Interior of the New Dexter Laundry in Fairfield, Iowa

FAIRFIELD, Iowa (May 13th, 2019) Dexter Laundry has completed construction of its new 6,000 square foot strip center and has opened the new Dexter Laundry at the corner of Burlington Avenue and 4th Street. The new state-of-the-art self-service laundry will occupy 3,000 sq. ft of the new strip center with the remaining 3,000 sq. ft. available for lease to accommodate additional new retail outlets.

“We are excited for the opportunity to showcase our latest products and technology and serve our community with a large, clean laundry facility. We will also use this location as a world-class training center for our global network of distributors,” states Craig Kirchner, President of Dexter Laundry. “This is Dexter’s 125th year in business, this new strip center and laundry is an excellent way to celebrate and thank this community for its support.”

The new laundromat will feature Dexter’s most advanced equipment and technology, including DexterPay, an optional mobile phone application that allows customers to manage their laundry experience, including making washer and dryer settings, monitoring progress, and paying for their laundry. The new laundromat also has a workspace and free Wi-Fi available for customers.

Dexter Laundry regularly hosts customers and technicians from around the globe. The new laundry will function as a showcase for their products and serve as a global training center for their commercial distributors and service technicians.

Kristina and Emma Timotina using the New Dexter Laundry

Fairfield Economic Development Association’s, Executive Director, Joshua Laraby says, “Dexter has considered every detail when it designed this new facility and they’ve exceeded expectations with aesthetics, energy efficiency, and technology. We are thankful and humbled by Dexter’s continued belief and investment in Fairfield. We look forward to supporting Dexter in securing new business for the adjacent retail space.”
The former laundromat facility is slated to be demolished and converted to additional parking. A grand opening celebration is being planned for June.

Media contact:
Dexter Laundry
Director of Marketing & Customer Support, Amanda Konczal

For more information about the available retail space, contact:
Fairfield Economic Development Association
Executive Director, Joshua Laraby

New Fairfield Shell Building Breaks Ground

     (Pictured above is an artist rendering of the shell building under construction)

FAIRFIELD, Iowa (March 26, 2019) – Groundbreaking took place today on construction of a new 30,000 square-foot shell building in Fairfield’s newest business & industrial park. Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA) announced the facility will be located on a three-acre parcel within FEDA’s 61-acre Business & Industrial Park and will be marketed to businesses considering expanding within, or relocating to, Fairfield.

“We’ve had companies look at Fairfield, but we didn’t have the available building stock with the matching needs,” said FEDA’s executive director, Joshua Laraby; “some of the main issues have been low eave heights and limited clear span construction with existing buildings,” he added.  The location is prime for business, being adjacent to the Highway 1 – Highway 34 interchange on Fairfield’s southside.

The project is a culmination of discussions which began in early 2016, to position the City of Fairfield for further growth and creation of new jobs.  With the advisory support of Iowa Area Development Group (IADG), by August 2016, a 28E partnership agreement was formalized between FEDA and The City of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Access Energy Cooperative, and Northeast Power. Laraby says a strong partnership has made the new park shovel ready.

FEDA purchased the most recent 55 acres in 2015, with intent to develop the site into a new Business and Industrial Park.  By 2016 FEDA had completed bringing sanitary sewer infrastructure to site with the assistance of a low interest loan from Access Energy Cooperative’s revolving loan fund. Later that same year, Access Energy Cooperative invested in bringing 3-phase electric to the site – positioning the site for commercial and industrial development. FEDA also partnered with CR Signs of Cedar Rapids to bring a new community-impact billboard along Highway 34, bringing more exposure to Fairfield.  Last year, 227th Street was newly paved with the assistance of the City, County, and an Iowa DOT RISE Grant.  Shortly thereafter, the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development awarded Access Energy Cooperative a $300,000 grant, plus $60,000 in matching funds from the Cooperative, for the Fairfield shell building project, which in turn is available to FEDA in the form of a loan.

“Breaking ground today on a new industrial building in a new industrial park is exciting, as FEDA and its partners open another era of providing the infrastructure necessary for local business to grow.  We thank our partners: the City of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Access Energy Cooperative, Northeast Power and Iowa Area Development Group for their cooperation and support for this project,” said Tim Kuiken, FEDA Board President.

