Whitley EDC Officials Take Second Stab At Aiding Start Ups Through Business Planning Initiative

By Jeff Neumeyer

July 26, 2010 Updated Jul 26, 2010 at 6:14 PM EDT

COLUMBIA CITY, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- In this tough economy, helping "start up" businesses avoid an early "crash and burn" can recoup job losses for communities hit by other downsizing and plant closings.

That’s why officials in Whitley County have a focused plan to get new businesses off to a roaring start.

The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation or "EDC" is preparing to launch a second business-planning course called "FastTrac New Ventures".

“Start ups” often need assistance on a variety of fronts, including how to tap into worker training programs, how to access a range of local and state tax breaks, or tips on available properties to headquarter a new operation.

A Steel Dynamics Plant has been a big hit for Whitley County, creating new jobs and tax revenue over the past decade.

But not every “start up” meets with such success.

11 weeks worth of training in the business-planning course offer prospective entrepreneurs a chance to learn from expert coaches, and bounce ideas off others trying to start a company.

Alan Tio says most of them don't realize the road to profitability is filled with potholes.

President Alan Tio/Whitley Economic Development Corporation: " It's like that with anything, it always is going to take more time and more effort and we want to help them be committed to the company and committed to seeing it through. It may take five years, it may take 10 years, but we know we've got good people here that have the passion and the drive, we just have to be there to support them along the way."

The recession makes it particularly difficult to get a business off the ground right now, as getting access to money is no easy matter.

Banks are tight fisted, mainly interested in lending only to people with perfect credit.

If the Whitley business planning folks can fix that problem in an 11-week course, they may really earn their keep.

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