Recently, several companies announced that they would come to Davis County to build a state-of-the-art microprocessor chip factory. When complete, the facility will include hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment and more than 300 high-wage jobs. While southern Indiana has many out-of-town businesses of this type, it has more jobs created by locally developed businesses. Some start on the kitchen table, others in the garage or in the back of a pickup truck. Their idea eventually became a business that took off.
“There’s a lot to be said about entrepreneurship. There are multiple ideas about how to build community. This is generating new ideas in our community. The idea of entrepreneurship is something Davis County has been growing.” Graber Post, DC Metals, K&K, True Scripts, True RX, Indiana Safety and Supply, Williams Brothers’ Pharmacy. It’s just part of our local DNA,” said Bryant Niehoff, executive director of the Davis County Economic Development Corporation. “It’s an important part of any community’s economic development. Small things can make a big difference. With Crane out there, innovation is key, and they even work with small businesses that have unique approaches.”
The idea of innovation and entrepreneurship has been part of the development of Simon Academy from day one. The building is put together with a co-working space, with the idea that new small businesses can gain a foothold there. This idea was expanded when Purdue College moved in and brought the Fire Starter program.
“In 2017, Purdue University began administering Simon College. Simon College has always been committed to entrepreneurship,” said Samantha Nelson, program manager for the Purdue University Research Foundation. “When Purdue got involved, the Fire Starter program started. The idea was to create a better economic arena. There was a synergy between defense and start-ups. There were a lot of opportunities for these new businesses to be involved in the NSWC Crane.”
The program is about education and engagement, Nelson said, to take businesses from idea to reality. She noted that since Purdue moved into Westgate, they have helped 100 potential startups.
“The Fire Starter program is a five to six week program, one day a week, three hours a day. We facilitate and just ask questions that they might not have considered because they are so close to their ideas. Asking questions so they can think outside the box with their own ideas. It’s a designed curriculum, but working together is what drives it,” Nelson said. “We want startups to build innovation, especially in tech. Innovative solutions are needed. People have a sense of freedom to experiment and solve these problems. A lot of times, entrepreneurs have a personal interest in what they’re doing, which gives them Passionate about finding these solutions.”
In Vincennes, there is another entrepreneurship center that puts new businesses center stage. The Pantheon’s first life was a vaudeville theater. It currently lives as a center for helping people start small businesses.
“Essentially, we want to be a landing place for people who have an idea but don’t know where to go or how to start. We see a lot of people who have an idea but they don’t have the resources. They don’t have a jumping off point for where to start, and then it It’s not going anywhere,” said Keri Lane, Operations Manager for Pantheon’s Business Development Center. “We want to be a landing point that people can come to and we can refer them to our different partners who are experts in entrepreneurship and who can help the individual with a business plan. They can help that person with market research and even Help him understand how to start his own company and build it and protect his legitimacy.”
Lane noted that Pantheon offers co-working spaces where startups can get out of their garages and owners can start exchanging ideas with other budding entrepreneurs.
“The idea that we’re a co-working space is because we’re a place where you can be a member of us, and it’s basically your office. You can come here and do your work. You can network and meet other people, And take inspiration from them. It gives you the social interaction you need so you’re not locked into your home,” Lane says. “We’ve only been operating for two years now. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Once people come here and see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, it makes sense to them. Once they see What we’re doing and we’re helping small businesses, people are going to be very supportive of what we’re doing here.”
The goal of Pantheon and other small business development centers is not to fill their buildings, but to help those who come looking for help finally find their footing in the business world.
“The ultimate goal of what we’re doing here is a long-term thing. We’re creating opportunities to sustain our community long-term. We hope we’re building a foundation that will support our Community. Something that is passed down from generation to generation,” Lane said. “It’s a place to get your feet wet and the goal is to get out there and establish yourself.”
Seems like something with a lot of roots in southern Indiana.
“There are a lot of self-made businesses in this area. In southern Indiana, we’re more inclined to do that,” Nelson said.