Schaus-Vorhies Contracting of Fairfield was awarded the bid for General Contractor for the project. The 100 x 300-foot steel frame construction will boast a 27-foot eave height and will be manufactured by CECO Building Systems in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Kevin Wheeler, General Manager/CEO for Access Energy Cooperative, said, “Access Energy Cooperative and Northeast Power are pleased to partner with the Fairfield Economic Development Association, Jefferson County and the City of Fairfield to bring this building to fruition.  One of the key pillars upon which we are grounded is commitment to community, and we take great pride in assisting with economic development in southeast Iowa.  This project allows us to bring new development to this area, with great visibility to Fairfield.  We look forward to working with the partners in showcasing Fairfield and Jefferson County.”

The construction of the shell building is expected to be completed by September 2019. Businesses requesting more information about the shell building or other opportunities within the industrial park can contact Joshua Laraby, FEDA Executive Director at 641-472-3436 or


Sponsoring Entrepreneurs for Entrefest


Cedar Rapids, IowaMay 16-17, 2019

Entrefest – Iowa’s Largest Entrepreneurial Gathering – May 16-17.

Opportunity Squared Regional Economic Development will be sponsoring 2 entrepreneurs to attend.

Based on the State of Entrepreneurship 2019 Report released by the Kauffman Foundation, “In a thriving ecosystem, entrepreneurship empowers individuals; improves standards of living; and creates jobs, wealth, and innovation in the economy. Yet, entrepreneurs face many barriers when turning their ideas into realities. Despite challenges, many Americans are finding ways to break through these barriers to successfully launch businesses and revitalize entrepreneurial ecosystems across the county.”Opportunity Squared is prepared to register two individuals from its nine-county area to attend and learn firsthand from entrepreneurs that have “Been There, Done That”.

Visit for more information and to see a schedule of speakers and topics.

Download an application HERE

Please email completed applications to:

Complete this application and return by April 12th for your chance to attend on our dime. (This is a competitive process)

FairCast receives over $43,000 in energy efficiency rebates

News release


Media Contact: Mike Wagner

 Phone: (319) 786-4040

FairCast receives over $43,000 in energy efficiency rebates

Custom rebate program helps new owners update production line and pollution controls

FAIRFIELD, Iowa – January 18, 2019 – When the new owners of FairCast began operations in June 2017 they wanted to install energy-efficient equipment to improve the facility and its operations. A $43,797.86 rebate from Alliant Energy helped the iron casting company upgrade its air compressors and bag house pollution control system.

These improvements will reduce FairCast’s energy use by over 345,000 kWh and save the Fairfield, Iowa company approximately $27,000 a year on their energy bills.

“FairCast greatly appreciates the ongoing partnership with Alliant Energy. These financial incentives provide additional funding for our energy efficiency program,” said Roger Vorhies, FairCast board member. “Since we took over this operation, Alliant Energy has been with us every step of the way working with us on energy efficiency projects and working to make sure our company is a success!”

“This project is going to make us more energy efficient and will assist us in improving our bottom line,” said Ken Ledoux, FairCast president and general manager.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the FairCast team,” said David Vollmar, key account manager for Alliant Energy. “We appreciate their commitment to reduce their impact on the environment and applaud their focus to pursue energy efficiency projects.

Custom rebates are available to Alliant Energy’s retail electric and gas customers located in the company’s Iowa service area. For more information, visit or call 1-866-ALLIANT (866-255-4268).


Photo (from left to right): FairCast Board Member Roger Vorhies, Alliant Energy Senior Account Manager David Vollmar and FairCast Plant Manager Jim Steinbeck.

Alliant Energy Corporation’s Iowa energy company, Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), utilizes the trade name of Alliant Energy. The Iowa utility is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and provides electric service to 490,000 retail customers and natural gas service to 220,000 retail customers. The employees of Alliant Energy focus on delivering the energy solutions and exceptional service their customers and communities expect – safely, efficiently and responsibly. Alliant Energy Corporation (NASDAQ: LNT) is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is a component of the S&P 500. For more information, visit

Open House for Current Registered Child Care Providers and Those Interested in Becoming a Registered Child Care Provider

Location: Washington Elementary, 406 East Madison Ave. Fairfield
When: Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
6p.m. -7 p.m.

The Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Board is collaborating with the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, and the Fairfield Economic Development Association to host an open house for .those interested in becoming a home-based child care provider, and those already providing child care in their home.

A Child Care Nurse Consultant is a free service that provides support and resources. I can help with special needs care planning, immunization questions, in addition to any health and safety questions. I can work with providers to obtain points for the quality rating system. I am also certified to inspect playgrounds. I provide trainings to help with the required training hours. I can also do a handwashing training with the children in care. For more information, please contact

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) provides resources and education to support quality child care, including consultation and training for new and existing child care providers. Child Care Consultants can assist you with starting a child care business, meeting the Department of Human Services (DHS) regulations, applying for Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS), and any other questions you may have regarding child care. CCR&R also provides the registration application for new child care providers and can help you become registered with DHS. For more information, please contact

New Child Care Business Kits. CCR&R worked with our DHS partners to develop a business kit to provide you with information on 4 topics critical to your growth and success as a child care provider. This opportunity is specifically designed for newly registered providers or those in the process of becoming registered. Thanks to partnership with Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk ECI, grant funding will allow providers who commit to 4 on-site consultation visits to receive up to $250 in resources for your child care program. During each visit, the provider will work 1 on 1 with an experienced child care consultant to better your business and increase the quality of care you provide. This program is funded by Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa. For more information, please contact Chelsea Van Daele

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is funded by the USDA and works to combat hunger. CACFP serves over 4,000,000 children with healthy meals & snacks and is an indicator of quality child care. The CACFP encourages healthy meals and snacks to be served by child & adult care providers. Benefits of being a CACFP provider are financial reimbursement on groceries, education & training on healthy eating, tools & resources to use every day, and support from the entire child nutrition community. Requirements to be in the program in Iowa are that you are a registered child care home with your county Department of Human Services and that you are signed up with the local agency who sponsors the CACFP. For more information contact Glori Headley Johnson or Julie Pitzl at Sieda Community Action 641-682-8741 or or

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® IOWA (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) assists childcare providers throughout the state to increase their professional development through sponsored scholarships. Several scholarship models (or choices) exist for family child care home providers, child care teachers, directors, and part day preschools or program providers. Program administered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. For more information, please contact

Child Care WAGE$® IOWA is a nationally licensed program currently funded in 37 counties across the state. WAGE$ provides salary supplements to childcare providers based on their levels of education and contingent upon continued work in their current eligible program. In doing so, WAGE$ seeks to increase education rates for staff, reduce turnover rates for early education programs, and improve the quality of care for children. Program administered by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. For more information, please contact

Media Contact:
Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Early Childhood Iowa
Director for Iowa, Keokuk and Jefferson Counties




Current Home Child Care Provider Incentive Program for Jefferson County

Fairfield, Iowa (December 20th, 2018) The Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Board is collaborating with the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee to offer a new incentive program to anyone currently operating a registered child care program in their home Participants in the program can receive up to $2,500 in incentives. There are currently seven registered child care programs in Jefferson County.

Home-based child care businesses enrolled in the incentive program, will need to work with Child Care Resource and Referral and the Jefferson County Child Care Nurse Consultant to begin an application. The new incentive program will provide the following tiered-incentives:

Requirement:                                                                                                      Incentive:

  • Registered Provider to Level 1 on the Quality Rating System              $500.00
  • Go From a Level 1 To Level 2 on the Quality Rating System                $500.00
  • Go From a Level 2 To Level 3 on the Quality Rating System                $500.00
  • Go From a Level 3 To Level 4 on the Quality Rating System                $500.00
  • Go From a Level 4 To Level 5 on the Quality Rating System                $500.00

                                                                                                       $2,500.00 Total Incentive

“Our goal is to retain current home-based child care businesses in the Fairfield community. Home-based child care businesses will be eligible for incentive payment once they complete the quality requirements,” said Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Director for Iowa/Keokuk/Jefferson Early Childhood Iowa.  “Iowa has lost 40% of its child care providers in the last five years.  In 2011, Jefferson County had 36 providers. By 2018, the number of providers has decreased to 14.”

