grown on the farm. This new enterprise will both add value to products they raise on their farm while providing a space for the community and visitors to gather.