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Tama County Economic Developement Pitch & Build Event

November 21, 2012
By John Speer CIP , Northern-Sun Print

New ideas from an organic meat processing plant to fudge topping flowed at the second Tama County Economic Development Pitch and Build quarterly event on Tuesday at the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center.

Four concepts for new or expanded businesses were presented to a panel of judges made up of Dwayne Luze, Dysart, chair of the Tama County Economic Development Commission, Tama Attorney John Willett and Sandy McAntire, Chelsea, owner of Shoestring Jungle and winner of the first Pitch and Build competition.

The competition benefits entrants by providing customized consulting and a bevy of other assistance to get their project going.

Article Photos

L-R- Carol Growen, Gladbrook-Lincoln- 3rd, Heath Kellogg, Tama County Economic Development executive director, Carl Zoffka, Ron Smith and Merle Parks, Garwin enteprise group, 2nd and Travis and Amy Fisher, Van’s Locker, Dysart, 1st. -CIP/John Speer

Just like the account of the first Pitch and Build competition, you have to read to the end to find out who the judges chose.

Here's a capsule review of the plans:

Amy and Travis Fisher, owners, of Van's Locker, Dysart, say they have identified a real demand for processing organic meat. They point to area sources for beef and pork raised on organic feed.

Iowa has no state-certified organic meat processing facility.

With that, the Fishers proposed to build one - a new processing facility near downtown Dysart. They plan to expand their retail sales operation and build a base of customers for organic meats, both on the retail and wholesale levels.

They said the location near downtown will be beneficial in part because of the tourist trade for the many shops located there.

The Fishers said they have grown the Van's Locker business 22 percent since buying it in 2010. Their current location was built in the 1960s and it would be difficult to convert it to meet state standards for organic processing. It is "landlocked" with no room for expansion.

Carol Growen began a nursery business in the rural Gladbrook-Lincoln area. She began looking for compost to aid in the growing operation. She couldn't find it.

After much searching, a source which provide compost for farmers in bulk in Ames was discovered.

It was determined bagged compost simply was not available in the product form desired.

Working with Tama County Economic Development, Carol's CSC Product launch will soon be bagging it using the technique used to fill sandbags in quantity for flooding.

Blain's Farm and Fleet and Farm Tech stores will be carrying the product beginning in the spring.

Heath Kellogg, executive director for Tama County Economic Development, presented the pitch for a group of investors who want to establish Stars Prep Academy in Tama County.

He likened the concept to an owner offering space in a building to independent contractors.

In this case, the idea is to provide intensive athletic training in individual sports to youth.

Coaches would specialize in providing education in skills for a particular athletic endeavor such as baseball or volleyball. An area of the building would be devoted to each sport.

Kellogg said this type of offering is not available in a centralized location in Iowa.

He said it would allow "kids who really want to excel" to hone their skills and would serve a large area of the state because athletes would travel to take advantage of the coaching expertise and facility itself.

He also said the Academy would help fulfill a goal set by Tama County Economic Development to offer programs which younger families would use and give them incentive to live here rather than leave the area or state.

Kellogg urged city leaders present to consider promoting the concept for their towns.

How about making Garwin the "fudge topping capital of the world challenging Hershey's" Kellogg quipped in making the pitch for a new industry for that town.

He said Garwin leaders have stepped forward and challenged him to come up with a business and new employment for their community.

In turn he located a maker of gourmet fudge sauce. The business is for sale. It has accounts ranging from Fareway to Hy-Vee groceries and has interest from others in carrying the product.

It's projected the company could employ seven or eight persons in production if markets are developed.

The panel of judges chose the Van's Locker expansion as No. 1, Fudge topping for Garwin No. 2 and Carol's compost bagging plans No. 3.

The third quarterly Pitch and Build is set for Feb. 26.

Contact Tama County Economic Development for details on how to enter your concept or business.

Tama County Economic Development

Heath Kellogg, executive director

Joanne Husak, assistant

1007 Prospect Drive,

Toledo IA 52342




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