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Main Street Iowa Hosts Open 4 Business State Contest

For more information, contact:
Tina Hoffman, 515.725.3150

Main Street Iowa Hosts Open 4 Business State Contest
Five Businesses Compete for State Honor

August 3, 2017 (Sioux City) – The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) hosted the Main Street Iowa Open 4 Business State Contest on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 in Sioux City. The event, held in conjunction with the Iowa Downtown Conference, showcased five businesses from across the state of Iowa.  Over 35 businesses entered the competition earlier this year for a chance to advance to the state competition. 

Debi Durham, IEDA director, served as the emcee for the event as businesses made their pitch in front of a panel of judges for a chance to win $20,000 to execute their business plans. The five contestants included Eric Lee and Brandy Swartz of The Som in Burlington, Joan and Grant Fairchild of Gravy Home Goods in Jewell, Chris Moore of The Bijou Theater in Mount Vernon, Ross Clark and Todd Waite of Roux’s Kitchen in Woodbine, and the Brown Family from Brown’s Century Theater in Le Mars.  Each semi-finalist winner was awarded $8,000 and a year of business coaching services from the business specialists with the Downtown Resource Center at IEDA.

Each business submitted an application and a video outlining their business plan and had 15 minutes to pitch their business idea to the panel of judges before a live audience. Judges for the event included Nancy Dunkel, former State Representative and Main Street Advisory Board member; Rand Fisher, Iowa Area Development Group; Sandy Ehrig, Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation; Vada Grantham, Director of Entrepreneurship at DMACC; and Lisa Shimkat, State Director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center. 

On Tuesday night, the final awards were presented. Roux’s Kitchen in Woodbine took first place, followed by Brown’s Century Theatre in Le Mars taking second place and Gravy Home Goods in Jewel taking third place.

2017 Iowa Open 4 Business Winners
First place: Roux’s Kitchen, Woodbine
Second place: Brown’s Century Theatre, Le Mars
Third place: Gravy Home Goods, Jewel

This is the third year of the Open 4 Business contest which is open to businesses located in the 52 Main Street Iowa districts across the state. The grants are administered through IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa programs. The funding will assist with business expansion projects for each of the businesses.

“This program enables entrepreneurs in downtown districts to think big about their business expansion opportunities,” explained Michael Wagler, the state coordinator for the Main Street Iowa program.  “The innovation and leadership these businesses demonstrate reinforce each local Main Street’s efforts to promote a game-changing mentality to support their downtown commercial districts.”

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

For photos of the local businesses who competed, please contact the local Main Street office.

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