Go to SpringfieldZoom.com for Complete Updated List

Economic development organizations in Springfield and Sangamon County are working in tandem to help all of our businesses make it through the current COVID-19 shutdown.

A new website, donated by a local Springfield business, will consolidate business information across Sangamon County to keep consumers apprised of the status of their favorite local businesses and their services in one, easily searchable, place.

The website is SpringfieldZoom.com.

Any Sangamon County business or organization can simply click on “Register My Business” to get started. It takes less than three minutes for a business to create a free account. Plus they can update their status as the situation changes.

For the public, they can easily search for their favorite businesses to find out their status and whether they can purchase gift certificates, get take-out, etc. 

This one-stop website was built and is being donated by Springfield businesses GoWeb1 and AlertsMadeEasy.com, who built it in two days. They are donating this effort for the entire business community in Sangamon County as a free tool to help businesses and organizations quickly communicate their operational status to the public.

All of the partner economic development organizations will market this site as Sangamon County’s one-stop information source for consumers to look up business openings and closings throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.

CONTACT
Val Yazell, City of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development
Josh Collins, Sangamon Springfield Growth Alliance
Chris Hembrough, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
Lisa Clemmons Stott, Downtown Springfield Inc
Katie Davison, Innovate Springfield | Macarthur Boulevard Association
Chris Long, Local First Springfield
Kevin Lust, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College

Downtown Restaurants with Delivery or Curb-side Pickup

We will keep adding to this list as we hear from our downtown businesses. Don’t forget to consider gift certificate purchases as well!

Look for the bagged meters to pick up your order!

CURB SIDE PICK UP

Long Nine Junction at 5 W Old State Capitol Plaza – menu on Facebook and call (217) 210-2400

Arlington’s at 210 Broadway – menu online

VELE order online and pick up at Curate only Wednesday – Saturday from 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Buzz Bomb options from the tap room including package beer, growlers, gift cards, and merchandise- pick up at 406 E Adams on Fridays 2-8pm & Saturdays 12-6pm

Jerk Shop Go – menu online – call for pick-up (217)717-0299

Anvil & Forge brews available – pick up at 619 E Washington

Cafe Moxo – order online

Sangamo Club – members can order carryout by phone from 10 am – 6 pm daily (menu via direct daily email)

Head West Subs at 530 E Capitol Ave – order online for pick up

Augie’s Front Burner at 109 S 5th St during limited hours at 217-544-6979 – menu posted on Facebook

La Piazza open during Lunch Tues – Sunday 11am – 2pm and Dinner 2pm – 7pm – menu here and call for pick up at 217-572-1442

Coopers Streatside offering Take and Bakes available for pick-up Tuesday from 10am – 12noon & 3pm- 5pm curbside. Please place orders by 6pm Monday 3/16

Anchors Away order online and pick up at 518 E Capital

Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery – Offering curbside pick-up including growlers and $1.00 OFF crowlers (32 Oz. Can)

Order online and pick up at Incredibly Delicious 925 S 7th 7:30 am – 3 pm

Feed Store pick up from 11 am – 3 pm M-F – see menu then call (217) 528-3355

Saputos will be doing curbside service from 11AM-7PM. 801 East Monroe. Check out the menu and call ahead (217) 544-2523.

Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet (DSI Member) – call for carryout/curbside orders at 217-793-1840. Through Friday, March 19, you can order a pastry to go with it for 25% off.

Jimmy John’s at 219 S 6th – order online

DiPiero’s Italian Restaurant – menu on Facebook then call (217) 572-1410.

