CBJ Report: Eastern Iowa Airport's rideshare rules kick in with Lyft agreement

Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS 2 News. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

Eastern Iowa Airport's rideshare rules kick in with Lyft agreement

The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission has approved an agreement with rideshare company Lyft Inc. to operate at Eastern Iowa Airport.

The commission approved the one-year agreement at its Monday meeting. It is the first agreement with a transportation network company (TNC) the commission has approved since the airport's rules and regulations were revised to provide parameters for rideshare companies.

Lyft previously announced plans to enter the Iowa market with Cedar Rapids and Des Moines service.

Under the airport's rules, Lyft will pay the commission a one-time $1,000 permit fee to operate at the airport. TNCs operating at the airport are required to use an app-based service that implements geo-fencing, or a virtual boundary, around the airport. The TNC will pay the commission a $2 per pick-up fee, paid monthly. The pick-up fee amount is consistent with what other airports of a similar size have implemented.

Drivers are prohibited from loitering on airport property and must wait outside the geo-fence until they have arranged a customer pick-up. Drivers will pick up passengers in a designated area on the east side of the terminal in the Ground Transportation area.

Having agreements in place with TNCs provides more ground transportation options for customers, Airport Director Marty Lenss said in a press release. The airport is presently served by taxi service, shuttles and limousines.

TLC opening call center in Dominican Republic

Thomas L. Cardella Associates, which has already opened one call center this year, will open its first international location next month in the Dominican Republic.

The Cedar Rapids-based provider of business process outsourcing and contact center services opened its fourth Iowa call center in Ottumwa on Jan. 23. The center is expected to have 80 employees hired by the end of this month, and is on the way to an expected peak of 150.

Thomas L. Cardella Associates (TLC) is one of the 12 largest contact center and business process outsourcing companies in the United States.

Mr. Cardella said costs in the Dominican Republic are about 40 percent lower than the United States, and will provide a foundation upon which to win more business.

The new center in Santiago, the Dominican Republic's second-largest city, will open March 13 with 20 employees. The leased contact center facility has 180 seats, with room for expansion if needed.

Brewhemia buys stake in Tama-based Specialty Coffee roaster

Tama-based Ross Street Roasting Co. has sold an ownership stake to Cedar Rapids-based Brewhemia, a Specialty/Third Wave coffee shop.

Ross Street Roasting had been supplying Brewhemia with a percentage of its coffee since early 2016, and the idea for a deeper partnership was brought up late in the year. The investment will enable Ross Street Roasting to grow more quickly, according to founder Brian Gumm. The size and the terms of the ownership stake were not disclosed.

Brewhemia both brews Ross Street Roasting coffee for customers and sells it in packaged form. In a press release, co-owner Steve Shriver called Ross Street Roasting "a great fit," citing well aligned roasting styles and business philosophies.

Specialty coffee is a rapidly growing market within the global coffee trade. It is based on a quality scoring system developed by the international trade group, the Specialty Coffee Association. Third Wave Coffee is a movement that uses Specialty-grade coffees as a starting point, and applies quality-centric roasting and brewing methods to bring out their flavors.

Ross Street Roasting Co.'s product line includes both single-origin coffees and blends intended for drip brewers or espresso machines. Coffee is sourced through a Specialty coffee importer in the region, and they also maintain a direct trade relationship with a grower and processor in Nicaragua, Gold Mountain Coffee Growers.

Wit’s End marks 10 years of brewing up business

Wit’s End Coffeehouse, a fixture of Uptown Marion’s small business scene, celebrated a decade in business this week.

Opened by Deb Witte in a 150-year-old house at 630 10th St., Wit’s End has built a dedicated base of customers thanks to its eclectic design, laid-back atmosphere and baked-from-scratch scones and rolls.

Current owner Cathy Petersen and her husband Tom were introduced to the shop in 2009, and Ms. Petersen began baking in small batches for the shop that summer. Ms. Witte “got the bug to sell the shop” that fall, and the Petersens saw it as a chance to fulfill a long-held interest in owning a small business.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity, and event if it didn’t work, we thought it would be a good lesson for our kids,” Ms. Petersen said. “Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried.”

The shop has thrived since then, growing from a staff of two to eight, and tripling its sales over its first year in business. Ms. Petersen, who holds the title of chief coffee brewer and scone bakers, gave much of the credit to her staff, and the support the shop receives from fellow merchants in Marion’s business community.

The shop will be offering anniversary specials throughout the year at both its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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