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CBJ Report: Wilson's Orchard buys Sutliff Cider brand with eye to expansion

Wilson's Orchard buys Sutliff Cider brand with eye to expansion

Iowa City-based Wilson's Orchard has acquired the Sutliff Hard Cider brand with plans to broaden the varieties it offers and expand its products into retail distribution throughout the state of Iowa.

The merger is expected to help the apple producer and hard cider maker develop a broader distribution and expand its team.

"Sutliff Hard Cider is a pioneering brand that has cultivated a loyal following in Iowa," Paul Rasch, who owns Wilson's Orchard with his wife, said in a release. He added that the merger is an opportunity to expand a cider brand with a strong local affinity. "We aim to build on that tradition and build an even richer Sutliff Cider brand by adding our own apples and cider-making experience."

Established in 2002, Sutliff Cider was Iowa's first brand of craft hard cider. The company pioneered the use of local apples and aging in wooden barrels. Over the years, Sutliff Cider's marquee cider has become a staple in bars and restaurants across the state.

Mr. Rasch said he sees a "fruitful future" for the brand. Beginning in September, Wilson's will launch Sutliff Cider, which can now be found mainly on local taps, in cans for sale in retail. Eventually, the brand will add other apple-centric ciders to its portfolio.

"Historically, Americans used to drink more hard cider than any other alcohol, and Iowa grows exceptionally flavorful apples," he said. "So, our task is simply to turn this great fruit into the product it wants to be and get it to consumers."

Wilson's Orchard grows over 120 varieties of apples, and began crafting hard ciders in 2015.

Hyatt Place opens in new downtown IC tower

Hyatt Place Iowa City Downtown, the third Hyatt Place hotel in the state of Iowa, opened on Sept. 5 in downtown Iowa City.

The new hotel is a joint venture, led by CA Ventures and operated by Janko Hospitality.

The 151-room property offers "intuitive design, casual atmosphere and practical amenities," according to a press release. Amenities include a 24-hour gym, free Wi-Fi, more than 1,700 square feet of meeting space, complimentary breakfast, a Gallery Menu and Market serving freshly prepared meals any time day or night and the Coffee to Cocktails Bar.

The hotel is in one of two towers that comprise RISE at Riverfront Crossings, a 575,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the southwest corner of Court and Linn streets. The development also includes a 332-unit apartment tower, street-level retail and office space.

General Manager Ryan Cochran leads the staff of 45 and Angie Baker is director of sales.

ShareBoost Marketing launches prep sports apps

Coralville startup ShareBoost Marketing LLC has launched its first set of prep sports team apps that provide useful information and insights to fans, and a fundraising opportunity for sports booster programs.

The seven apps are now available from the Apple App Store for West High, Liberty High, City High, Regina, Solon, Clear Creek Amana, West Branch and the AAU basketball organization Iowa Dynasty Hoops.

The free apps provide schedules, rosters, highlight videos, coach's communications, advertising and other content fans, parents and players can use to connect with their favorite teams.

Partners Sean Nielsen and Luke Barta plan to devote a portion of each ad sale from the apps to each school's booster program. Hy-Vee has signed up as the title sponsor for the first year.

Mr. Barta is an undergraduate pre-business student at the University of Iowa, and son of UI Athletics Director Gary Barta. Mr. Nielsen is an entrepreneur with experience in event-based apps. Mr. Barta said ShareBoost expects the app to raise about $10,000 for sports booster clubs at each high school annually through their share of advertising revenues.

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