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Spotlight Businesses

A Class All Their Own: Two Partnership Leaders Earn ED Master Practitioner Status


Let’s give it up for two key and committed leaders in our Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership: Paula Hazlewood, executive director, Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, and Andrew Rainbolt, executive director, Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation. 

Paula and Andrew are now certified Economic Development Master Practitioners – two of only 42 people in the U.S. to hold this designation. Both recently graduated from the first-ever Advanced Economic Development Leadership (AEDL) program, a two-week executive education course...

Courtyard Hotel to Open in Council Bluffs Iowa and in El Paso Texas

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA - Courtyard by Marriott Omaha East/Council Bluffs is set to open its doors in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, August 3, 2018. Featuring an innovative lobby space as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, the new hotel provides flexibility and choices that allow guests to optimize and elevate their travel experience. 

Located at 2501 Bass Pro Drive, the 131-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise, managed by Imagine Resorts and Hotels, LLC. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard Omaha East/Council Bluffs offers guests convenient access to the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Mid-America Center, the Iowa West Field House, and the Harrah’s, Ameristar and Horseshoe Casinos.

Iowa hints at how it became a nation-leading wind powerhouse

By | June 8, 2018

Eat your heart out, California, but little middle-of-America Iowa is closer to hitting the halfway mark to 100% powered by wind than you are.

MidAmerican’s recently announced around its new Wind XII project which will position the company to hit its 100% renewable energy goal and significantly contribute to Iowa’s ongoing leadership in renewable energy. This will further its trajectory to become the first state to generate 40% of its electricity from wind. Iowa currently generates over 36% of its electricity from wind power, ranking first in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation...

Warren Distribution looks at $12.8 million expansion in Council Bluff

  Tuesday, June 12, 2018 

Warren Distribution is looking at a $12.8 million expansion in Council Bluffs.

The Omaha-based company teamed with the City of Council Bluffs and Advance Southwest Iowa on Monday to announce plans for a proposed 211,000 square-foot expansion to its location in the 2800 block of River Road that would create up to 30 jobs...

Timing and Locations of Laborshed Studies Released


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) agreed to finance a Laborshed Study for one community in every county across the state of Iowa – FREE to local economic development organizations and their partners.

A Laborshed Study is based upon the commuting area of a particular employment center. Each county’s largest employment center will be selected as the focus of the study conducted in that county.

A Laborshed Study is unlike any other readily available labor market information. It is produced on the local level through primary data collection. After the commuting pattern for a particular city/community is defined (through a survey of local employers), a residential survey is conducted into the communities determined to be the largest contributors to that city’s workforce. This survey gathers information regarding the skills, education, availability, wages and benefits (both current and desired), job search resources used, distance willing to commute and many other factors that relate to that area’s true labor pool.

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A Woman's World

 Tamara Brunow felt career advancement was out of her reach. She was being pigeonholed and passed over as a woman working in the male-dominated construction industry — a field where women usually work as administrative assistants or in marketing and sales. Continue Reading

spotlight businesses

The Hub Expands Options for Family-Friendly Entertainment

Some of the best business ideas center around solving a problem. A mom who was fed up with the lack of family entertainment options in Council Bluffs created her own alternative.

The Hub opened in May and has been consistently busy ever since, according to owner Brooke Hubbard. She and her husband Jeff, along with partners Leo and Nikki McIntosh, invested nearly $3 million to renovate the expansive facility. It features two trampoline parks, including one designed especially for young children, as well as a coffee shop, concession stand and day care.

Hubbard has been married for 16 years and has four children. She says family-friendly entertainment options in Council Bluffs were previously limited to a bowling alley and a movie theater. She had to drive to Omaha to reach the nearest trampoline park or bring her kids to tumbling and cheerleading activities.

When the local YMCA building came up for sale, Hubbard realized it was an opportunity. “I knew all the other mothers like me didn’t want to make the 40 minute drive to take their kids to activities in Omaha,” she says. “I understood the need the community had for family entertainment options — to be able to stay in town is huge.”

Besides recreational trampoline jumping, The Hub offers open gym and tumbling classes for children of all ages. It also hosts Elite Cheer, which has advanced training for competitive cheerleading.

The wide variety of activities means kids of all ages can find something to suit them. Hubbard points out that The Hub can serve as a great after school activity for the whole family, where kids can be active and parents can relax with a book or bring a laptop to take advantage of the free wifi.

The Hub caters to families on the go with its concession stand, which has items like hamburgers, french fries and chicken nuggets as well as pizzas made in-house. “I know how it is being a parent and going to activities for the kids. A lot of times it’s directly from work and there’s no time to grab something to eat,” explains Hubbard. “The Hub Grind coffee shop offers a pick me up for parents.”

The business fills another niche by offering children’s birthday party packages. “Before that there was nowhere to go to have a birthday party and rent a small party room, besides at a restaurant,” says Hubbard. “Our concept is family-friendly, fun and light hearted, which works well for birthday parties.”

Since the facility previously was a YMCA, which already had the space for a licensed day care, Hubbard says adding Jumping Monkeys Childcare made sense. It can serve up to 36 children, ranging in age from 2 to 6 years old. “We really wanted to have super active day care, kids can go upstairs into the trampoline park and run around in a huge space, even in bad weather,” says Hubbard.

One especially unique aspect of The Hub is its affordability. Hubbard notes that most franchise trampoline parks charge a daily fee that would be prohibitive for families interested in regular use. The Hubbards chose to be independently owned, in part, so that they can charge monthly membership fees as a gym would.

