Iowa’s Creative Corridor is ripe with resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to create here. Uptown Marion Main Street provides a range of business support, making Uptown Marion the easy choice to start and grow a business. In partnership with local and state organizations, Uptown Marion Main Street provides:
- Business Advocacy and Support
- Educational Workshops and Trainings
- Networking Events
- Financial Opportunities and Resource Navigation
- Grant Writing Support
- District Data and Statistic Collection
Throughout the year, Uptown Marion Main Street hosts a variety of workshops and training that are customized for business owners within the District. Past workshops have included HR: 101, How to Get, Keep & Grow Your Customer Base, and Demystifying Social Media, among other topics.
Open 4 Business was developed by Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority, in partnership with Uptown Marion and Main Street communities around the state, to help provide local financial and technical support for business retention, expansion, and recruitment efforts within each Main Street district. The Open 4 Business competition is an opportunity for you to receive some free seed financing and business support for you to start or grow your business in Uptown Marion!
- April 20th: Open 4 Business Entry Form Due by Midnight
- April 25th: Uptown Marion Open 4 Business Competition, Uptown Marion
- May 6th: State Application & Video Due to Main Street Iowa
- June 15: Semi-Finalist State Level Judging – Virtual Interviews
- August 1st: Statewide Open 4 Business Competition
- $1,000 – Uptown Marion Winner (advances to State Competition)
- $8,000 – Semi-Finals Winner (advances to Finals Competition)
- $20,000 – Statewide Winner
- Businesses will be required to complete an entry form and make a 5 minute “sales pitch” about their business to a panel of judges. This will be followed by up to 5 minutes of q&a from the judges.
- Sales pitch may include a PowerPoint presentation, samples, and props if desired. Be creative and have fun!
- The winner of the local competition will create a video to submit for the state competition.
- Competition winners at the state level will be reimbursed funds upon submission of receipts showing funds used towards agreed upon eligible expenses with cash match requirements.
- Business must be located in the Uptown Marion District.
- Businesses must be open and operating for one year to apply.
- Business must be a for-profit business.
- Businesses must provide a 25% cash match toward the business development efforts outlined in their business pitch. It is important to show you have some “skin in the game”.
- While all businesses are welcome to apply, preference will be given to those in the retail and food services industries in order to fill a current gap in Uptown Marion. Preference will also be given to those open until at least 6:00pm M-F and have hours of operations on Saturday.
- Any business that competed at the state level in 2021 is NOT eligible to apply.
2021 RESOURCES & INFO:
- 2022 Flier
- Competition Rules
- Competition Regulations
- Judges Scoring Criteria
- Budget Form
- What is the Uptown Marion District boundaries?
View our district map
- What businesses currently exist in Uptown Marion?
View our business directory
- What properties are currently for sale and lease in Uptown Marion?
View our available real estate listing
- How do I learn more about Uptown Marion and Main Street?
2021 Semi Finalist: The Grill Works ($14,000)
2020 Local Winner: The Grill Works ($1,000)
2019 Local Winner: Roots in Bloom ($1,000)
2018 Semi Finalist: SugarMe ($14,000)
2017 Local Winner: Ramsey’s Wine Bistro ($1,000)
2016 Local Winner: Synergy Metalworks ($1,000)
2015 Local & Regional Winner: Giving Tree Theater ($10,500)
Uptown Marion Main Street
Uptown Marion Main Street is sponsoring a Business Signage & Awning Grant Program, which is intended to stimulate improvements to the exterior of commercial building in the Uptown Marion District.
Who is eligible: Owners and/or tenants of existing commercial buildings within the Uptown Marion District. Tenant applicants are required to submit written evidence of building owner’s approval of the application (if applicable). Maximum grant amount: $1,000, requiring a 1:1 match (at least 50 percent of the cost of the project must be paid for by the owner). One grant will be awarded per business. Grant monies will be distributed to awarded recipients on a reimbursement basis. Annual funding is limited. Awards will be granted on a first-come first-served basis. Please contact Uptown Marion Main Street prior to beginning any work to make sure funds are available.
PROGRAM DETAILS / APPLICATION
Click here to download for more information about the grant program, including eligible uses and the application process.
Uptown Marion Main Street
The purpose of the City of Marion and Marion Chamber of Commerce Revolving Loan Fund (RFL) is to provide business creation and expansion assistance for small businesses located within the City of Marion boundaries. The RFL supports a diversified economy including small locally owned businesses in the retail, office, services, nonprofit, and food markets. Through the establishment of this RLF, the City of Marion and Marion Chamber of Commerce intends to:
- Create new jobs and retain existing jobs
- Aid small business development
- Increase per capita income
- Increase the tax base
- Stabilize and diversify the area economy by providing employers with capital for start-up and/or expansion of locally owned businesses.
- Redevelop and/or reuse blighted or vacant land and facilities in order to put them to productive use
- Complement other State and Federal economic development loan programs
- Aid businesses owned and operated by minorities, women, or by persons who are economically disadvantaged
- Leverage the minimum amount of public dollars with the maximum amount of private dollars
- Identify potential sources of additional capital for sustained growth and viability of the fund
East Central Iowa Council of Governments
700 Sixteenth Street, Suite 301
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
The SBA 504 loan program is a long-term financing tool for economic development within a community. The 504 Program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings. More information.
The 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for businesses with special requirements. For example, funds are available for loans to businesses that handle exports to foreign countries, businesses that operate in rural areas, and for other very specific purposes. More information.
The Microloan Program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns and certain types of not-for-profit child-care centers. The SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance. These intermediaries make loans to eligible borrowers. The maximum loan amount is $50,000, but the average microloan is about $13,000. More information.
SPECIAL PURPOSE LOANS PROGRAM
SBA offers several special purpose 7(a) loans to aid businesses that have been impacted by NAFTA, to provide financial assistance to Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and to help implement pollution control mechanisms. More information.
ADVANTAGE LOAN INITIATIVES
Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage 7(a) Loan Initiatives SBA is committed to expanding access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities so that we can drive economic growth and job creation. More information.
The Targeted Small Business (TSB) Program of Iowa is designed to help women, minorities and the disabled overcome some of the major hurdles to starting or growing a small business in Iowa. The TSB program makes microloans available to qualified Iowa small business owners.
To become certified, a business must:
- be located in Iowa,
- operate for a profit,
- have less than $4 million in annual gross income, computed as an average of the preceding three fiscal years, AND
- be majority-owned (51 percent or more), operated and managed by a female, minority group member or a person with a disability.
The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) handles the certification. For more information on how to get a business TSB-certified, visit https://www.iowa.gov/tsb/.
The loan program is managed by ISED Ventures / Iowa Center for Economic Success. For more information on TSB Loans, visit http://theiowacenter.org/microloans/.
DREM BIG GROW HERE
Dream Big Grow Here provides the opportunity for Iowa entrepreneurs to earn cash in small business grants to start or expand their business dream. Dream Big Grow Here runs from December through May. It starts with an online application and voting, followed by an in-person industry specific pitch-off for a chance to earn $5,000. Industry winners will be selected and announced at EntreFEST in May. More information.
LINKED INVESTMENTS FOR TOMORROW PROGRAM
Small Business Linked Investments for Tomorrow (LIFT) provides capital for small businesses owned and operated by Iowa residents. One-half of the moneys invested will be available for qualifying small businesses which are 51 percent or more owned, operated, and actively managed by one or more women, minority persons, or persons with disabilities. More information.