Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award

Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award

Heidi Bell and her husband are fourth generation farmers in Decatur County who are committed to sustaining rural Iowa communities and rural economic development. In 2009, with help from the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwestern Community College, Heidi purchased a storefront on the town square in Leon, population 1977, and opened a coffee house named “From The Ground.”

Heidi’s primary motivations for starting From The Ground were to open a restaurant/coffee house that would serve an unmet need in the community, offer a gathering place (especially for women) with a homey, friendly atmosphere and great customer service, provide a venue for local entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their wares, and offer a place for community and school activities and events. From the Ground’s storefront includes a bookstore, a bakery, and a gift shop that sells locally-made jewelry, art, crafts, wood working and more, all owned and operated by Leon area women.

Regional SBDC Director Dave McLaren began working with Heidi in August 2009. Heidi says, “The SBDC has been a great asset since day one with my business and I might not be in business if it weren’t for Dave’s support. He did an excellent job in asking me to really think about some tough questions when I was developing my business plan. I have utilized SBDC for QuickBooks classes and continuing education. I continually refer small businesses to the SBDC for support and guidance and whenever an entrepreneur shares their dream plan with me I refer them directly to Dave.”

Today, From The Ground is a thriving and successful business with seven employees. Heidi’s employees are a team and she treats them like family. They work full- or part-time based on their needs and hers. They are dedicated and hard-working and contribute greatly to Heidi’s success.

Dave McLaren believes every community in rural Iowa needs someone like Heidi who is totally committed to her community. Heidi tries to order and purchase many products locally and is an advocate for local businesses, referring potential customers to them. She is also greatly involved in her community, serving as President of the Leon Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Leon Community Development Corporation Board.

Heidi has led the marketing efforts for Leon by building a website, addressing dilapidated housing, creating a community vision/mission statement, and helping others develop their “30 second commercial” to promote the community. She is also a church youth group education director, a member of the Leon Hospital Board, a Little League sponsor, and a 4-H leader. Heidi also supports local businesses by serving as a mentor to new business owners, providing insight into advertising services, web development, the local Chamber, and so forth. Heidi truly “wants to see Leon thrive, not just survive.”

We congratulate Heidi for being chosen as the Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award winner for 2013!

Content contributed by the Iowa Small Business Development Centers.

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