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CBJ REPORT: Gander Mountain buyer tweets joint store plan for Cedar Rapids

Gander Mountain buyer tweets joint store plan for Cedar Rapids

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.

Gander Mountain buyer tweets joint store plan for Cedar Rapids

The twitterati were the first to hear it: Gander Mountain will stay in Cedar Rapids, joined by a Camping World retail outlet at its new location in NorthTowne Market.

Camping World Chairman and CEO Marcus Lemonis is using Twitter to announce the company's future plans for at least some of the store locations the RV supply retailer acquired through the bankruptcy of Gander Mountain.

"I will have @GanderMtn store updates over the next two days. #CedarRapids will be a joint @CampingWorld @GanderMtn at the new location," Mr. Lemonis tweeted on Tuesday.

The new location is a 52,000-square-foot anchor store at the new NorthTowne Market retail center that was built to replace a 31,000-square-foot store Gander Mountain plans to close at the recently-sold Westwood Plaza at 2400 Edgewood Road SW. It's been vacant, as Gander Mountain's assets were reorganized.

Gander Mountain, a chain of 162 outdoor sports stores, filed March 9 for Chapter 11 protection from its creditors and said it would seek a buyer. Illinois-based Camping World was the successful bidder on many Gander Mountain assets, including its Overton's boat business.

In a March press release, Mr. Lemonis said Camping World is obligated to assume a minimum of 17 Gander Mountain leases, but beyond that, its agreement allows it to operate Gander Mountain stores and retain employees "at a number to maximize profitability."

Chicago group eyes purchase of Sheraton Iowa City, hotelVetro

Owners of the Sheraton Iowa City and hotelVetro are expected to close on a sale of the hotels next month, with plans to rebrand the Sheraton under the Graduate Hotels flag.

The two hotels are presently owned by RockBridge Capital, a hospitality-focused investment firm headquartered in Ohio, and Davidson Hotel Company, a Memphis-based hotel management and development company that purchased the Sheraton in 2008.

The following year, the company initiated an $11 million renovation that updated the Sheraton's 234 guest rooms, public spaces and back-of-house areas.

The prospective owners, AJ Capital Partners of Chicago, plan to convert the Sheraton into a Graduate Hotel, a flag the company launched in 2014 for hotels in college towns with locally customized designs. The company presently operates six Graduate Hotels, including locations in Madison, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In an announcement this year about plans to renovate a hotel in Minneapolis under the Graduate Hotel flag, the company stated that the renovation would include new flooring, wall coverings, signage, furniture and other "aesthetic and operational improvements."

HLT nabs Iowa DOT contract

Higher Learning Technologies (HLT) has signed a contract with the Iowa Department of Transportation to supply a training application to be used by commercial driver's license students, the company announced last week.

Speaking at an economic development luncheon hosted by Coralville city staff, co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer Adam Keune told attendees the arrangement will be the company's first contract with a government entity.

Since its founding in 2012, HLT has primarily made software to study for academic exams, such as dental boards, the MCAT for admission to medical school and the NCLEX licensing exam for nurses.

"We will be the official app for anyone in the state of Iowa, and we will be providing that to every Iowa citizen for free," Mr. Keune said.

He said a second phase of the arrangement with the state will involve providing training materials for standard driver's licenses as well as motorcycle licenses.

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