DELIVERY

Cafe Moxo – order online – $30 minimum gets you free delivery

Custom Cup – order online

Arlington’s – via UberEats

Jerk Shop Go via Door Dash or via UberEats or via GrubHub

Maldaners – via GrubHub

Head West Subs – order online

La Piazza via Delivery.com

Tokyo Mini Mart & Wheels is a bicycle delivery service – book on Facebook

Anchors Away via DoorDash

Aztca via DoorDash

Incredibly Delicious – find out more

Feed Store via Delivery.com 

Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet (DSI Member) via UberEats or via GrubHub

Jimmy John’s – order online

How to Support Downtown Right Now

DSI is partnering with other Sangamon County economic development organizations to promote the use of www.SpringfieldZoom.com, a listing of business’ status across the whole county. The public can use it as a one-stop location to find out who is open, who is not, and who has gift certificates, takeout, etc.

Thanks to DSI member GoWeb1 | AlertsMadeEasy.com for providing this service as a donation during this crisis.

While you are staying at home, please continue to support local organizations by taking one of these actions:

-Buy Gift Certificates Online

-Order Restaurant Delivery or Curbside Pick Up for Yourself or a Friend – Check Out Our Handy List

-Support Your Friends in the Service Industry However You Can including donating to Staff Meals

-Donate to the Chamber Business Relief Fund (all Sangamon County businesses are eligible to apply for relief whether they are Chamber members or not)

-Donate Your Ticket Costs Back to the Venue if Event Has Been Cancelled

-Leave a glowing review online at your favorite establishments

-Promote your favorite establishments on social media

-Donate to Cultural Institutions

-Give to the new COVID-19 Response Fund to support non-profit, community-based organizations that have experience providing essential services and support to local residents (seeded by United Way and Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln)

-Help homeless individuals by giving to service providers like Helping Hands

-Be Mindful with Your Health and Health of Your Neighbors

Generous tipping when you are able to go out again is also very much appreciated. People working in Springfield’s very important hospitality industry don’t always get sick leave and very small businesses don’t have an army of staff.

This is going to be tough going for a while and our neighborhood appreciates your support!

Downtown Celebrates at Annual Awards Fundraiser

Emcees Mary Young and Mary Kate Smith from The Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company.

Downtown Springfield Inc. celebrated our 27th year as the organization where the downtown neighborhood comes together with a “roaring” Annual Dinner fundraiser at the Wyndham Springfield City Centre on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Thank you to our sponsors Watts Copy Systems, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Illinois REALTORS, Chick Fritz Distributing and Frye Williamson Press. Thank you to our Corporate Table sponsors: Bank of Springfield, Brown, Hay & Stephens LLP, Hanson Professional Services, Horace Mann, HSHS St. Johns Hospital, Kuhn & Trello, Memorial Medical Center, and US Bank.

Thanks to Kristi Mitchell Photography for serving as the night’s official photographer: https://photographybykristi.shootproof.com/gallery/11509326/

Approximately 500 attendees were welcomed by a video from Governor JB Pritzker to kick off the night, which included a great performance by The Gaslight Squares, who came up to jam from St. Louis.

The evening marked the official transition from the 2019 Board of Directors to the 2020 Board of Directors, with outgoing President Kevin Kuhn of Kuhn & Trello Consulting Engineers passing the gavel to Brian Wojcicki of Illinois Capitol Group.

Mayor Jim Langfelder celebrated his 60th birthday with his annual State of the Downtown address. John Charles from Southern Illinois University and Bruce Sommer of University of Illinois Springfield also gave the first joint public appearance concerning the universities’ plans to submit a proposal to Governor Pritzker to expand programs in the downtown neighborhood via an Innovation District.

The audience generously raised more than $33,000 on the spot for DSI’s newest program, Momentum on Main Street, which brings together a coalition of entities to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs, property developers and investors. Stay tuned for announcements regarding our 2020 plans for Momentum thanks to this generous outpouring.

Chef August Mrozowski of Augie’s Front Burner receives the 2019 Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chef August Mrozowski was honored with the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award. Augie started in the kitchen at the St. Nick’s alongside his father at age 14; helped start the Old Capitol Farmers Market as a chef seeking new farmers with fresh ingredients in the 90’s; has helped train other amazing local chefs such as Jordan Coffey of American Harvest and Corey Faucon of Long Nine Junction; and celebrated 22 years operating Augie’s Front Burner in 2019. Read this excellent profile of Augie by Jay Kitterman from The State Journal-Register.

