Rustic Hearth Bakery is moving from NewBo City Market to 3531 Mount Vernon Road SE in Cedar Rapids this spring.
After three years at NewBo City Market, Rustic Hearth Bakery is taking its wide assortment of bread and handmade baked goods to a larger location in what founder Tom Schmitt is billing a graduation of sorts.

"NewBo is an incubator for businesses - a chance to try your idea out and see if it works. If not, you get out and if so, you get your own brick and mortar location," said Mr. Schmitt, who hopes to open the new Rustic Hearth Bakery at 3531 Mount Vernon Road SE in Cedar Rapids this spring. "It was time for us to move on and do our own thing."

Rustic Hearth will take over the space most recently occupied by L'Auberge restaurant. Before that, however, the location housed popular local bakery Croissant Du Jour.

"So we know that area will sustain [a bakery] and that there is a lack of places in the area to get baked goods and coffee," Mr. Schmitt said. "It was just a good fit for us."

In addition to coffee, Rustic Hearth plans to expand its bread offerings and add a light breakfast and lunch menu.

"At NewBo, we were kind of a community and we did our best not to step on anyone else's toes," Mr. Schmitt said, adding the current location does not offer coffee since there is already a coffee shop onsite. "There is a lot more we can do and experiment with a larger space."

Mr. Schmitt said he could add as many as three new employees when the new location opens sometime in April.

"Our customers are very excited and a lot of them live on that side of town," he said. "I think people were a little upset when Croissant Du Jour left because there are not a lot of other options. That there is a lot of excitement is a good feeling."

Follow Rustic Hearth's progress on the new location on Facebook.
Para2SBA approves $30.6 million in small biz loans for past two months
With the government shutdown in the rear view mirror, the U.S. Small Business Administration is once again processing - and reporting - on small business lending. According to a release issued this week, the SBA backed 46 loans worth about $30.6 million to Iowa businesses for the months of December and January. 

Statewide, the SBA backed 26 loans for $23,216,500 in December and 20 loans for $7,393,100 in January. No  SBA loans were processed for approval from Dec. 22 through Jan. 27  due to the lapse in federal appropriations. Ten Corridor businesses received nearly $5.7 million in loans over the two-month period.

Corridor businesses approved for SBA-backed loans over the past two months included:
  • $217,000 to Custom Cutlery Inc. of Marengo
  • $864,000 to Snowball LLC of Iowa City
  • $310,000 to the Bradley Center PC of Iowa City
  • $180,000 to Peak Construction Group Inc. of North Liberty
  • $3 million to Cellsite Solutions LLC of Cedar Rapids
  • $500,000 to BLX Inc. of Cedar Rapids
  • $400,200 to Fearless Endeavors Inc. of Marion
  • $40,000 to P&N Corporation of Marion
  • $100,000 to Joy Goddess Delectables LLC of Wellman
  • $60,000 to BDA LLC of Washington
Corridor businesses reported creating 46 new jobs and retaining 67 others as a result of the loans.

The largest loan over the two-month period for $5 million went to Vision Electric, LLC of Bondurant, an electrical contractor.
Para3 Marion entrepreneur specializes in weighted blankets for anxiety
Lisa Pope started making customized weighted blankets after they helped her daughter sleep through the night. CREDIT CBS2/FOX 28
Weighted blankets are recommended by some experts to help people dealing with anxiety attacks, trouble sleeping, and any condition that keeps people anxious.

As CBS2/FOX 28 reports, they're also the remedy helping Lisa Pope's daughter stay asleep at night. Ms. Pope says the specialized blanket was recommended to her by her daughter's therapist.

"She was a sensory seeker," Ms. Pope said. "So, her body was constantly looking for something to fill that need."

Three years later, her daughter is still sleeping through the night and carries the blanket most places. As for Ms. Pope, she's now the owner of   Just Pulling Strings, where she makes customized weighted blankets.

