Competition could award $20,000 to a Main Street business

Mar. 12—Newton business owners in the Main Street District have a chance to be awarded $20,000 in grant funds if they win the Open 4 Business Contest this year.

Launched in 2015, the contest is an opportunity for businesses located within a state-designated Main Street district to compete for grant funds that would assist with a development or expansion project that will help them grow their business. The Newton business selected for the contest will also earn local prize money.

Grant funds can be used for inventory, equipment, marketing, computers and software upgrades. The grant money cannot be used for rent, utilities, remodeling, payroll for employees and vehicles. Businesses must have been open and operational for at least one year to apply.

Erin Yeager, executive director of Newton Main Street, is encouraging any and all Newton businesses in the district to apply for the Open 4 Business Contest. Applicants are required to complete an online application, provide a 25 percent cash match and submit a five-minute video pitch about their business idea.

Videos can be recorded using a cell phone and will be judged on content.

Applications are available now and are due by March 30. Local judging begins April 4. Each designated Main Street community in the state may submit one local business applicant representing their specific city. Which means Newton will only be able to send one applicant to the state competition.

"We will work with that individual business to make sure their application is good and their budget is well taken care of and their video for the state meets the three-minute length requirement and the size limit," Yeager said. "We at Main Street will work with the local winner and submit their application by May 5."

From the more than 50 Main Street communities in the state, Main Street Iowa judges will narrow down its selection to 12 businesses who will go on to the next level of competition. The Top 12 businesses will be announced in June. The state competition will feature the final five businesses in August.

"Those five will present in front of everybody at the Iowa Downtown Conference and then the winner will get announced that night," Yeager said. "It's a big deal!"

In the past, Farmhouse Creation was the local winner for Newton but was not able to make it past the first round of judging. But the business was still awarded local prize money.

For complete details about the program, contact Yeager by phone at 641-791-9617 or by email at, or contact Robin Bostrom, business specialist of Iowa Downtown Resource Center/Main Street Iowa at 515-348-6176 or