Award nominees were recommended by the public and determined by a panel of DSI Past Presidents and active members. Here is a complete list of the businesses and individuals recognized as people and places making the most impact on the neighborhood in calendar year 2019:

Best Retail
Corrine’s Closet

Best Restaurant
La Piazza Cucina Italiana

Best Nightlife
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor

Best Event
Jaycees Holiday Lights Parade

Best Creative Promotion
Holiday Walks Trivia (The Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company)

Green Leadership
Susan Helm, Native Planters Project

Innovative Business Concept
Dumb Records

Best New Signage
Richards & Stehman

Best Interior Renovation
Brown Hay and Stephens

Best Public/Private Partnership
Levitt AMP Springfield
City of Springfield, Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation,
PNC Bank, Springfield Area Arts Council

Best Not for Profit Initiative
Farmers Market SNAP Outreach
Junior League of Springfield

Downtown Advocate
David Lee

Best Holiday Window (Voted by Public)
The Roost

Best Upper Story Renovation
Third Monroe LLC

Best Overall Renovation
Centre at 501

DSI Volunteer of the Year
Michael S. Johnson

Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award
August Mrozowski

Want to get involved in DSI as a volunteer or join as a member? Contact us!

Answering Your Pressing Questions: Downtown University Presence

Q: Does DSI want one or more universities to locate programs in the downtown neighborhood?

A: We sure do, and we’ve been on the record since at least 2013.  According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution, downtown higher ed programs outperform their peers, and have emerged as “key competitive differentiators” for cities. The study entitled, “Hidden in plain sight: The oversized impact of downtown universities,” highlights the important interplay between universities, startups, and local jobs. (Source: Why downtown universities help fuel the urban startup ecosystem)

The creation of downtown business incubator and social innovation hub Innovate Springfield by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln in 2015, which is now a part of UIS as of 2018, was the biggest step so far in a long dialogue. Innovate Springfield is now part of the Illinois Innovation Network, a State initiative led by the University of Illinois System to foster the breakthrough research, discovery, and entrepreneurship that drives progress, job creation and economic growth.

Q: Why has the conversation heated up now?

A: Governor Pritzker has been touring new downtown IIN hub locations in Chicago, Peoria and other cities and Springfield needs to finalize its location as well. UIS Chancellor Koch has been seeking a downtown location for more than a year.

Plus, the Governor and legislative caucuses passed a capital bill last year, which only comes around once a decade and includes potential funding for higher ed projects. Combining these two state funding streams could create an opportunity for University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University — the two largest higher ed systems in the state — to work more closely together in the areas of innovation and incubation.

This concept fits in brilliantly with what DSI has been preaching for a while — supporting and increasing the number of “Creatives in the Core” is the way to accelerate our local economy by supporting the businesses who are here and creating more jobs.

Q: I’ve read news reports by Bruce Rushton and Brenden Moore about a plan to locate potential buildings at the epicenter of 4th and Adams.  What’s up?

A: The staff of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance met with property owners from 2nd to 4th Street, and Monroe to Washington, to share their organization’s ideas about a preferred location for potential university programs.

The universities have not formally selected any location yet.

DSI has not yet provided a formal proposal to the universities, Governor Pritzker or Senator Andy Manar (chair of the Senate’s Appropriations II Committee), because we await information about needed square footage. However, we are now working with SSGA, AIA Illinois, Landmarks Illinois, and Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation to develop resources for the decision-makers when we, as a community, enter the final phase of determining the best location.

Those resources include analysis of other downtown neighborhoods across the nation that have a well-integrated higher ed presence, such as: Scott Community College in Davenport, IA; The University of Memphis in Tennessee; and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin.

No matter how quickly our proposals must gel together in the next few months, a process that includes transparent, collaborative community participation is vital.