"Anyone with anxiety, ADHD...they tend to have a really hard time falling asleep," explained Ms. Pope, who  uses polyfiber beads to fill her blankets, which range from lap-sized to longer. Her blankets typically weigh anywhere from 3 to 17 pounds, but can go heavier if necessary when making customized ones for customers.

"You want it to be no more than 10 percent of your body weight," s aid Kassi Tuthill, an occupational therapist at  UnityPoint St. Luke's Hospital's Witwer Children's Therapy."That's just to make sure it's not too heavy or too constricting," 

Read the full story here.
pitchFedEx launches seventh annual Small Business Grant Contest

Keith Alaniz and Kim Jung's Chicago-based Rumi Spice, which markets premier saffron from the fields of Afghanistan, won last year's grand prize in FedEx's Small Business Grant Contest. CREDIT FEDEX
A total of $220,500 in cash and prizes are up for grabs in FedEx's  seventh annual Small Business Grant Contest, which opened this week. 

This year's contest will offer grants and services to 10 U.S.-based small businesses and will distribute the largest sum since the contest was established in 2012. The grand prize is $50,000 and the silver prize is $30,000. Eight bronze prize winners will receive grants of $15,000 each.

In addition to the grants, winners will receive an additional dollar amount in credit to use toward FedEx Office print and business services as well as packages designed to help them with website optimization, design thinking, social media and print expertise. 

"We know it's difficult for even the most promising of small businesses to grow and scale, especially at the beginning of their lifecycle" said Scott Harkins, senior vice president of FedEx Customer Channel Marketing, in a release. "This year, our winners will receive much-needed expertise and advice on some of the most fundamental and critical aspects of building a viable and sustainable business - and we will stay on with them as a trusted adviser as they take their businesses to the next level."

The 2018 contest garnered nearly 665,000 votes and attracted more than 7,800 candidates from across the United States. Grand prize winner Rumi Spice, a small Chicago-based business that sources and brings to market premier saffron from the fields of Afghanistan, was founded by former Army officer Keith Alaniz and two friends who, while serving in the war-torn country, realized the need to provide economic alternatives to opium farming for the Afghan people. Since taking home the grand prize, the company has used their winnings to improve supply chain logistics, as they transport the saffron out of Afghanistan and bring it to Chicago where it is then packaged and sent to Michelin star restaurants and consumers all over the United States.

The 2019 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is open to U.S.-based for-profit small businesses that have less than 99 employees and have been operating for six months or more. To enter, participants must visit   and enter their contact information, write a short profile about their business and upload four photos of their business or product, including their logo. While not required, participants also have the option of submitting a 90-second "elevator speech" video to supplement their entry. 

The contest entry period is open from Feb. 19 to March 25, with voting to take place from Feb, 27 to April 1.  
Para5Consulting: Do you have what it takes to bounce back?
In this week's consulting spotlight, Gale Mote of Gale Mote Associates discusses the power of resiliency - and how to achieve it.

You don't have to be very old or have been in the working world very long to have experienced adversity or disappointment. Maybe the promo­tion you were counting on went to someone else. 

Perhaps you found yourself struggling in a new role, feeling like a failure when what you need­ed most was a small win. Sometimes the waves of change swallow us up and spit us out on the shore, shaken and defeated.

Resilience is a personal competency for indi­viduals who want to re-ignite their enthusiasm, succeed in making changes, recover quickly from work setbacks and remain on course to ful­fill work and personal goals.

Let's look at a few core emotional intelligence behaviors you can develop to build your ability to bounce back: flexibility, self-regard and optimism.

Flexibility is the ability to adjust and adapt - to take in new information, stay open to alter­natives and adjust your course of action. Blessed are they who are flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape. As simple as it sounds, one way to develop more flexibility is to change your routines - how you drive to work or the process for starting your day.

