Historic Bellevue Button Factory under renovation for new entrepreneurial center

BELLEVUE, Iowa-- A historic building in downtown Bellevue could soon have a new purpose helping businesses get up and running.

The former Button Factory on Riverview Street is more than 150-years-old. It still has the original limestone exterior and wooden support beams from when it was built in the late 1800s. Now, after nearly two years of renovations, it's about to welcome a business incubator.

"(We want to) promote and kind of grow those start-up businesses and entrepreneurial people in a rural context," says Nicolas Hockenberry, director of the Jackson County Economic All.iance. "So what services and resources can we tap into and deliver here that might be able to make that a successful endeavor?"

The entrepreneurial center could offer a variety of services, from workspaces to financial help and learning opportunities. It's part of a business-focused trend seen in many rural towns.

"It's opened people's minds to the idea of moving into a rural community," Hockenberry says. "I think having a larger spotlight put on it has been surprising to a lot of people what we have to offer."

The building owner has put a $1 million worth of work modernizing the interior. The State of Iowa provided $100,000, and the City of Bellevue also contributed some financial help.

The owner says they could be finished as early as May 2020.

Organizers are still figuring out exactly how to use the new space with a great view of the river. They're also looking at opening one in Maquoketa as well.

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