Q: Where would a downtown university presence be located?

That has yet to be determined. The universities have not yet weighed in with space needs for programs or a preferred location(s).

It’s understandable why SSGA identified Fourth and Adams as an epicenter for any potential higher ed projects: it is near the State Capitol; who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the potential greenway left when Third Street rail ways are consolidated to 10th Street; and it is also an area that has already attracted private and city investment, and many new businesses, in the last decade, which would provide the “interplay” highlighted in the Brookings Institution report.

Q: What is guiding DSI’s participation in these conversations?

Downtown Springfield Inc is a nationally-accredited Main Street organization, a coalition of downtown businesses, and a champion for downtown investment for nearly 28 years. We have more than 150 business and non-profit members.

Our daily work is to celebrate and support the investment that entrepreneurs and residential developers have already made in the downtown neighborhood and to work to attract even more investment.

On December 12th, the DSI Board of Directors took this official position:

  • A vibrant university presence is invaluable to the long-term vitality of downtown Springfield.
  • In keeping with the strong sense of community that exists downtown, we believe transparent, collaborative stakeholder participation is instrumental in developing and nurturing a downtown university presence.
  • We look forward to working with all community partners to integrate the universities into downtown Springfield.

Downtown university programs could potentially turn surface parking lots into beautiful new buildings and vacant buildings into living laboratories. These gaps have previously been identified as black eyes in the SDAT Report, in the RUDAT report, and in the City’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan. It’s at least a good place to start the conversation about location.

As a neighborhood community, we are beyond excited to become the setting for Springfield’s “interplay” between small businesses, technology and higher ed research in the coming years. We look forward to working with the universities, as a community, to give Governor Pritzker a proposal he can get excited about, too.

Monthly Indoor Farmers Markets Start Saturday

Shoppers can find the perfect Illinois wine for their holiday table as part of the indoor Markets.

Springfield shoppers can still find locally grown, high-quality products during the winter months at one of six indoor Holiday/Winter Markets hosted by Downtown Springfield Inc. and made possible by HSHS St. John’s Hospital and other generous sponsors.

These cold-weather markets were started by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, who turned them over to DSI in 2019 under our Old Capitol Farmers Market umbrella, as we work to grow the demand for a year-round Farmers Market in downtown Springfield.

The first indoor Market is this Saturday, November 23rd from 9 am – noon, and there is one indoor Market each month through April. This year’s location is Anvil & Forge on 619 E Washington Street, which offers approximately 6,000 square feet for each Market, a much larger space than we have been able to utilize downtown previously.

The November and December, or “Holiday” Markets, are perfect for prepping for your holiday gatherings. With 35 vendors, shoppers can check out five meat vendors, five bakeries and eleven produce farms and more. Farm-fresh products include pasture-raised meats, eggs, honey, cheese, greens, carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes, apples, and winter squashes. Regionally-produced baked goods, Illinois wine, craft beer, coffee, and other unique local gifts are also available.

Find out if what you’re shopping for is available at the next indoor Market

Another happy customer!

While it’s often believed that farmers in central Illinois aren’t able to grow produce throughout the winter, advances in season-extension technology, such as hoop houses, have given farmers the ability to continue to grow products even in sub-freezing environments. Some crops, like spinach and kale, actually benefit from the colder temperatures, producing more sugars and a sweeter flavor.

THANKSGIVING TURKEY PRE-ORDERS

Customers looking to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey can pre-order from Garden Gate Farm. The turkeys are pasture-raised with non-GMO feed and range in size between 11 and 24 lbs. They are priced at $4.00/lb. and can be ordered via email or by phone 815-848-3518.

DOUBLE VALUE LINK PROGRAM

LINK cards are accepted, and the Double Value Program offered by the Old Capitol Farmers Market is still available thanks to grants from the State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Program and LinkUp Illinois. LINK recipients will receive a $25 match to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. This means LINK recipients can swipe their card for $25 and receive an additional $25 to use on produce, doubling their purchasing power and making wholesome holiday meals available to families across Springfield.