When you look at the pros and cons of an option or idea as well as the consequences of action versus inaction, flexibility becomes much easier. The biggest risk is often not taking the risk. Stretching yourself to learn a new skill, show interest in someone not like you or step­ping outside your comfort zone helps to build the flexibility muscle.

Your ability - in full light of your strengths and weaknesses - to both like and have confi­dence in yourself is essential to brushing yourself off after a fall. This is your  self-regard - you are worthy, you are valued. Identify your strengths and take time to develop them.

According to Mark Murphy, of Leadership IQ, it is important to set HARD goals: Heartfelt, Ani­mated, Required and Difficult. You will be more motivated and disciplined to accomplish some­thing that really matters to you, where you can see the benefits of making it happen and where it is not just something nice to do - it is neces­sary. When you reach a milestone, your confi­dence builds to set and achieve the next one.

Read the full column at
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Short-Term Event Planner      

Feb. 21
Business Law Bootcamp, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 6:30-8 p.m., Hills Bank & Trust, 3204 Seventh Ave., Marion. This session will cover the basics of an S Corporation versus an LLC, leases and buy-sell agreements. To register, visit and click on the event calendar.

Feb. 25
Quickbooks: The Basics, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 9-10:30 a.m., Purdue University, 3165 Edgewood Parkway SW, Cedar Rapids. Learn the basics of setting up a company and doing transactions in Quickbooks. Free. To register, visit

Coralville Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Coralville Hy-Vee, 1914 Eighth St., Coralville. Roundtables are social lunches over the noon hour. All are invited to network, keep up-to-date with chamber and community events and frequent a member restaurant or business. Free. Contact Emily at (319) 337-9637 or with questions.

Feb. 26
Promotional Product Showcase, by Team Iowa, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton, 350 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Meet the industry's top suppliers of promotional products and apparel. Free.

Feb. 27
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit

1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit

Small Business Networking Event, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 10 a.m.-noon, MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join the chamber at MERGE following 1 Million Cups to network with other small business owners and resource partners in the Iowa City area. Free.

Creating a Lean Office, by Iowa Quality Center, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, 2490 Crosspark Road, Coralville. Learn how to improve the flow of work in the office and reduce the eight wastes in an office environment. Free. To register, visit
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28
A new bill at the statehouse aimed at strengthening animal abuse laws could soon be on its way to the Senate floor.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate File Bill 1075. It is one of the most comprehensive anti-animal abuse bills this session. Anti-animal abuse advocates are already touting the positive steps forward this legislation could bring to one of the weakest laws protecting companion animals in the country.  "I think if someone is torturing an animal or abusing an animal, I wish that they weren't able to have an animal at all," said Jennifer Lane, marketing and development director of the Cedar Valley Humane Society.   "It increases penalties, abuse neglect and torture. It improves some of the legal definitions on some of those terms as well," said Preston Moore, Iowa state director for the Humane Society of the United States. 

The Iowa City Fire Department says $70,000 worth of damage was caused this morning from a fire at a home on 740 Kirkwood Ave.  Investigators say no one was home when the fire started around 6 a.m. Neighbors called 911 when they spotted the back porch on fire.  Fire crews controlled the flames in only 16 minutes.  No one was hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

We will have a nice, calm end to the week in eastern Iowa. Then, another storm will move through the Midwest this weekend.  Temperatures will be near 30 Friday. There will be mostly sunny skies today with a few more clouds Friday.  A very strong winter storm will take shape to our southwest and move into the area Friday night. Late Friday there will be the chance for a wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet. Warmer air will move in, and temperatures will rise above freezing, changing the precipitation to all rain across most of the area. There may still be some areas of freezing rain in the far north. Temperatures will be in the 30s in the afternoon. Then colder air will begin to wrap in behind the storm and that will change precipitation over to snow Saturday night into Sunday.  The track of this storm will be incredibly important in determining the impacts, concerning heavy snow and strong winds. Some snowfall accumulation is possible in Eastern Iowa with the highest chance for rain now  in the northwestern parts of the area.