Dubuque receives grant to develop online tool for visitors, busi - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque receives grant to develop online tool for visitors, businesses

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Pretend you're visiting a city and suddenly start craving a cup of coffee. Where do you go?

A new online resource in Dubuque wants to point people in that situation to the right spots.

Dubuque Main Street received a business innovation grant Thursday from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The $12,500 grant, which Dubuque Main Street must now match, will go toward developing and launching a new website for the city's downtown businesses.

The interactive tool will help connect visitors with local businesses and, in turn, help those businesses market themselves.

Jonathan McCoy co-owns McCoy Goldsmith and Jewelers on Dubuque's Main Street. He has helped lead the charge to secure this grant and is excited to see the online tool help the area.

"What it's going to basically put together for the downtown community is a virtual showcase of businesses and services and available properties," McCoy said. "Kind of on the business retention side, where we're keeping the businesses open, it's going to direct visitors and residents alike to shops, service locations, gas stations, libraries, whatever they may need downtown, they'll have an online, mobile directory that will get them there."

He said, this will be especially helpful to people visiting Dubuque for, say, a conference at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque.

"They walk out of the conference and it's, 'I need lunch, I need a hotel, I need gas-- I need these things,' and in general they want something close, so we really developed this product, this online site, to showcase the downtown businesses," McCoy said.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority also awarded a business innovation grant to seven other cities, including Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids and West Branch.

Jim Thompson is a business consultant with Main Street Iowa, through the Iowa Economic Development Authority. He said the total pot of money was $100,000, and each of the eight cities received between $5,000 and $20,000.

Cedar Falls, he said, is using its grant money to develop shared office space in its downtown area.

Cedar Rapids is using its money to help a revolving loan fund in the Czech Village area.

West Branch is developing a phone app with its grant money, Thompson said.

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