For $40 a month, kids can jump for two hours each day at the trampoline park. The regular fee for two hours is $21, which means with two days of use, the membership pays for itself. Family memberships are available for $99. “A lot of members come in five days a week. It’s a win-win. We figured if we’re open, we might as well fill up,” says Hubbard, adding that this saves parents hundreds of dollars.

The community response to The Hub has been “above and beyond what we expected,” according to Hubbard. “There’s really not a slow time. We thought it would be slow in the summer but it was extremely busy.”

The Hub employs between 60-65 people, most who are under 18. Hubbard says since it’s hard for kids to find opportunities in Council Bluffs, the business is filling a need in this area as well.

A number of residents have already thanked Hubbard for opening The Hub. “It’s been rewarding to see people supporting the building and the project,” she says. One area 5-year-old called The Hub his “favorite place in the world,” which made her especially proud. “I’m raising my family here and it’s neat to have an impact on what kids remember — to be part of their memories.

EQ School of Hair Design: Cultivating Cosmetology Professionals


Cosmetology jobs are expected to grow about 14 percent between now and the year 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. It’s an appealing field, particularly for those who want opportunities for flexibility and self-employment.

Council Bluffs has been home to a cosmetology school for 55 years. It began as Stewart School of Hair Design and later became EQ School of Hair Design.

Owners Craig and Julie Mead bought the business in 2004 and have operated it ever since. For 20 years, the school has been located downtown. At the end of July, it will move into the former Peterson Elementary School.

The new location has more space and is easier to access, according to Craig, because of better parking and proximity to the interstate. The new space will have an improved layout as well, as it was remodeled specifically for the cosmetology school.

The EQ School of Hair Design is a nationally accredited. The Meads developed their own “EQ Stars” program to supplement their objective to train students to be professionals when they graduate. “Highly successful people have some particular traits,” Craig explains.

Students and staff are expected to live up to give key principles that include the Golden Rule of treating others as you would like to be treated and emphasize characteristics like honesty, integrity, professionalism, innovation and quality.

“Everything we do is for the education of the student. We provide education to get students ready for a professional career,” says Craig.

The school employs 10 people. The Meads have a habit of giving back to the community. They’re involved near-monthly events that benefit nonprofits or those who are less fortunate.

EQ School of Hair Design students have provided hair styling services to high school seniors attending area proms who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to get their hair done. Many times, the monthly specials are tied into giving events where customers receive a discount if they bring in a donation. The school is currently collecting school supplies for Children’s Square. Before that it was collecting items for the local animal shelter.

The school has seven start dates each year, which translates to an enrollment of approximately 50 students. Tuition costs $18,750 for the 14-month program.

It boasts an impressive job placement rate in the 90th percentile. The remainder of graduates that aren't placed immediately in a job are typically choosing taking time off to raise families, according to Craig.

Although men are entering cosmetology at higher rates than the past, the majority of graduates from the program are women. Craig points out that cosmetology is a unique industry in that it allows anyone a chance to control their own destinies. “Students can pick where they want to go and how hard they want to work. There aren’t many industries that allow people to do that.”

Tish’s Restaurant: A Favorite Among Locals and Tourists Alike

The restaurant industry is infamously fickle. Most restaurants fail within their first five years. When a restaurant manages to survive for decades, you know its owners have carefully created the right recipe for success.

Steve and Kathy Tisher started their foray into food entrepreneurism in 1980. The husband and wife team served up seasonal ice cream treats and sandwiches for 15 years at Tish’s, which was a walk-up window in Council Bluffs.

The success of that venture led them to open up a full-fledged restaurant in 1995. 

Tish’s Restaurant soon became a local favorite of residents of Council Bluffs and Omaha. “There were 40 restaurants in Council Bluffs when we started. Now there are over 120,” says Kathy. “And we’re ranked in the top 10.” 

Kathy attributes the restaurant’s popularity and longevity to quality food, staff and customer service. “Everything is homemade from scratch. Soups are homemade and sauces are made from scratch. We cut our own steaks and chicken,” she says. “Our signature chili has won accolades.” 

The eatery has a full bar and a dining area that seats 80 people. During warmer months, Tish’s covered outdoor patio, which also accommodates 80, is an area hot spot. A separate banquet room can seat up to 70 people and is a popular setting for graduation parties, weddings, baby showers and retirement parties. 

Tish’s Restaurant employs 20 people. Kathy gives a lot of credit to their “awesome staff” and says they work hard to cultivate a culture of respect in the workplace. It appears to be working. Several of the kitchen staff have worked at the restaurant for more than a decade. One employee just retired after 22 years.

The restaurant attracts tourists. “We’re in a hub area of the entertainment district, near the casino so we get an enormous amount of travelers,” says Kathy. 

Tish’s also enjoys a solid local base of support. “We are incredibly fortunate to have regular customers who have been with us since back in our ice cream days,” says Kathy. “Some of them come for lunch a couple of times each week. We're so thankful for their business and that of new customers too."

The Tishers are grateful for the relationships they’ve developed over the years through the restaurant. “My husband and I were born and raised here — this is our community,” Kathy says. “It’s great to have all the community support.”

Kathy does her part to give back to the community. She has served on the local chamber of commerce board in the past. She currently chairs the Jennie Edmundson Foundation board at the hospital and sits on the Council Bluffs Public Library Foundation board.