There’s a new coffee shop coming to Fremont this fall.
While the new beverage stop plans to sell all of the usual coffee shop fare, the people it serves and those developing new business are less-than typical.
The coffee shop, to be known as Deja Brew, will not only serve students at Fremont High School it will also be run and managed by their fellow classmates.
“This is the first class that MCC (Metropolitan Community College) has ever had that has created a business incubator and is actually going to have a student run, student managed business,” Dan Smith, MCC instructor, said.
Throughout the last quarter students in the dual credit entrepreneurship class, offered by Fremont High School and Metropolitan Community College at the local high school, have worked to make the coffee shop a reality.
“We came to these students with the idea, or the premise, and we let them take it and run with it,” Matt Burg, business teacher at Fremont High School, said. “They’ve done a great job with coming up with all of the ideas. They named it, created the logo, marketing concept, business prospectus; every element has been done by the students.”
According to Burg, the plan is for Deja Brew to be up-and-running by the start of classes next fall in the newly renovated concession stand near the Nell McPherson Theater at the high school.
“When they remodeled it, it was sort of with the idea that maybe something like this was going to take place,” he said. “Like a little student hangout to use before school.”
Currently the plan is for Deja Brew to be open to students and faculty before classes begin each day during the school year, as well as during TST, which is like a homeroom study-hall period.
“So along with being open before school, we are considering having one day during the week when freshman can go during TST, and another day sophomores, and so on,” Burg said. “Because it’s only about a 30-minute period and we can only serve so many people in that amount of time.”
To help make Deja Brew a reality, Fremont High School used money from a Career and Technical Education grant that the school receives on a yearly basis as well as partnered partnered with LaRue Coffee which will provide the equipment and coffee to the new business.
“We set aside $9-10,000 and we are only going to use around half of that,” Burg said. “That was the great deal with LaRue, because if we buy and sell their product they let us use some of their machines for free.”
According to Burg, and the students in the class, the most difficult part of developing the business was deciding on a name.
“It took them a matter of about 5 minutes to choose a logo, out of a ton of options, and it took us over a week to choose the name and get everybody to agree on it,” Burg said.
To determine the name, Deja Brew, and many other factors in their business plan the students did a market survey of over 400 of their classmates.
“We took a survey of the school and picked the top three names,” Avery Gossett, student in the entrepreneurship class, said. “We asked if they drink coffee, their favorite kind, how often they would get coffee if it was available and a bunch of other stuff.”
Through that survey the class decided on Deja Brew over several other proposed names like Tiger Bean and Rise and Grind.
While most of the students in the entrepreneurship class don’t currently take time out of their mornings to get coffee from Starbucks, Scooters, or any other local coffee shop, the convenience of having it right at school could change that.
“I don’t get coffee before school, but I would if it was at the high school,” Jake Heineman said.
According to the class, the plan is to sell a variety of coffee drinks including everything from a simple cup of black coffee to espresso, cappuccino, iced coffee and seasonal drinks. They also want to include food items like varieties of cookies, muffins and fruit.
According to Smith, having students actually start a business during the dual credit entrepreneurship class gives them an ideal real-world scenario to put what they’ve learned into use.
“This class is about students who are interested in running their own business, and learning about what all that entails, and what that process is like,” he said. “So to have them actually create their own business is huge.”
He also commended Fremont High School for its commitment to the project.
“The administration and the school is excited about it, which makes it happen,” he said. “We owe Fremont High a great deal of credit for being able to put it together and get the funding for it. It will happen and it will be extremely unique, particularly for Nebraska.”
Melissa Diers hopes area residents will take part in the Fremont Area Big Give today.
The Fremont Area Community Foundation is hosting the 24-hour event designed to raise funds and awareness for nonprofit organizations in Fremont and the greater Dodge County area.
With the Big Give now underway, would-be donors are encouraged to participate in the online fundraising event for 56 Fremont area, non-profit organizations.
People may visit fremontareabiggive.org, view profiles about each nonprofit and select those they’d like to support. The minimum gift is $10.
“We want the Fremont Area Big Give to be a day to celebrate the community for everyone in our service area,” said Diers, FACF executive director. “And with a minimum gift of just $10, we hope that everyone will join us in this great big give together.”
Businesses and individuals alike are taking part in the fundraising endeavor.
And to build excitement for the Big Give, the foundation has encouraged area business to participate in new, creative ways.
That could mean offering to match employee contributions or letting staff wear Big Give T-shirts and jeans.
Pinnacle Bank, which helped sponsor a Bonus Pool for participating nonprofits last year, decided to take part in a big way this year, Diers said.
The bank is enlisting its staff members to direct $10,000 in Pinnacle Bank Big Give contributions to the charities they work for — and with — all year long as board members and volunteers.
“We are a community bank and it’s important to us that we support the community we serve by providing leadership to the nonprofits that are so vital to the healthy, vibrant community we all enjoy,” Toni Vering, senior vice president, said in a prepared statement.
Most Pinnacle Bank officers and staff serve a local nonprofit in some capacity — as regular volunteers, members or officers of nonprofit boards.
“These nonprofits rely on committed volunteers — like Pinnacle Bank staffers — to help them do their work and meet the needs of those they’re serving,” Vering said. “It seemed a natural fit that our financial support of the Big Give would reflect and further impact of the important volunteer efforts of our employees.”
Diers appreciates the community’s support.
“We’re only in our second year of hosting the Fremont Area Big Give, and I have to say it’s gratifying to have community partners like Pinnacle Bank embrace the day and help celebrate the collective effort it takes to make the Fremont area great,” Diers said.
Area residents can make contributions online to a host of nonprofits as part of the Big Give endeavor.
