20 Jan Em’s Coffee Company – Emilea’s Enterprises
This project helped Emilea’s Enterprises develop two closely tied natural resource based businesses that will provide job opportunities for special needs workers, Emilea’s Woodshop and Em’s Coffee Company. Northeast Iowa RC&D secured a $25,000 NRBOG to help the entrepreneur with start-up. The RC&D also helped with business planning, marketing and donated over $50,000 of equipment to the business. These businesses use local natural resources to create quality job opportunities for mentally and/or physically challenged workers. Emilea’s Woodshop utilizes local lumber to create quality hand-made furnishings; Em’s Coffee Company includes local berries, honey, nuts and other local foods on their menu with quality coffee. The businesses are co-located in a downtown store front in Independence where business patrons can sip coffee, enjoy local food and have a chance to purchase one of a kind furnishings made from local woods. Through its use of local food and local wood, this project promotes landscape diversity as well as the wise use and consumption of local resources. This project has been recognized nationally as a model for development of small natural resource based businesses that can provide quality work opportunities for special needs workers. The business owners presented information about their new business to the Reinventing Quality Conference in Baltimore and at several other venues. They spoke about business ownership and microenterprises, the decision making process they went through to take a different path and the process of putting the pieces together, establishing a business and how it is working.