This incentive program is in response to the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee’s three-tiered approach to addressing the child care shortage in the Fairfield Community:

• Assist Existing Child Care Business to Expand Services
• Recruit and Retain New Home-Based Child Care Businesses
• Open a New Child Care Facility in Fairfield

There will be an open-house informational session for current home-based child care providers and for those interested in starting a new home-based child care program on January 9, 2019, at 6 p.m. at Washington Elementary School Gym.  Snow date is January 16, 2019.

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association said, “The committee is making consistent progress on assisting with the creation of more child care spaces, addressing affordability and improving the quality of care. The partnership between Early Childhood Iowa, the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee and economic development, we think, has been key.”

Contact’s to learn more:

Mandi Lauderman, Jefferson County Public Health
County Child Care Nurse Consultant

Julie Ledger, Child Care Resources & Referral
Child Care Consultant

Media Contact:

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Early Childhood Iowa
Director for Iowa, Keokuk and Jefferson Counties

ALCAST Midwest Works (formerly FALCO) Sells to Aluminum Castings Company

Fairfield, Iowa (November 30th,2018) Effective yesterday, ALCAST Midwest Works LLC in Fairfield, restructured and sold its operating assets to its Galesburg, Illinois based sister company, Aluminum Castings Company.

Aluminum Casting Company is a high-quality American aluminum sand castings foundry, specializing in supplying both cored and uncored parts in several aluminum alloys of all sizes and volumes, including prototyping.

Vice President of Operations for Aluminum Casting Company, Scott Kelsey, said, “we want to reassure the community, little will change, and operations will stay in Fairfield. Aluminum Castings Company is stable and well established. This was a strategic business move for us to ensure the life of Fairfield operations and this will position us for growth in this facility.”

With this transition, Kelsey said that operations between their different location were also restructured. They have reemphasized the sand molding operations in Fairfield to leverage the existing equipment and talent at the Fairfield location. They have also relocated their heat treating and grinding operations back to the Fairfield from their Clarence, Missouri facility. In addition, a portion of the previously outsourced core making work, has now also been brought in-house to the Fairfield location. “This is a positive change for the long-term sustainability of the company, we’re going to have a completely different level of support from their years’ experience from our other operations, said Kelsey”

In the sale, 36 of the Fairfield staff were hired by Aluminum Casting Company and 9 were not hired. “We were able to identify some opportunities for work-sharing with our other facilities and create some efficiency within our operations, said, Kelsey”

Kelsey, has been the V.P. of Operation for Fairfield since the first acquisition in August of 2017, says “ownership and management will not change. We have invested $1.5 million dollars into the facilities and equipment in Fairfield since 2017 and we have also added great health insurance benefits for our employees and a 401K opportunity, both which were not previously offered.”

Kelsey sees a positive outlook on the aluminum castings industry, both in the short and long term. “The industry is strong and as long we are able to maintain sustainable profits, we are looking at adding a new sand molding machine in Fairfield, which would add jobs here.”

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association, said, “It is good news to hear most operations will remain in Fairfield. Considering the changes, things sound to be stable for the company overall.”

“The local economy is strong and all of our sectors including the manufacturing sector are continuing to grow and add jobs. I encourage the displaced workers to apply with the Fairfield manufacturing companies.”

New Home Child Care Provider Incentive Program for Jefferson County


Fairfield, Iowa (October 12th, 2018) The Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Board is collaborating with the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee to offer a new incentive program to anyone wishing to start a new child care program in their home or to become a registered child care home provider if they are already caring for children in their home. Participants in the program can receive up to $3,500 in incentives.

Home-based child care businesses enrolled in the incentive program, will need to work with Child Care Resource and Referral and the Jefferson County Child Care Nurse Consultant to begin an application. The new incentive program will provide the following tiered-incentives:

Requirement:                                                                        Incentive:

  • Become a DHS Registered Provider                                      $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 6 months                    $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 12 months                  $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 18 months                  $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 24 months                  $500.00
  • Become A Level 1 on Quality Rating System                        $500.00
  • Become A Level 2 on Quality Rating System                        $500.00

                                                                        $3,500.00 Total Incentive

“Our goal is to recruit five new home-based child care businesses in the Fairfield community by July 1, 2019. Home-based child care businesses will be eligible for incentive payment once they complete the quality and longevity requirements,” said Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Director for Iowa/Keokuk/Jefferson Early Childhood Iowa.

