Loebsack hears concerns of Isabel Bloom owners


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Posted Online: Jan. 09, 2013, 5:26 pm
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By Kelly Steiner, ksteiner@qconline.com
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, toured the Isabel Bloom factory in Davenport on Tuesday as part of his small business tour across Iowa. He talked to owners about what he can do in Washington to help them.

Rep. Loebsack watched workers pour concrete, add finishing touches and package the cement sculptures that are unique to the Quad-Cities. Afterward, he sat down with co-owners Bill Barrett and Cathy Nevins and asked what he could do to help.

"We can't absorb all of the ups and downs," Mr. Barrett said.

"Our No. 1 increase every year is health care," Ms.Nevins said. While health care won't be cut, Ms. Nevins is worried about effects the rising costs could have. "We want to do everything we can for the employees we have."

"We can't give them (employees) raises when we're paying all the overhead costs," Mr. Barrett said, adding that moving production overseas isn't an option. "We want to stay right here. We love it here." The previous owners planned to move production to China but changed their minds after a public outcry.

Rep. Loebsack told owners he understands the shaky economy makes it hard for small businesses.

"Certainty is absolutely critical. Uncertainty creates tremendous problems for business owners" because they can't plan ahead, he said. Rep. Loebsack plans to push for a long-term fiscal deal.

However, he predicted a continuation of the "food fight" between Democrats and Republicans over spending issues..

In the meantime, Isabel Bloom is doing well. Business is steady and no big changes are anticipated, the co-owners said. The purchased the venerable Quad-Cities business in October 2011.

The company was named one of the Quad City Chamber's small business of the year in 2012 and employs 66 at the factory, 33 of whom are full time.

Donna Young, a sculptor and another co-owner of Isabel Bloom, said she believes the product keeps getting passed on to future generations.

"It's more about the emotion in the piece," she said. Each sculpture has initials carved in the bottom to give it a more personal feel.

"It's become quite a home business for the Quad-Cities," Mr. Barrett said. "That's why we keep going. We have so many people who are involved in our product."
























 



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  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.








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