Fresh Ideas, New Businesses Prove We've Got Something Going Here

Nick Meyer

It’s been a strong year for new business ideas in downtown Eau Claire, and it looks like 2018 could shape up nicely as well as momentum continues to build. One metric to watch is the annual Jump-Start Downtown Business Competition. Each year Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated (DECI) holds the contest wherein brand new or yet-to-open businesses apply to win $5,000 of start-up capital and a number of other handy offerings including advertising, brand consulting, and more. While many great businesses launch without ever entering the contest, some of downtown’s most well known establishments have been in top prize slots in the past including The Brewing Projekt, Smiling Moose Deli, Latitude 44 Yoga, and just last year, Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor. Held on Oct. 10, the competition was fierce this year as six particularly buzz-worthy contenders vied for the prize – a group that in my opinion was among the strongest the contest has ever seen. There was the recently opened retailer and coffee counter Northbound Supply Company; the Banbury-based aerial yoga and circus arts studio Moonrise Aerials; two spaces currently under construction, SHIFT Cyclery & Coffee Bar and a substantial new yoga studio above Houligan's called Sky Yoga; one pop-up retailer looking to open a permanent space in 2018, Dotters Books; and the first-place winner, the freshly opened specialty running store, Blue Ox Running. Seeing a crop of businesses like these pushing their ideas forward and out into the world is a powerful thing. Each one is adding to the growing vibe in this community, and each one deserves a look from locals who want to see our entrepreneurial culture here thrive.

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