This new incentive program is in response to the committee’s three-tiered approach to addressing the child care shortage in the Fairfield Community:

• Assist Existing Child Care Business to Expand Services
• Recruit and Retain New Home-Based Child Care Businesses
• Open a New Child Care Facility in Fairfield

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association said, “The work the steering committee has completed in the last few months has created a notable awareness in the community around the need for additional, quality and affordable child care spaces. We are not the only community in Iowa with a shortage of child care spaces, though in conversations on the state level, we are essentially forging the road in Fairfield with our strategic process. This new incentive is a helpful and measurable step towards closing the gap.”

The opportunity to create a thriving community by retaining, attracting and engaging families in the area depends on the availability of high quality, affordable, childcare. In an April 2018 survey in Jefferson County, 438 current and future parents articulated their challenges and desires regarding childcare. One take away from this survey is that, if a family can find affordable, high-quality child care, when they need it, they will stay in the school district, buy a home in the area, seek employment, patronize local businesses, and participate in community events. Child care is an important part of a community’s infrastructure; it is as critical as the built infrastructure.

In the first quarter of 2018, the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, the Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Area Board commissioned First Children’s Finance of Des Moines to complete a Child Care Market Analysis to better understand the child care market in Jefferson County. The Child Care Market Analysis showed there are shortages in the number of child care slots for two-year old’s, and for full-day, full-year preschool for three and four-year old’s. Parents that participated in the market study identified a licensed center or a registered child care development homes as their most preferred options for providing care to their children.

There will be incentive information forthcoming for existing Registered Home-Based Providers.


Contact’s to learn more:

Mandi Lauderman, Jefferson County Public Health
County Child Care Nurse Consultant

Julie Ledger, Child Care Resources & Referral
Child Care Consultant

Media Contact:

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Early Childhood Iowa
Director for Iowa, Keokuk and Jefferson Counties


Creative Edge Master Shop Sells to Weaton Capital And Secures the Legacy of Fairfield Business Icon


*Story courtesy of Creative Edge Master Shop

(October 9th, 2018) Creative Edge Master Shop has been a pillar of the manufacturing community in Fairfield for the past 30 years. Now CEO Jim Belilove has announced a transition of ownership to a chosen buyer, Weaton Capital, which will continue Belilove’s legacy and retain operations in Fairfield. The sale includes two other divisions of Creative Edge (ToolKeepers and Resilient Flooring) and became effective October 1st, with Belilove remaining involved as a principal for four years.

“Nate Weaton is a born-and-bred Iowan and Fairfield resident with deep roots in this community,” says Belilove. “He plans to be involved in daily operations at our factory in Fairfield. Although he provided the investment capital through his company, Weaton Capital, he’s not an arms-length investor. He’s a ‘roll up your sleeves’ investor.”

Weaton says that his company’s guiding principle is to protect and value the founder’s legacy when they invest in a company. “We hung out our shingle because we want to be local, we want to invest in Iowa businesses,” he says.

Josh Laraby, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA)—whose mission is to facilitate economic growth in Fairfield by supporting existing Fairfield businesses and recruiting new ones—calls it “a perfect marriage between a local business founder and a local entrepreneurial investor.”

It’s a story of successful Fairfield development—first because Jim Belilove and Creative Edge have been important supporters of FEDA and the Fairfield business community for 30 years, and second because Weaton Capital, a new Fairfield business, is providing security for Creative Edge’s employees and retaining its Fairfield location into the future.

30 Years of Supporting the Fairfield Economy
In many ways, it’s a happy continuation for a story that started 30 years ago.

“From the start, Creative Edge was a local business that not only promoted growth in Fairfield but had a global reach,” says Laraby.

Back in 1988, abrasive-waterjet technology was relatively unknown, used for cutting frozen vegetables and windshields, its artistic potential untapped. It was Creative Edge that pioneered the use of waterjet-technology to create intricate, Renaissance-quality designs for stone and tile flooring. Today the Creative Edge brand is known all over the world for creating more than 10,000 floors and wall murals in hotel lobbies, airports, children’s hospitals, churches, and government buildings from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.

