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Shopkeepers Awarded Spark Grants to Fuel Business Growth

NewBo City Market is proud to announce the recognition of multiple entrepreneurs through the inaugural Spark Grants program. Made possible by the generous backing of the Iowa Women's Foundation with support from the Cedar Grove Fund from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, these grants stand as a testament to the enduring commitment to fostering equitable entrepreneurial growth in the community.

The Spark Grant program has been designed to propel the advancement of small enterprises nestled within the Market's business incubator community. By extending vital financial aid to start-up entrepreneurs, the program aims to ignite fresh ideas, amplify efficiency, and cultivate a thriving business ecosystem that ripples positive effects throughout the community.

The following NewBo City Market businesses are the recipients of the Spark Grant: Luna Gelato, The Barkery, Rare Bird Soap Shop, Lori Ann’s Candies, Capo’s Italian Beef, Tangled Heartstrings, Tree of Liminality, and Oja.

Carol Elliot of Luna Gelato used her Spark Grant funds to purchase a new gelato machine.

Carol Elliot, the founder of Luna Gelato, expressed heartfelt gratitude for the grant she received for her newest venture in February. "This grant made it possible for us to purchase a gelato machine, as well as cover some of the costs of starting a handmade gelato operation," Carol shared. The infusion of this new capability positions Luna Gelato to delight patrons with its array of frozen treats.

Missa Coffman, the creative force behind and founder of Tree of Liminality, lauded the game-changing investments enabled by her Spark Grant: "We purchased several pieces of book binding equipment, and we were able to buy a subscription for Adobe Creative Cloud." These upgrades solidify Tree of Liminality's capacity to craft new forms of art.

Elizabeth Rueschhoff, owner of Lori Ann's Candies, used these grant funds to purchase a tempering machine and a guitar cutter.

Elizabeth Rueschhoff, owner of Lori Ann's Candies, brimming with enthusiasm, shared, "We purchased a tempering machine as well as a guitar cutter to increase efficiency and capacity of production,” adding “These new tools have allowed us to more effectively meet demand.”

Oja restaurant owner, Kwai Butler, expressed her journey starting a business: "Our largest

purchase was our new refrigerated prep station. We also were able to outfit our space with the remaining grant funds. We hope to increase our capacity for catering, weekly specials,

Kwai Butler, owner of Oja, used her funds to outfit her new space at the Market.

and a larger menu offering." With these strategic enhancements, Oja stands poised to enhance their offerings, heightening the experience for its patrons by bringing fresh new flavors from Korean cuisine to the community.

Both the Iowa Women's Foundation and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation share a profound optimism about the transformative potential of the Spark Grant within the NewBo City Market community. "Supporting these innovative entrepreneurs as they navigate the path towards business expansion and community enrichment brings us immense satisfaction," remarked Sarah Blais, Senior Director of Market Operations at NewBo City Market.

The Spark Grant program stands as a dynamic testament to the partnership between the Iowa Women's Foundation, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, and NewBo City Market community. This collaboration exemplifies the considerable influence that focused support and collaborative efforts can wield in uplifting small businesses.

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