Open 4 Business Contest Now Open
Do you have a great business idea? Have you always wanted to own a business in downtown Fort Dodge? Is your current business planning to expand services or add a new product line? Do you have a piece of equipment you wish you could purchase for your business?
Main Street Fort Dodge is looking for interested entrepreneurs who could use $28,000 to expand and grow their business idea within the Fort Dodge Main Street district. The Open 4 Business contest, launched in 2015, is an opportunity for businesses located within a state-designated Main Street district, to compete for a chance to win up to $28,000 in grant funds to assist with a business development or expansion project that will help them grow their business.
Businesses must complete an online application and submit a short video outlining their business idea and how it will benefit the local economic climate in their community. A 25% cash match is required. Businesses must have been in operation for at least 1 year to apply. The grant funds are administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa program.
Main Street Fort Dodge is holding a local contest for existing businesses within the Main Street District. The local winner will receive $250. The business should fill a gap that currently exists within our district. The deadline for local applications 3 p.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021. Applications are available at mainstreetfd.org
There will be a live pitch contest on Thursday, March 4. Details will be announced. Businesses will be required to complete an online application and submit a five-minute “video pitch” about their business idea. The video pitch is a simple video that tells about the business and how they would invest the Open 4 Business grant funds to help expand and grow their business. Videos will be judged on content and can be recorded with a smartphone. Videos cannot exceed 5 minutes. Be creative and have fun!
Each designated Main Street community may submit one local business applicant that will represent their community at the state competition. Statewide contest pitches will be the evening of July 26, 2021 – as part of the State Downtown Conference in Iowa City, Iowa. In the event that the conference is not held due to health concerns, the pitches will be held virtually.
A panel of judges from across the state will judge the online applications and video pitches and select the top four applicants in each population category. These applicants will become the 12 semi-finalists. Three (3) population categories will be determined once all applications have been received to allow for an equal number of applicants in each category. Each of the 12 semi-finalists will be required to participate in an online video interview with the panel of judges on May 26, 2021. Interviews will last no more than 15 minutes.
The judges will choose five finalists to advance to the state competition. The five finalists will include one winner from each population category and two “wild card” winners. The five finalists will be notified on June 1, 2021. They will receive an $8,000 grant award, technical assistance, and coaching for the state contest from a Main Street Iowa Business Specialist to help them prepare for their live contest pitch at the state contest.
For complete details about this program, please contact Kris Patrick at or call 515-573-3172 or Robin Bostrom, Business Specialist, Iowa Downtown Resource Center/Main Street Iowa at 515.348.6176 or robin.bostrom@iowaEDA.com.