PARKING

Parking is free on the streets of downtown Springfield during the indoor markets and the parking garage next to the Convention Center is one block away.

UPCOMING DATES

The indoor Market dates are: Saturday, December 21; Saturday, January 18; Saturday, February 15; Saturday, March 21; and Saturday, April 18.

MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SPONSORS

The Old Capitol Farmers Market is a free, 12 month activity that is organized by Downtown Springfield Inc., in partnership with premier sponsor HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Other sponsors include Development Services Group, Community Bankers Association of Illinois, State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Grant Program, LinkUp Illinois, Junior League of Springfield, Bank of Springfield, The Baker Group, SpringfieldMoms.org, West Central Bank, Davis Financial Group, Central Baptist Church and the City of Springfield.

Halloween Comes Early Downtown

Especially on Saturday, October 26, this year’s Halloween activities in the downtown neighborhood provide…an overwhelming number of choices! Whether you have kids, still feel like a kid, or want to be away from kids, we have you covered. Read on and get your costumes finalized!

Halloween at the Market 9-12:30 pm

Wrap up the summer season with what Illinois Times readers call the “Best Reason to Visit Downtown” – the Old Capitol Farmers Market. DSI, SpringfieldMoms.org, Bank of Springfield and friends host this annual free event, which includes costume contests (with cash prizes) for kids, families and dogs. Free kids activities. See who’s selling this day at the Market.

Halloween at Kidzeum 10 am – 5 pm

Come play with fun, Halloween-themed activities going on all day PLUS $1 off the price of admission for anyone in costume.

Halloween Carnival at the Hoogland 11 am – 5 pm

This family-friendly carnival that supports the Young Artist Fund for scholarships has grown BIGGER this year with haunted houses for older kids and a special “Frozen” Haunted House for younger kids. Enjoy carnival booths with prizes and candy, performances of your favorite Halloween songs and check out everyone’s costumes.

Parents, relax and enjoy a fall beverage while the kids experience The Frog Jump, Toy Story Plinko, Pin the Heart on the Tin Man, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Trick or Treat at the Governor’s Mansion & City Safe Halloween Event on the Y Block 4 – 6 pm

These free events include generous amounts of candy, the ability to climb through the city’s large vehicles and more. Plus check out the Great Pumpkin Display while trick-or-treating at the Governor’s Mansion.

Nu-Voh Celebrates First Anniversary and Gives You 20% Off 4 – 10 pm

An adult way to celebrate the holiday weekend. Enjoy drink specials as well. Entree selections include a 16-ounce bone-in pork chop, gnocchi, 8-ounce filet mignon, 10-ounce grilled sirloin and pan-seared salmon or tuna.

Trick or Treat at the Old State Capitol 5-7 pm

More candy and fun activities before the parade starts!

The Incubator Celebrates First Anniversary with Halloween Bash 5 pm – 3 am

The Incubator is hosting its 2nd Annual Halloween party, featuring some of its favorite bands and DJs plus its new late night menu and drink specials.

Family Friendly Italian Dinner 6-9 pm

Grab some dinner and also stop by La Piazza Cucina Italiana on 6th Street to pick up coupons for kids 12 and under, to enjoy a slice of cheese pizza and soft drink for only $1.

Monsters Ball at 7 pm

Sangamo Club is hosting this special event for members and their guests.

The Parent Place 3rd Annual Halloween Parade at 7:30 pm

Check out the Beetlejuice-themed float by Downtown Springfield businesses and 41 other spooky, lighted entries.

Rocky Horror 10th Anniversary Show at 8 pm and 11:30 pm

So awesome, one of the performers had her eyelids still stuck together with glitter the next morning. ADHD Productions and HCFTA present the famous rock and roll musical about a “Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania” live on stage.

Check out other coming downtown activities on our calendar.

