Creating ‘Business Builders’ in Henry County

Calling all small business owners!

There are people rooting for you. And a new program that wants to help your business grow.

New Castle Downtown, Knightstown Main Street and a veritable alphabet soup of local organizations have formed the “Henry County Creates,” an initiative designed to raise the level of business know-how in the entire community.

The other Henry County Creates includes the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC), the Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), the Henry County Community Foundation and Ivy Tech Community College.

Henry County Creates saw that local business owners have a passion to build something of their own, but often don’t have the guidance, education, and knowledge they need to succeed. So they start a business with a blindfold on.

The plan is to provide a workshop series called “Business Builders” to provide educational tools to teach entrepreneurs how to run a business.

After completing the free six-part series, participants will pitch their needs to Henry County Creates and could win up to $5,000 in services to help their business grow.

Carrie Barrett, Executive Director of New Castle Main Street, called Business Builders a “crash-course MBA (Masters in Business Administration) for entrepreneurs” and a mini-Shark Tank, a competition where the best new idea gets a huge financial prize.

Carrie Barrett, Executive Director of New Castle Main Street, started the conversation after attending a national conference in Seattle, Washington. At the conference, she learned of a national entrepreneurship program that helps lead community initiatives.

“I came back with that idea thinking that could really help boost our economy if we had several entrepreneurs start new businesses,” Barrett said.

She met with Corey Murphy from the EDC and Scott Underwood from ISBDC. They decided that, rather than paying some consultant to come in, it would make more sense to keep that money local and give it directly to Henry County small businesses.

“We already have this network in place. This entrepreneurship network,” Barrett said. “We already have fertile ground here for entrepreneurs.”

Small business owner Christy Ragle explained, “All these resources have been there, it’s just putting them in a package together.”

The Henry County Creates Business Builders program is open to people who want to start a local business and to those who are already working to make their business dreams come true. Students can also take part in the workshops.

Barrett emphasized that Business Builders is open to any business located in Henry County. She hopes it builds on the recently cultivated “Stellar spirit” that created so many relationships last year.

The Business Builders informational kick-off event is Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Primo, 1326 Broad Street, New Castle. There are two times – 12 pm and 6 pm – to accommodate busy schedules. A light lunch/appetizers will be provided. Sign up by emailing or calling the EDC office at 765-521-7402.

The Business Builders series will take place from 6-7:30 pm Wednesdays at the Henry County Ivy Tech Community College campus.

During each session, area business experts will provide classes to help new business owners start up and hep existing owners spot “holes” in their current business plans that could be costing them growth and profits.

The first session is Feb. 26 and is called “Your Ah-Ha Moment.” What’s your product or service and what’s the opportunity you want to seize.

On March 4, the students will learn how to create a simple business plan and business model during “How Are You Going To Get There?”

“Customers Are A Must” is the topic March 18, when they will create a target market and customer profile and explore marketing.

For “Numbers, Numbers, Numbers” on April 8, the Business Builders will discover how to develop financial projections and discuss financing.

“Put Some Action To It” on April 22 will allow them to explore aspects of operations including location and technology.

The final class is May 6 with “The People That Make It Possible,” finding the best ways to use your personal skills and when it’s time to bring on help.

The Business Builders participants will present their business idea or an idea of what will help their business grow on May 20.

A gardener may ask for a website to promote their produce online, for example. Or a toy store might need display cases or a point-of-sale system to feel and appear more professional.

A panel of judges will decide which pitches to support.

The prize money will not be a cash reward. Instead, it will fund the needed services directly. This way, Henry County Creates hopes the small businesses will lean on the skills they learned through Business Builders, not the money, to help them grow.

As Barrett said, “We’ve got to have more than just the sizzle.”

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– Story by Travis Weik (Editor@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at

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