Biz Buzz: Cascade eyes grant for downtown building; Dubuque firm expands reach; Lancaster business reopens

At the former Corner Tap in Cascade, Iowa, plans call for adding apartments on the upper level and a restaurant or microbrewery on the lower level. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-state area. This week, we highlight developments in Cascade and Dubuque, Iowa, and Lancaster, Wis.

CASCADE, Iowa — Plans to rehab a building in downtown Cascade are fueling a growing sense of momentum about the small town’s future.

The Cascade City Council recently authorized City Administrator Deanna McCusker to submit a grant application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority. If approved, the grant would support substantial renovations to a now-vacant property at 201 First Ave. W.

McCusker said plans call for apartments on the upper level and a restaurant or microbrewery on the lower level.

“I think it would definitely increase the traffic coming to the downtown and it would add to the economic vitality in the community,” she said.

McCusker said the rehabilitation of the building — which formerly housed Corner Tap — would add another attraction to an area that’s already seen an uptick in new businesses.

She said Two Gingers Tavern & Eatery already brings crowds to the downtown. Meanwhile, Cheryl’s Flour Garden Bakery and Coffee Bar opened at 126 First Ave. W. in August.

Solon, Iowa, resident Brian Bock purchased the vacant building on First Avenue West in September for about $80,000, according to online property records.

“I am someone who has always enjoyed rehabbing older houses and buildings,” he said. “I saw this property and thought it was a great opportunity.”

He said demolition within the building already has begun. The roof, windows and building facade all are due for significant improvements.

“Lots of heavy construction needs to be done to make that building a nice place that someone wants to live in,” Bock said.

While the IEDA grant would help move the project forward, Bock said he’ll proceed with improvements to the building either way.

Bock said it is too early to share specifics on the possibilities for what will reside within the structure.

He said a business could open within the building as early as this fall, but said a 2021 opening is more likely.

LOGISTICS FIRM EXPANDS REACH

A Dubuque logistics company is continuing to expand its national footprint while adding to its employment locally.

Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions last week announced a partnership with Reinhardt & Hursey Transportation, LLC, a St. Louis-based logistics company.

Rockfarm co-founder and President Brad Stewart believes the deal was another step toward expanding and enhancing the company’s presence and performance across the U.S.

“This will provide us with a broader base of business in that area and help us gain a deeper knowledge within the truckload brokerage market in St. Louis,” he said.

Similar partnerships have been established by Rockfarm in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, Mich., underscoring the growing national reach of the company.

Rockfarm was founded in East Dubuque, Ill., in 2008. The company moved to its current location, 300 Data Court in Dubuque, in August 2015.

Rockfarm recently completed a $225,000 renovation project that expanded the usable space within that location. The company employs 55 people in Dubuque and now has space for 73 in that facility.

Efforts already are underway to hire new employees.

“I think within the next two years, we will be at maximum capacity there,” Stewart said.

Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions can be reached at 815-573-0155.

NEW CHAPTER FOR LANCASTER BUSINESS

A longtime Lancaster, Wis., liquor store is back in operation.

Schurman’s Downtown Liquors opened at 142 N. Madison St. earlier this month, according to owner Brian Schurman. The previous incarnation of the business, known simply as Downtown Liquors, closed its doors a few months ago.

Customers have been happy to see a new chapter begin for the business.

“Lots of people have come in and talked about how sad they were to see it close,” said Schurman. “This is the only store like this in town. You have convenience stores that sell some products, but they are not a specialty store like we are.”

Schurman was raised in Lancaster and graduated from Lancaster High School in 1994. He later moved away from the community for about 18 years.

When he returned, he landed a job as a dispatcher for a trucking company. After Downtown Liquors closed, he decided to seize the opportunity and purchase the business.

He opted to maintain the “Downtown Liquors” portion of the moniker, while adding his own surname to the mix. Schurman explained that his family name is well known in the area because of Schurman’s Wisconsin Cheese, a company that was founded by his grandfather.

Schurman’s Downtown Liquors stocks a variety of wines, liquors, beers, hard seltzers and more.

“I am still learning,” said Schurman. “I am still getting to know the repeat customers and build up the inventory with exactly what the people want.”

Schurman has hired a full-time and a part-time employee to round out his staff.

The business is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It can be reached at 608-723-0173.