The sheer range of their projects is astounding. Just a few of their high-profile, award-winning projects include the Astronaut Memorial at Kennedy Space Center, the visitor’s center at West Point and the entryway to Disney World in Florida. Three recent projects that won major national industry awards: the marble lobby medallion at the Bellagio Las Vegas; the steel-and-granite Spotlight on Broadway sidewalk installation in Times Square; and the 69,000-square-foot decorative terrazzo floor at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

According to Laraby, Creative Edge has been an iconic Fairfield employer. Many of Belilove’s 40 employees have been with him for 20 years or more—and he’s already retired 16 people who have spent their full career with Creative Edge.

“That’s extremely rare, for a company to retain and sustain its employees like that,” Laraby points out. “And coming from the voice of the employees, it’s because of the congenial and high-quality company culture. That goes a long way.”

Creative Edge has also been generous in installing their beautiful art in key locations in Fairfield. Local installations by Creative Edge include spectacular lobby floors of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, the Student Center at Maharishi University of Management, First National Bank, Iowa State Bank, Libertyville Bank, the Jefferson County Veteran’s Monument and new storefront signage as part of the recent renovation of the town square.

Laraby says that Creative Edge has helped diversify the local economy. “Jim creates these magnificent art pieces and is a unique part of the manufacturing sector,” says Laraby. “That contributes to a more diversified and therefore stronger economy for Fairfield.”

Laraby also notes that Creative Edge has been a stable resident within FEDA’s first industrial park, occupying their own 120,000-square-foot building.

Finally, Creative Edge is one of the few Fairfield companies that exports a made-in-the USA product to other countries, contributing to both the national and local economies.

“People often think that this level of artistry could only be created overseas with cheaper labor,” says Belilove. “But Creative Edge installations are actually a perfect combination of American manufacturing and American design.”

Belilove and his wife, Ginger, have also been strong supporters of the arts and business community in Fairfield.

A Supportive Community for Businesses
In his global business travels Belilove has served as a kind of ambassador for Fairfield. “Ginger and I have grown our business in Fairfield for thirty years because we love it here,” says Belilove. “And I’m always proud to say that our business is based in Fairfield. It’s a great place to live and work from.”

Jim Belilove points out that Iowa is now rated the best state in the country for a wide variety of factors such as business opportunity, education, and quality of life, according to US News & World Report’s Best States Rankings.

The supportive financial structure is one reason Fairfield is a fertile ground for business. Belilove says that Creative Edge has received essential loans through FEDA and local banks over the years.

“Iowa State Bank has been in this community since 1934 and is a community-invested
bank,” he says. “They’re tied to the nurture and health of Fairfield. I’ve worked with a number of bank presidents, and each one extended the previous president’s goodwill towards Creative Edge.”

That goodwill came into play on three occasions when Creative Edge was experiencing challenges and got behind on their payments. “Each time I got a call from the bank, asking to meet with me. A lot of times that is a really bad call to get. But instead it was always, ‘Jim, how can we help you?’”

“Management and ownership succession are universal challenges for businesses across Iowa. I couldn’t be more pleased with Jim and Nate coming together to solve both of these issues for Creative Edge. They’re a powerful duo and will complement each other very well,” says Aaron Kness, President/CEO of Iowa State Bank & Trust Co.
“At Iowa State Bank we take pride in providing value to business clients beyond loans and deposit accounts. Two of the most impactful services we provide are not in any of our brochures or marketing materials, such as helping to build strategic alliances and assisting in transactions that make our clients stronger and more successful.”
Belilove feels that it was Iowa State Bank’s confidence in Creative Edge that not only allowed him to continue but also led to other important financing, such as the six low-interest loans provided by Regional Economic Development Incorporated (R.E.D.I.) that he has received through FEDA.

“A R.E.D.I. loan is a regional revolving loan fund for business development that FEDA provides to qualified businesses,” says Laraby. “Each time the business owner pays back the loan, it becomes available to help another owner to expand operations.”

With their most recent R.E.D.I. loan, for instance, Creative Edge was able to purchase new waterjet machines and upgrade existing equipment.

“The R.E.D.I. Revolving Loan Fund has been an important ally to Creative Edge and has made possible several expansions over the years,” says Belilove. “This new loan allows us to add high-tech equipment and productive capacity to fuel the growth in our ToolKeepers Division and has allowed us to add ten new jobs for Fairfielders.”

