Biz Booster and Ag-Mini Grant Winners Announced!

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, according to Stephanie Fromm, executive director for Winneshiek County Development (WCDI).

Local businesses who were awarded funds included Sunflower Child Development Center, Cardboard Robot, Seed Savers Exchange and OFF the Driftless Wellness and Adventure Co.

Fromm said the application consisted of questions similar to questions one would answer when putting together a business plan.

“The application process helps a business define their goals and challenges them to identify their target market to see what fits best in our area.” said Fromm.

“WCDI believes it is essential for a business to have a quality business plan to succeed, so it is our intent to 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 $140,000 in requested funds from projects happening all over the county. It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone interested.”

Sunflower Child Development Center has provided the Winneshiek County area childcare and preschool services since 1975. Sunflower strives to meet the increasing need for child care services for those who live and work in the surrounding communities. The organization’s primary use of the awarded funds is to support the staff with the necessary programing, equipment and tools needed to provide a quality early childhood education, while continuing to support the strong connection between parents and their care providers.

Cardboard Robot is a unique shop selling products to customers whose common purpose is making things. The store incorporates the best parts of art supply stores, toy shops, hobby stores, as well as crafting, paper arts, electronics, and many other pursuits – all under one roof! The primary use of the awarded funds will be to boost their marketing efforts to educate customers about the possibilities their products can offer. By pushing content out through social media channels and creating a marketing campaign that engages regional customers, the shop will be one more draw to an ever more visitor-friendly county.

Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange has led a grassroots movement to conserve and share thousands of endangered heirloom and open-pollinated varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers. The primary use of the awarded funds will support the attendance to the Independent Garden Show (IGC Show) in Chicago in August of the coming year. IGC Show is the world’s largest trade show, conference and networking event for independent garden center owners, managers and buyers. By attending the IGC, Seed Savers will gain exposure to more than 8,000 individuals.

OFF the Driftless Wellness and Adventure Company is dedicated to the exploration and preservation of the Driftless Area, and to the health and well-being of all who reside and visit northeast Iowa. The primary use of the awarded funds will be to support the expansion of services provided by the company. OFF the Driftless plans to provide kayak angling services this upcoming season and will host tours and instructional sessions by appointment on many of the open streams and rivers throughout the Driftless region. In addition, these funds will also support additional angling boats for client and instructional use.