‘Gift from India’ $10K recipients named Wednesday

One of Fort Dodge’s newest businesses will get a boost in its start up thanks to the help of a local businessman.

Playdate, a proposed family recreation center featuring soft contained play structures, slides and imagination-inspiring play areas for children ages 6 months to 12 years, will be owned and operated by Cody and Rose Davie. It was named the recipient of the Open For Business $10,000 Challenge Wednesday during a presentation at the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center in the Webster County Iowa State University Extension office.

The $10,000 award was 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 has a fund through the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way,” said Lisa Shimkat, director of the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center. “He was helped years ago and now he wants to help someone else.”

Fifteen new and transitioning small businesses applied for the funds. Applications were reviewed by a panel of judges including Bruce Shimkat, Todd Redenius, Bill Thatcher, Randy Kuhlman, Amy Bruno, Dave Jones and Bhatt.

“We are very appreciative of this,” said Shimkat. “This is the first time this opportunity has been available in this area.”

Applicants were required to have a reasonable opportunity for success, meet an identifiable need, have realistic revenue expectations and a realistic use for the funds, have a strong management team and an identified target market.

After the applications were initially reviewed, the field was narrowed to six finalists.

Bhatt said each applicant was deserving of the funds.

“All six were very good,” said Bhatt. “And I believe all six of these businesses will make it.”

“We were very impressed with all six finalists,” said Kuhlman, Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way chief executive officer. “We were impressed with their commitment to this area. They were all very passionate about their business plans. All of them are winners to us and we appreciate all of the entrepreneurs who came to us.”

Rose Davie, an award recipient, said she and her husband saw a need for a facility that could be open year round and cater to the needs of families with young children.

“We saw that there was a need for something like Playdate here,” Davie said. “There was not a whole lot that you could do here with a toddler and we thought now would be a great time to get this started.”

The facility would include bounce houses, an obstacle course, toddler play area and parents area. The proposed location is on South 29th Street just east of the Fort Dodge Goodwill store.

Davie said the award will help them get started as they plan to meet with their bank next week to work out financing for the business.

“We are very grateful,” she said. “This will be a great boost for us. It’s awesome. Just awesome.”