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Dulce Nulla wins DDA contest, shop space

MELISSA BOYLES SHOWS some of the goodies made at Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts, the first winner of the Downtown Development Authority’s Business IDEA Contest. She now gets a store space at 415 S. Stephenson Ave., rent-free, for the next year. (Downtown Development Authority photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts has been selected to set up shop at 415 S. Stephenson for one year rent-free, thanks to a Downtown Development Authority contest.

The Business IDEA Contest searched for serious entrepreneurs who were ready to take a business idea to the next level, said Amber Pipp, DDA program director. The goal was to promote economic growth downtown by bringing in new businesses and filling vacant storefronts and spaces.

Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts owner Melissa Boyles said she is honored to be the first winner.

Boyles will offer custom products that accommodate food allergies and sensitivities. Specialties include gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan baking.

“I have been working extremely hard on my business the last three years and this storefront is the next logical step. I cannot wait to provide allergy-friendly goodies to even more people in Dickinson County,” she said.

From left, Amber Pipp, DDA program director, and Melissa Boyles, owner of Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts, stand in front of 415 S. Stephenson Ave, where Boyles will operate rent-free for the next year thanks to a contest through the Downtown Development Authority. (DDA Photo).

Three other property owners and one business signed up to participate in the contest, agreeing to award a rent-free property for up to one year, if the winner was to choose their space. Property owners included Eden Property Collection, MRI Properties and Julie Cowling.

Downtown Iron Mountain’s co-working space, CWRK Collective, also offered a free trial membership to all participants in the contest.

Boyles was able to view all the available properties before deciding on the space in Suite 6 at 415 S. Stephenson Ave. owned by MRI Properties.

“I am blown away by the generosity and support of these property owners and their willingness to give a space to this contest,” Pipp said.

The DDA’s Business Development Committee reviewed and scored 15 applicants for the contest, narrowing it down to five. Those finalists submitted business plans and attended a panel with the committee, which then scored the finalists to choose the winner.

“The selection process was incredibly difficult for the committee, as we had a number of excellent, well-crafted business ideas,” Pipp said, adding, “There is a vacancy rate of approximately 10% in commercial properties, and it is the hope that this contest may be able to assist in filling these vacancies, and result in long-term business tenants.”

Boyles said they are aiming for an early August opening.

“We have a storefront, now we need to fill it,” she said. “We are working hard on getting some new equipment for our location so that it is truly a gluten-free establishment.”

She added, “There are opportunities for you to sponsor our little shop and help get us started in the right direction.”

She also is considering fundraising and sponsorship opportunities to help jump-start her new business ventures.

“I’m looking at sponsorship with contributors getting gift cards in return,” she said.

More information about Dulce Nulla Gourmet Desserts can be found at www.dulcenullagourmetdesserts.com or https://www.facebook.com/dulcenulla/.

More information about the DDA and future programs is available at www.downtownironmountain.com.

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