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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Ross Street Roasting

A sweet little boy surprised his grandmother one morning and brought her a cup of coffee. He made it himself and was so proud. He anxiously waited to hear the verdict on the quality of the coffee. The grandmother had never in her life had such a vile cup of coffee, and as she forced down the last sip she noticed three of those little green army guys in the bottom of the cup.  She asked, “Honey, why would three little green army guys be in the bottom of my cup?”  Her grandson replied, “You know grandma, it’s like on TV, ‘The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.'”

The Folger’s ad that the boy confused made me pause and think… what is the best part of waking up as an Economic Developer? And for me it was easy – helping people create businesses from a passion they have is an amazing process. One of the best descriptions of what we do in Economic Development comes from a coffee roasting business started in Toledo by Brian Gumm. Read below as Brian describes his journey:

Winning the Pitch & Build last fall was a great confidence booster for me and my little hobby of roasting coffee. About a month later, Heath and I met one-on-one and he gave me a few simple tips on what to focus on in terms of business development. Over the next three or four months I continued my little hobby and continued to pick up a few new local customers here and there, while developing a stronger relationship with my existing customers. I also started to put out feelers to larger potential clients such as nearby coffee shops, seeing if there was any interest in working with a local roaster. There was, and I arrived at a decision point: I was maxed out in terms of my equipment and time availability for roasting, and yet here were legitimate, larger business opportunities before me. And all the while I had continued to love all the aspects of the hobby: the roasting side and the business side.

So I decided it was time to get serious and take Ross Street Roasting Co. toward becoming an actual company, rather than a hobby. Talking with Heath and doing a lot of research online, I developed a 3-page business plan that mapped out my vision for what kind of company I wanted to become, along with some basic short, mid, and long-range milestones to work toward.

In February, I was approached by a potential investor through my own personal network. Once they showed interest I sat down and developed a 3-year financial plan for the business, with a very conservative growth chart which showed profitability in the third year. After vetting the plan with Heath and another trusted local friend in business, I sent the plan in and the investor accepted. We’re now in the process of forming an LLC as business partners. I’ll be developing a room in my basement as the roasting facility, installing a commercial roaster, getting licensed by the state, and I hope to be up and running in June or July.

It’s hard to believe how far things have moved in seven months since the Pitch & Build, but I’m very excited and pleased at how things have developed. My thanks to Heath for organizing these events and for being a great sounding board and reality checker as I’ve gone through the process. What a great asset to Tama County entrepreneurs!

Brian Gumm – Owner/Roaster Ross Street Roasting Co.


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