From The Ground, Leon
Heidi Bell and her husband are fourth generation farmers in Decatur County who are committed to sustaining rural Iowa communities and rural economic development. In 2009, with help from the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwestern Community College, Heidi purchased a storefront on the town square in Leon, population 1977, and opened a coffee house named “From The Ground.”
Heidi’s primary motivations for starting From The Ground were to open a restaurant/coffee house that would serve an unmet need in the community, offer a gathering place (especially for women) with a homey, friendly atmosphere and great customer service, provide a venue for local entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their wares, and offer a place for community and school activities and events. From the Ground’s storefront includes a bookstore, a bakery, and a gift shop that sells locally-made jewelry, art, crafts, wood working and more, all owned and operated by Leon area women.
Regional SBDC Director Dave McLaren began working with Heidi in August 2009. Today, From The Ground is a thriving and successful business with seven employees. Heidi’s employees are a team and she treats them like family. They work full- or part-time based on their needs and hers. They are dedicated and hard-working and contribute greatly to Heidi’s success.
Dave McLaren believes every community in rural Iowa needs someone like Heidi who is totally committed to her community. Heidi tries to order and purchase many products locally and is an advocate for local businesses, referring potential customers to them. She is actively involved in her community, serving as President of the Leon Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Leon Community Development Corporation Board.
Heidi led the marketing efforts for Leon by building a website, addressing dilapidated housing, creating a community vision/mission statement, and helping others develop their “30 second commercial” to promote the community. She is also a church youth group education director, a member of the Leon Hospital Board, a Little League sponsor, and a 4-H leader. Heidi supports local businesses by serving as a mentor to new business owners, providing insight into advertising services, web development, and promoting the local Chamber. Heidi truly “wants to see Leon thrive, not just survive.”
For more information on this community-minded entrepreneur, visit www.fromthegroundcoffee.com. We congratulate Heidi for being chosen as our 2013 Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award winner!
Highlights from Heidi’s Special Award Day!
Leon business woman Heidi Bell received the 2013 Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Awardfrom the Iowa Small Business Development Center because of her business success and for significantly changing and improving her life and the lives of others, especially in her community of Leon, Iowa. Heidi, the owner of From the Ground, a wonderful coffee house and meeting place in Leon, had a full day of excitement and honors on March 4, 2014 at the State Capitol in Des Moines.
At approximately 8:40 a.m., Heidi sat in a place of honor inside the House Chambers and listened as the Iowa House read a resolution into law honoring her and another SBDC award winner, and praising the Iowa SBDC for its good work across Iowa. She was then presented with a House Certificate of Achievement while family and friends watched. In the photo below, from left to right, are: Representative MaryAnn Hanusa, Representative Kirsten Running Marquardt, Hadley Bell, Representative Joel Fry, Heidi Bell, Lance Bell and Riley Bell.
Immediately following the presentation of the certificate, Heidi was escorted to the “well” where the Speaker of the House sits to conduct business in the House Chamber. In the picture below Heidi is sitting in the Speaker’s chair and behind her, from left to right, are Representative Roger Thomas, Representative Tom Shaw, Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner Mike Sexton, Representative MaryAnn Hanusa, Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, and Representative Joel Fry.
Shortly thereafter, Heidi, her family, and others were escorted to the Iowa Senate Gallery where she and the SBDC’s other award winner, Mike Sexton, were recognized and applauded by the Senate. In the two pictures below, Heidi and Mike smile for the camera just after sitting down in the Gallery, and then they stand for the Senate’s applause.
Next on the agenda, Heidi and her family met with Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds in the Governor’s formal office. The Governor and Lt. Governor warmly congratulated Heidi for her success and the special recognition she was receiving. In the picture below, from left to right, are: SBDC Regional Director Dave McLaren (who assisted Heidi with her business), Lance Bell, Heidi Bell, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Riley Bell, Hadley Bell and Governor Branstad.
A short time later, Heidi’s official Iowa SBDC Award Ceremony took place. SBDC Regional Director Dave McLaren (speaking below) spoke about Heidi and how she and her business have made a significant impact in her small community (pop. 1977) of Leon. Listening to Dave speak, from left to right below, are: Iowa SBDC Interim State Director Ted Bair, Iowa State University College of Business Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding, Dave McLaren, Heidi Bell, Senator Amy Sinclair, Representative Joel Fry, Senator Bill Dotzler, and Senator Daryl Beall.
After Dave finished, Heidi spoke briefly about her business and how the SBDC helped her start and grow it into the success it is today. She was then presented with her Deb Dalziel Women Entrepreneur Achievement Award plaque. Pictured below participating in the award presentation were, from left to right: Iowa SBDC Interim State Director Ted Bair, SBDC Regional Director Dave McLaren, Senator Bill Dotzler, Heidi Bell, Senator Amy Sinclair, Representative Joel Fry, Senator Daryl Beall, and Iowa State University College of Business Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding.
To wrap up Heidi’s special day, Heidi was presented with a Certificate of Achievement from the Iowa Senate. Participating in the presentation were, from left to right: Iowa SBDC Interim State Director Ted Bair, SBDC Regional Director Dave McLaren, Senator Bill Dotzler, Heidi Bell, Senator Amy Sinclair, Representative Joel Fry, Senator Daryl Beall, and Iowa State University College of Business Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding.