A handful of Creston business owners are dreaming big this month.
Upper Crust Culinary Creations, She-Nae’s Rescued and Renewed and Leslie’s Dance Emporium (Defy Gravity) — all of Creston — are participating in the Dream Big Grow Here grant contest for south-central Iowa.
Voting began Monday.
In this contest, the top five vote-getters at the end of the voting period (Oct. 21) in the south-central Iowa competition will be invited to compete in a pitchoff event — slated Nov. 12 at Lakeside Casino — for a chance at winning $5,000 toward their dream.
The winner of the regional contest will then advance to a state competition slated for spring 2014 where winners will have a chance to win an additional $10,000.
“This is the second year for the competition,” said Wayne Pantini, Union County Development Association (UCDA) executive director. “We are excited to offer this opportunity for businesses in Union County to exploit their business ideas. This competition allows them to earn cash, as well as gain exposure for their business.”
The south-central Iowa grant contest includes Decatur, Clarke, Lucas, Ringgold, Union and Wayne counties. There are a total of 11 small south-central Iowa businesses competing in this year’s competition. (See current voting ranks, right)
Upper Crust — a boutique bakery located in uptown Creston — currently ranks third overall with 174 votes. Upper Crust’s “dream” is to expand their business plan to offer frozen meals and desserts to go.
The grant money would be used to replace a 1960s-style freezer — that currently has the door held closed with a ratchet strap — with two larger more energy-efficient freezers.
“We feel there is a need to provide healthier dinner options in today’s fast-paced economy,” said Christy Whited, co-owner of Upper Crust. “Our frozen meals to-go offer a quick, easy and healthier alternative — perfect for the time-starved family. Our made from scratch, wholesome dinners can be baking while you are reviewing homework, preparing for the following day or balancing the checkbook.”
Also, Upper Crust would like to purchase a refrigerated display case that’s more suited to their needs compared to the generic jewelry display case currently being used.
She-Nae’s Rescued and Renewed — 311 W. Montgomery St. in uptown Creston — currently ranks fifth overall with 98 votes.
She-Nae’s is a home decor and garden store — owned by Sheila O’Riley and Rene Foster — that rescues pieces from the trash or landfill and gives them new purpose (re-purpose) or updated finish (up-cycle).
She-Nae’s owners create their own pieces, and provide a marketplace for 30 consigners ranging from teenagers to 90-year-olds.
“Our dream is to be south-central Iowa’s premier provider of re-purposed and up-cycled pieces bringing more people to uptown Creston,” O’Riley said. “Just as we try to create our pieces with junk we have on hand, we are struggling to grow our business with cash on hand.”
With the grant money, She-Nae’s would like to extend its marketing area by advertising to cities near Creston. Also, the business is currently located in an industrial building that is not climate controlled.
“We need heat in order to stay open during the winter and capture holiday shopping season,” O’Riley said.
She-Nae’s could also use additional storage and a trailer outfitted with storage and tie-downs so vintage pieces can travel more safely.
Leslie’s Dance Emporium
Leslie’s Dance Emporium — 218 N. Pine St. in uptown Creston — currently ranks 10th overall with 20 votes. The dance studio is currently celebrating its 35th season of providing professional education in all areas of dance and tumbling for students in south-central Iowa.
With the grant, Leslie’s Dance Emporium would be able to purchase new equipment like a Tumble Trak and Rod Floor that would give students a better experience and education.
Also in the CNA coverage area — there are two businesses in Mount Ayr and one dreamer in Afton in the Dream Big Grow Here grant competition.
In Mount Ayr, Podium Ink — a graphic design firm that does car wraps, banners, T-shirts, logo creations and more — has entered the grant competition. As well, Chris Doster of Mount Ayr — owner of a Crossfit gym called Play Posse — is participating.
In Afton, full-time nurse Laura Tallmon wants to bring a fitness center to her hometown. Tallmon and her dream to build the Afton Fitness Center currently ranks first in the competition with 380 votes.
Voting did begin Monday, however, Pantini reminds people voting can be done once each day through Oct. 21.