It was January when Alexander Hiffernan got his winning idea.
He was sitting outside his apartment in downtown Council Bluffs, looking at all of the vacant storefronts, thinking of the possibilities.
“I just started running with it, and now I’m here,” Hiffernan said.
This week, Hiffernan won $3,000 in the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Business Plan Competition for his idea to start a yoga studio that doubles as an art workshop space in the Bluffs downtown.
Hiffernan, who grew up in Council Bluffs and is a senior entrepreneurship student at UNO, said 100 Block Arts Center would combine three of his passions: art, yoga and entrepreneurship. The space would offer yoga classes throughout the day and art workshops hosted by local artists and businesses on Friday and Saturday evenings.
“Everyone’s too afraid to compete with Omaha and keep the locals over here. That’s where I’m really trying to push to be the first mover in this community,” Hiffernan said.
If it all comes together, he hopes to sublease space in the RNG Gallery, next door to Dixie Quicks restaurant. He plans to use the money from the competition for fixed startup costs, such as art supplies.
Dixie Quicks and RNG Gallery owner Rob Gilmer said he would love to have such a business in the space if all comes together.
“It’s nice to see a young businessperson be very eager to open up and enhance the community,” Gilmer said.
Second place and $2,000 went to James Selders, a senior art history student at UNO, for his Old Fashioned Guerrilla Art Gallery, an online, semi-nonprofit art gallery that would cater to millennials.
Third place and $1,000 went to senior English literature major Molly Hobson, who wants to open an exclusively gluten-free bakery.
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