“As long as you have an internet connection and a computer or a device, you can make a gift from anywhere,” Diers said.
Contributors also may visit one of several Giving Stations throughout the area. Volunteers at the stations can help people make donations with a credit card, electronic check or cash. Personal checks are entered online.
Giving Station locations and times are: Fremont — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., First State Bank & Trust, 23rd Street; First National Bank of Fremont, Sixth and Main streets, and Pinnacle Bank, Sixth and Broad streets; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nye Square, 655 W. 23rd St., and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m., Fremont Family YMCA; Arlington — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Arlington Elementary and High schools and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Roots to Wings, 315 W. Eagle St.; Cedar Bluffs — 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Cedar Bluffs High School; Hooper — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., First National Bank Northeast and 5-8 p.m., The Office Bar & Grill; North Bend — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., North Bend Public Library; Scribner — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Scribner Bank, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Swanson Insurance, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Scribner Economic Development Office.
Donors may contribute to various organizations and efforts — from the Cedar Bluffs Education Foundation to Fremont Area Habitat for Humanity to the Fremont Hope Center for Kids.
More than $260,000 was raised in 2017, the first year for this endeavor in the Fremont area community. Of the nonprofits surveyed, many said as many as half of their Big Give gifts came from new donors.
In the City Council race for Ward 2, two challengers are taking on incumbent City Councilman Steve Landholm. The Fremont Tribune spoke with all three candidates for an overview of their stances and backgrounds.
Steve Landholm is the incumbent city councilman for Ward 2. Landholm, a retired electrician, believes that he has accomplished much over the course of his first term in the City Council. He says that he and the Council have helped work to get the new Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry Plant off the ground, and also cited the city’s work with the state government on the eventual beltway that would be created to the south of the city. He also says that he’s helped work on an ongoing project to create a transmission line to Fremont from Blair that would bring electrical power from OPPD.
He also cites his work on a new railroad monitoring system that aims to help emergency responders better track which railway crossings are blocked by trains.
He says he’s most proud of how he’s stayed engaged with city’s various departments, from streets to utilities, to understand their needs and to make educated decisions.
“I try to visit those folks periodically, anyway, to see how their operations are working, to see if they have anything they need to let me know, too, just to kind of keep up on all that,” he said.
Landholm believes that the city is growing rapidly, and his overall platform is to maintain that growth, arguing that projects like Costco bring more jobs to the community.
“It’s a simple item: just keep moving forward; I don’t want to be stagnant,” he said. “Jobs is the big thing. That’s what makes the town go. I’m hoping that once (Costco) comes in, there’ll be off-shoots of that company then that comes to this community here. Because it’s not only that place down there, there’s going to be places that support that business down there, too.”
He said the biggest issue that Fremont is facing is affordable housing and he hopes he will be able to continue to work on that in his next term.
Glen Ellis describes himself as an entrepreneur. A software engineer by trade, Ellis is the founder of the educational software company Sycamore Education, which he grew from two people to 30 people. He is also the owner of the May Brothers Building on 6th street, where he started Milady Coffeehouse, 1881 Pint Room and the Pioneer Theatre.
Ellis is involved in several community initiatives. He founded the Fremont Creative Collective, a non-profit that’s trying to create an environment that will allow Fremont’s entrepreneurs to thrive. He is also the chairperson of Fremont’s Business Improvement District and is involved with MainStreet Fremont, where he is hoping to improve downtown Fremont. Ellis says that he’s often told that he’s a “doer,” and that he considers himself a problem solver.
Ellis is running on the idea of “restoring community,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of division within our community over the last many years,” said Ellis. “I think it’s important that we try to bring community back together.”
His platform is based on the Orton Family Foundation’s Community Heart & Soul program, which he hopes to bring to Fremont. The program is a “community development model” that aims to better include resident voices in local decision making, according to its website.
To Ellis, one of the most important issues is making downtown Fremont more friendly for growth. That could include revisiting city ordinances and rules around second-story apartment living and permits.
“Downtown is the heart of the city, and I really believe that Fremont is poised for a wave of artisan and free-thinkers and entrepreneurs that are being priced out of the market in Omaha and Lincoln and Des Moines,” Ellis said. “I really want to get our downtown ready for that wave. That means we have to make our downtown attractable, both with arts and entertainment, eatery and boutiques and second-floor housing.”
Jim Bloom works at Structural Components as a job site repair supervisor. He describes himself as “just a citizen,” and a Navy Vet who wants to keep the city in good shape for his kids. He believes that, as a Fremont resident, he has a good handle on the issues and hopes to “do right by everybody.”
In 2001, Bloom pleaded guilty to charges related to selling methamphetamine and served nearly two years in prison. But since then, he says says he’s learned a lot from the experience. He was pardoned by Gov. Dave Heineman’s administration in 2014, records show, and as such, has regained all of the civil rights that are ordinarily lost after a felony conviction, including the right to hold public office.
“You learn from your mistakes,” Bloom said. “I’ve been clean off drugs for 18 years, so if anything, it made me a better person. It made me appreciate life better and not look down on people who do have that problem, because it is a problem.”
Now, his overall platform is to be a genuine elected official. He believes that the current City Council has done a good job and hopes to continue that.
“I just want people to know that when I say something, or I do something, I did it not because someone told me to do it, or because someone made a deal with someone and I have to do it,” he said. “I’m going to do it because it’s the right thing.”
The most important issue right now in Fremont is the incoming Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry, Bloom said. He says that the project is in motion and there’s no point to try to stop it, but now, the city needs to make sure that “what they say they’re going to do, they actually do; don’t let them cut corners.”