The Whitley County Economic Development Corp. has launched a program designed to help companies identify and deal with growth inhibitors. The organization says the TrailMaker initiative will focus on obstacles including expenses, facility space and labor.

January 22, 2014

News Release

Columbia City, Ind. — The Whitley County EDC today announced completion of the first cohort of the SBEI MarketMaker program and launch of the new SBEI TrailMaker program. Both programs are extensions of the EDC's Small Business & Entrepreneurship Initiative, which is a services-based business incubation program that provides structured services and programs for pre-startup, startup and growing businesses in Whitley County.

“We are now in our sixth year offering programs and services designed to meet the specific needs of our small business and

entrepreneur clients,” said EDC President Alan Tio, “I encourage anyone thinking about starting a business, who has a small business,

or who would like to expand their business to call on our SBEI team to help them along the way.”

SBEI MarketMaker aligns the capacity of locally-based, growth-oriented companies with opportunities to support technology transfer

and commercialization of products and services. In a partnership with Manchester University faculty member Joe Messer, SBEI

MarketMaker involves in-depth market research that prepares business owners and decision makers on how to pursue technology

commercialization and product development activities.

Clients in the first SBEI MarketMaker cohort focused on current and potential target markets. SBEI team members worked one-on-one

with clients to provide market research specific to each client's business.

For example, SBEI Market Maker client Lindsey Hively, owner

of Poptique Gourmet Popcorn, said she participated in SBEI MarketMaker “to receive assistance in determining the best marketing mix

for rapid and sustainable growth.” Market research included identifying target markets, studying demographics, reviewing past and

future profitability, and surveying current and potential clients. SBEI team members worked with clients to hone in on a specific

audience and then develop an appropriate marketing plan, which in Hively's case led to a larger rebranding effort.

SBEI Program Manager Bruce Stach and Poptique owner Lindsey Hively discuss current and future plans for her local business. Hively

was one of seven Market Maker clients who took part in the research project.

SBEI TrailMaker will complement SBEI MarketMaker by identifying the growth inhibitors that exist within companies and connecting

clients to regional and state level resources that can help business owners and decision makers to overcome those obstacles. Growth

inhibitors may include time, expenses, facility space, labor or other specific considerations. SBEI program manager Bruce Stach and

SBEI consultant Steve Franks will work team will work with clients to identify these growth inhibitors and to develop strategies to

overcome them to support clients' business growth.

“We are launching SBEI TrailMaker as an extension of our existing programs to make sure clients have removed any potential obstacles

before they pursue expanding their businesses,” said Stach, “Steve Franks and I look forward to working with an initial cohort of SBEI

TrailMaker clients in spring 2014.”

Like other SBEI programs and services, SBEI MarketMaker and SBEI TrailMaker are now provided at no cost thanks to funding from the

EDC, USDA Rural Development, and the Whitley County Community Foundation.

The EDC's SBEI programming, led by aerospace veteran Bruce Stach, provides resources for pre-startup, startup and growing

businesses in Whitley County. Programming is developed with partners such as the Indiana Small Business Development Center and

existing programs like the Kauffman Institute's FastTrac New Ventures business planning course.

About Whitley County EDC

The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is the lead economic development agency in Whitley County, Indiana. The EDC works closely with local, regional, and state partners to support our industry clients' growth and success. Our mission is to lead a comprehensive economic development program that retains and expands employment opportunities for local residents and attracts business investment to Whitley County. The Whitley County EDC was established in 1992 and represents Whitley County, Columbia City, and the Towns of Churubusco, Larwill, and South Whitley. For more information about the EDC, visit:

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