Making managers: Entrepreneurship initiative to kick off in downtown Fortville next week

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Fortville Entrepreneurship Initiative stakeholders, from left, Florence May, Nate Huelsebusch, Matt Dixon and Lacey Williard. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

Many communities are affected by the growth central Indiana has been experiencing in recent years, and Fortville is no different.

Crossing barriers between Hancock and Hamilton Counties, the small town of less than 5,000 residents has seen a huge boom in its downtown development. As a result, a small group of stakeholders is taking action to further drive economic development in the town with a new entrepreneurship initiative that will offer programming to its members for collaboration with each other.

Lacey Williard, a lawyer and commercial real estate professional, is helping plan, organize and start the unofficially titled Fortville’s Entrepreneur Advantage, along with co-founder Zach Linder, a tech industry entrepreneur.

“I’m on the county area planning commission. We had a statewide gathering from a planning perspective, and two of the 10 recommendations involved building development but also harnessing the vitality of the main street and engaging the community,” Williard said. “So, it’s not only what you’re seeing when you’re walking up and down Main Street, but also sort of what you’re feeling.”

Williard said one of the recommendations from the statewide group was to have a connection with entrepreneurs.

“There were a couple of recommendations that came out of that that are popular in Indianapolis,” she said. “(Zach Linder and I) previewed some of those, and we thought we needed to create something that was really unique to Fortville.”

Topics of infrastructure, wellness, parks and trails and more also aren’t lost on towns like Fortville as larger cities focus on adding or updating, but Florence May, a local business owner and stakeholder advisor with the Fortville Entrepreneurship Initiative, said it’s important to also look at how government, businesses, nonprofits and up-and-comers are connecting.

“So I, for example, have a company called TRS, and we run online registration systems for big events all over the country, but we’re right here in Fortville,” May said. “We’re one of those companies that doesn’t have a retail front because you don’t need it. We know there are other companies out there like ours, and so how do we create connections, not just with the town, but with agri-business, all of the amazing retail that’s happening here and advanced manufacturing? We really want to look at how we can create a community and a connection with people who are like-minded, and this is really the beginning of that.”

The initiative will host its kickoff event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Taxman Brewing Co. Brasserie and Tap Room at 29 S. Main St. Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., will keynote the event. Fortville Entrepreneurship Initiative advisors also will announce 2018 programming and details of the  microloan program.

“What we’re really looking at here is starting with programming and looking at an initiative that’s really gathering,” May said. “Over time, we plan to see an evolution based on who comes together and the interest of the group, overall.”

“In our ZIP code, we have about 900 registered corporations, LLCs and other organizations,” Williard said. “If you take a look at the small business efforts of the state of Indiana, they’re expanding and doing some more proactive engagement and training for business plan development and marketing. So, we’re seeing this need for advisory and need for connection.”

The group will meet monthly at various locations around Fortville, including Mt. Vernon Schools, Taxman Brewing Co., Foxgardin Kitchen and Ale and more.

For more, visit the Fortville’s Entrepreneur Advantage Facebook page at facebook.com/FortvilleEntrepreneur.

Entreprenuership initiative stakeholders pause in downtown Fortville. From left, Florence May, Nate Huelsebusch, Matt Dixon and co- founder Lacey Williard. (Photo by Sadie Hunter)

ATTEND THE EVENT

What: Fortville Entrepreneurship Initiative kickoff with keynote speaker Elaine Bedel.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13

Where: Taxman Brewing Co. Brasserie and Tap Room’s Grand Place Ballroom, 29 S. Main St., Fortville

Tickets: $20 each. The first 20 entrepreneurs to text 727-204-0504 using the discount code “ENT” will receive a 50 percent discount on tickets. Heavy appetizers and Taxman sample brews will be served as part of the ticket price.

Register: eventbrite.com/e/fortville-entrepreneurship-tickets-39287754732

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