‘Open for Business’

One new north central Iowa business will be getting a little help with its startup costs when it is named the first recipient of the North Central Iowa Open For Business $10,000 challenge award.

The monetary award is being made possible by local businessman Paresh Bhatt, owner and general manager of Comfort Inn of Fort Dodge through Comfort Inn’s Gift From India Fund.

“Paresh had been working with his attorney and Randy Kuhlman at the Community Foundation and United Way, and they asked us if we could help with it,” said Lisa Shimkat, director of the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center.

Shimkat said the award is the first that caters specifically to businesses located in the North Central Iowa region, which is comprised of Webster, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Calhoun and Wright counties.

‘This is just an amazing opportunity for those looking to start their own business,” she said.

Applicants for the $10,000 had to meet the following criteria: having reasonable opportunity for success, meets an identifiable need, has realistic revenue expectations, has a realistic use for the funds, a strong management team and an identified target market.

A total of 15 new and transitioning small businesses applied for the funds, which will be presented at 9 a.m. today during a program at the Webster County Iowa State University Extension office, 217 S. 25th St, Suite C12.

After being reviewed by a panel of local entrepreneurs six finalists were selected.

“All of the applicants were great,” said Shimkat. “It was a very tough decision for our judges.”

The presentation will be open to the public and local small business owners are encouraged to attend.

“Anyone can come out and get involved,” said Shimkat. “Come out and get involved. It will be a good opportunity to thank Paresh for his dedication to the community.”