- Key Initiatives
By: Katie Dewitt, KEDCO Marketing & Communications Manager
Invention and entrepreneurship have a strong backbone in Kosciusko County. As home to the Orthopedic Capital of the World®, global-leading agribusinesses, and a booming recreation sector, opportunities are countless. With today’s global competition, new opportunities must be created with purpose and intentionality.
“We have a great legacy of entrepreneurship to build on and want to make sure Kosciusko County is known as a go-to place where entrepreneurs can go, start, and grow,” said Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) CEO Alan Tio.
That’s why KEDCO developed its Entrepreneurship Initiative after an organizational relaunch in 2019.
“Our focus areas are entrepreneurship, housing, and talent. These pillars build on the strengths of our community and propel the growth of our local economy. We support existing entrepreneurs, attract and cultivate new entrepreneurs; create housing that meets the needs of our local workforce; and recruit and retain talent to work here,” said Tio.
KEDCO offers business coaching with local and regional advisors, and brings industry experts from around the State to Kosciusko County for office hours and meetings with business leaders. Some participating organizations include: AgriNovus Indiana, Brightpoint, Conexus Indiana, Indiana Health Industry Forum (IHIF), and the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC).
“KEDCO has been an invaluable partner through the good and bad times. The team has provided me with critical support when I was struggling, and connections made during networking events have resulted in new customer relationships. KEDCO’s efforts in connecting with small businesses is critical to the success of our local economy,” said Marlene Betances, Co-founder & CEO of medical device operations support company, EnPak, LLC, who has participated in KEDCO’s entrepreneurship programming and actively attends KEDCO’s Medical Device Roundtables.
The organization also houses a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to offer small businesses low-interest loans for purposes such as acquiring land, purchasing new equipment, product development, and more.
“We’re here to support companies of every size, at every stage of business. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and don’t know where to begin, or a seasoned business seeking growth opportunities, KEDCO is here to support and connect you,” said Tio. “And our RLF program is one resource we can offer to help entrepreneurs start and grow their business ventures.”
Business owners can also get connected in the community and build relationships by attending entrepreneur meetups. KEDCO hosts meetups for entrepreneurs, in partnership with Fortitude Fund, a regional organization supporting local entrepreneurs with community, valuable connections, and funding for their businesses. Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are invited to these “happy hour-style” meetups for camaraderie and connection, and to hear stories from business founders.
“KEDCO continues to pro-actively support and drive entrepreneurship within the region through outreach events such as the Fortitude Fund meetup and many others, bringing together aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs, investment opportunities, and community interest. These events continue to be well-attended with a high level of engagement,” said Mark Schindel, local medical device and biologics consultant and former CEO of Owl Manor Medical (now Zoetis).
Mark shared insightful stories about successes and lessons learned along his entrepreneurial journey at the KEDCO-Fortitude Fund meetup last May.
The next meetup will take place on Wednesday, September 28 at 4:30 p.m. at HopLore Brewing Co. at 307 W. Market St., Suite 2 in Warsaw. More details and updates to come at www.kosciuskoedc.com/events and via Facebook @kosciuskoedc.
Companies in the medical technology space have a new and unique opportunity in Kosciusko County. Last month, KEDCO, in partnership with NEXT Studios, announced the launch of a Medical Technology Accelerator Studio which will help develop a robust pipeline of medtech startup companies to complement and advance the existing product development and manufacturing capabilities in Warsaw.
“We want our community to be known for how it supports entrepreneurs. We already have a strong foundation, with thriving businesses both large and small, and by establishing this pathway for innovation in our own backyard to support Kosciusko County and area businesses, we’re planting seeds to benefit our area for decades to come,” Tio said in a recent press release.
Hear stories from local entrepreneurs and residents alike about what it’s like to live life fully in K-County by checking out the Clearly Kosciusko podcast, powered by KEDCO. Stay connected with KEDCO via Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin @kosciuskoedc.