Protecting and Valuing the Founder’s Legacy
With Belilove’s love of Fairfield and his investment in the community, he was looking for a transition partner who would continue operating Creative Edge from Fairfield.

“I knew I wanted a buyer who considers being located in the state of Iowa and the city of Fairfield to be good thing, not just something you have to put up with, or somewhere you don’t really want to be,” says Belilove.

But as the years passed without finding the right partner, he was beginning to wonder. “My wife joked that I would be still working here until I reached 100,” says Belilove.

Enter Nate Weaton, who recently established Weaton Capital as founder and partner, and purchased Creative Edge as the company’s third investment, which he feels is a perfect fit, like “inserting a square peg in a square hole.”

Weaton brings a wealth of relevant experience to the Creative Edge purchase agreement. His career has a solid balance of entrepreneurial ventures and large public-company experiences. Most recently, he was with Dover Corporation serving as Vice President and General Manager of their Hill Phoenix Specialty Products Division inn Keosauqua, IA, their Case Division in Richmond, VA, and ended his career with Dover Refrigeration and Food Equipment as Senior Vice President of Business Development.
In 2017 he left Dover and made the decision to work in Fairfield, where he has lived for the past 20 years. He has deep roots here, raising a family of five children, with his youngest in 7th grade. His wife, Lori Schaefer-Weaton, is president of Agri-Industrial Plastics in Fairfield. Nate Weaton also serves on the board of ABI and is active in organizations such as Elevate Iowa and Elevate Manufacturing.
Weaton and his partners are passionate about working in Fairfield and giving back to the community. He volunteers as a Fairfield High School football coach, and is involved in a series of civic outreach organizations, from Habitat for Humanity to Little Super Heroes Foundation to the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center.

All of his business experience—and his Fairfield connection—comes into play in his new role at Weaton Capital. “We can take all the experience in the big company and bring what was good about it back to Fairfield—bring the resources back, bring the relationships back, the connections back,” says Weaton.

Weaton’s vision for Creative Edge? “You keep doing what you’re doing,” he says. “You build on the really great thing, which is the beautiful stuff across the globe that they create, that has an impact. I wouldn’t change the brand, I wouldn’t change the product. I think there are other markets we can go after—and Jim and I have talked about that. But I would keep doing what we’re doing, just do it more often and more of it, and expand. You see this beautiful stuff across the globe, and it’s having an impact. That’s what I find exciting.”

Helping Fairfield Businesses Grow through Succession Planning
Weaton Capital is poised to invest in other businesses in Southeast Iowa because Nate Weaton sees it as a great place to do business.

“There are a lot of really positive aspects to Iowa,” he says. “You can touch on all the hot buttons: values, work ethic, work force, quality of life. We have a great education system—one of the best community college systems in the nation. It’s a great place to raise families. And from a pure business perspective—we’re right smack in the middle of the US. We can ship to both coasts, north and south.”

Weaton and his partners feel that the Creative Edge agreement is a good working model for other companies they invest in: as with Creative Edge, they plan to be hands on, to be involved with day-to-day operations, and to continue the founder’s legacy.

In other words, Weaton Capital provides something that many small businesses are lacking: a succession plan.

“This is particularly an issue in small towns,” says Belilove. “The pool of potential buyers is limited, the kids move away and if you look around there’s a lot of business owners like me—they have a successful company but they don’t have a successor.”

Josh Laraby agrees. “It’s important for resources like Weaton Capital to be available to Fairfield companies, to engage in conversations about succession plans,” he says. “This is important across all sectors—retail, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, every type of business.”

Belilove says that he’s willing to be a poster child for the kind of succession planning that Weaton Capital provides. “They can invest in companies and help them expand and grow and continue for generations in the way the founder intended,” he says.

Belilove laughs when he shares the way he pictures the transaction.

“I was driving the stagecoach, and then Nate Weaton climbed aboard,” he says. “We came to an agreement, and without stopping it or changing how Creative Edge operates, he will now have the reins. It’s the same stagecoach and the same direction. That’s a good image of how this will work. It’s way different from someone coming in from the outside.”

$200,000 Grant to Support Research on Cutting Edge Solar and Battery Storage Installations in Fairfield