DSI Supports the Center for Health & Housing

The DSI Board of Directors, representing 150 business members in the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods, unanimously supports the proposed Center for Health and Housing.

It is true that Downtown Businesses are often the most adversely affected by the perceptions of visitors to a large homeless population. Yet what we believe is most compelling about the proposed Center is that it doesn’t just “move the problem around;” its approach will actually break the cycle of homelessness. This is a win for these individuals and a win for our community at large.

In addition, the Center makes sense fiscally, and will save our community thousands of dolalrs in emergency, police and other services. The selected site is located near other social agency resources and is within walking distance of the downtown hub where many individuals experiencing homelessness spend a considerable amount of time. The selected site has been vacant, there is no other tenant on the horizon, and it is perfectly suited for this purpose.

The Center for Health and Housing is a huge step forward for our community’s response to homelessness and we should embrace this opportunity to transform our approach.

To download our statement of support.

To follow the Center for Health and Housing on Facebook.

To educate yourself on the myths and stereotypes about people experiencing homelessness.

Music Series Fostered Community Pride and Spurred Positive Conversation about the Y Block

Not surprisingly, the number one reason that attendees to this summer’s Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC Bank would return to the south side of the Y Block was for a permanent bandshell or concert venue.

More than 7,700 people attended the ten-week, free music series held on the vacant lot adjacent to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion hosted by organizers Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield Inc and Springfield Area Arts Council. The two goals for the local organizers, which won them a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation, were to bring Springfield’s diverse neighborhoods together in one central location, and to bring the public into the discussion about the future of the Y Block.

Local partners jumped on board, with PNC Bank leading the way as premier sponsor of the series. Other top sponsors included Isringhausen Imports, Illinois REALTORS, US Bank, LRS and the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. Top in-kind sponsors included all three radio groups coming together under the Radio Matters banner, Springfield Park District, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Star Graphics, Republic Services, and the City of Springfield, who made physical improvements to the space so that people could bring blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts and provided waste and police services.

Nearly five hundred attendees took the time to fill out a survey about their desires for the future of the block and their downtown habits. The next three most popular responses for “reasons why you would return regularly” were, in order, food truck park, gardens, and/or a dog park.

Download the Levitt Music Series Attendee Count & Survey Analysis

The goal to provide an inclusive, safe place for all members of the community to come together was accomplished. This year’s attendees generally mirrored the demographics of the City of Springfield, according to the US Census. To personally invite African American families to the series, we partnered with UAct, a local non-profit, who made a total of 117 contacts with people in 59 east side entities. The Latino attendance was actually a higher percentage than Springfield’s Latino population, thanks to outreach by Salsa Ambassador Julio Barrenzuela. The Asian population was somewhat underrepresented.

Photo Credit: Brian Bowles

The family-friendly atmosphere was evident. Nearly 60 percent of surveyed attendees came with their family. Forty-seven percent came with friends. More than a quarter of surveyed attendees brought at least one child with them to the concerts. And tellingly, eight percent of those surveyed came by themselves, which indicates the venue felt safe and welcoming.

Regarding the future of the block, the City Council recently passed an ordinance which supports placing a downtown campus of UIS and SIU on or near the Y Block.

Springfield intends to submit a renewal application for a 2020 Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, which is due September 20. Follow Levitt AMP Springfield to stay up to date.

Downtown Springfield Inc has a policy position on the future of the Y Block. Read it here: North Mansion Block Updated 2019 Policy

Got an Idea? We’ve Got Momentum On Main Street

DSI is a Main Street organization, which means it organizes it activities around four pillars of revitalization: Design, Promotions, Organization and Economic Vitality.

Today’s Downtown Springfield knows that growth will only happen by undertaking economic development activities that fill the smaller vacant properties and build new foot traffic, activities that have also attracted a new generation of volunteers to work alongside DSI staff to #GSD.  

Momentum on Main Street is an initiative that grew out of DSI’s Economic Vitality committee earlier this year to help educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers.

“We really aimed to highlight and build off the positives that are already happening downtown,” said David Lee, a medical salesperson and downtown revitalization advocate who chairs the Momentum committee. “We’ve quickly gotten a lot of interest; it obviously was a message people could get behind. We’re hoping the workshops, conversations, and connections that are happening will give people the tools, and confidence, to do their project or business that they’ve been dreaming about.”

The Momentum on Main Street launch event was held March 21 at Arlington’s. More than 100 people attended to hear from current business owners about their experiences setting up shop in the downtown district and to network. All of the attendees to this free event, sponsored by the City of Springfield and US Bank, were invited to apply for scholarships either to take their business concept to the next level, or to attend an Incremental Development Alliance workshop to learn how to take on a property redevelopment without using subsidies.

CO.STARTERS SCHOLARSHIPS

Attendees at the kick-off event had the opportunity to apply for a Co.Starters scholarship, sponsored by US Bank. Co.Starters is a national nine-week program that began in Chattanooga, TN to help communities “build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems by equipping them with the best tools and resources needed.” Co.Starters in Springfield is hosted by Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator located in the heart of downtown.

Then in June, Innovate Springfield hosted their first Co.Starters Pitch Event to hear from the ten participants in the first cohort. Five of the Co.Starters cohort members received the US Bank scholarships as part of the Momentum on Main Street program:

  • Sarah Stahly – Sweet Scoops
  • Patrick Russell – Curtain & Leaf
  • Dayton Burntett – Trans4orm
  • Liz Hiller – Thirsty’s Taproom
  • Thomas Phinney –  Cafe on the Rocks

Three of the Momentum “scholars” are looking to create new brick-and-mortar experiences. Sarah Stahly began her business Sweet Scoops by looking to put a unique spin on ice cream. Her ice cream choices include non-dairy and vegan. She uses substitutes like coconut milk and almond milk to make delicious flavor combinations such as Strawberry Banana & Ruby Basil or Chocolate Peanut Butter Fried Banana.

Liz Hiller had the idea for Thirsty’s Taproom, a crossroads for everything craft beer, after living in places like Chicago and North Carolina and experiencing their craft beer scene. Lately, Central Illinois has caught the craft beer bug and the movement has centered in downtown with spots like Obed & Isaac’s, Buzz Bomb Brewing Co., and Anvil & Forge Brewing. Thirsty’s Taproom would serve as a spot for patrons to try all of their favorite craft beers in one location. Thirsty’s Taproom would be a family friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on enjoying great beer and community.

Thomas Phinney, an avid rock climbing expert, and his wife Ruth plan to open an indoor “bouldering cafe” in downtown. On The Rocks Bouldering would help increase Springfield’s knowledge of bouldering, which is rock climbing without the assistance of a harness. Ultimately the business would lead regular bouldering tours in the western U.S. 

DSI’s Momentum on Main Street will be providing five more scholarships for the next Co.Starters cohort in September. If you have a great new business idea and are ready to do the work to make it a reality, fill out the application now.

FREE FOLLOW UP SESSIONS

Since the launch event, DSI has held one-hour informational sessions on a variety of related subjects, with the goal of hosting six related topics during 2019. The first covered how to start your business by selling at the Farmers Market. The second was hosted at the Lincoln Public Library and featured a panel of city staff demystifying the process of permits and licensing. 

The third Momentum on Main Street event was an interactive walking tour led by architect and owner of Square Root Architecture + Design, Jeff Sommers, to help participants discern what is needed when one buys a downtown building. He was joined by a banker and two realtors. Mark Nelson and Ed Mahoney are with Re/Max professionals. Ed has worked as a realtor in Springfield for over 30 years and was on the founding board for DSI. 

The next Momentum free session is on July 30th at Anvil and Forge Brewing. The session will be led by Lauren Silkowski of US Bank and Lashonda Fitch of Justine Petersen and will provide attendees with ideas for how to achieve financing for a business start-up. More details to follow.

 

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