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Entrepreneur Profile: Derald Gray

Entrepreneur Profile: Derald Gray

DG Visionaries

Derald Gray’s love of video production began as a kid in Elkhart, making YouTube shorts with his brothers and sisters. In school, he was known as the “Video Guy,” having gone viral lip syncing to Michael Jackson. His love of capturing life in the moment led him to found DG Visionaries.

“I was born a videographer,” Derald said. “It was something that chose me. Pictures are great, but to be able to hear how your day was – to see it moment by moment – I just love being able to capture memories through film.”

DG Visionaries provides high-value video production and mobile DJ services for corporate events as well as weddings. While based out of Elkhart, Derald also has an office in Indianapolis. The company has become a sought-after vendor in the wedding industry, growing from 16 weddings in 2020 to over 80 in 2022. In addition to weddings, they’ve also produced commercials and documentaries, even a corporate livestream and football hype video.

“I’m in the business of turning visions into reality though sight and sound,” said Derald. “The D.G. is because the work that we do is my passion and aligns with my values and strengths. I put my stamp on everything we do. It’s all about the visionaries, and that includes not only my team, but the clients that we serve.”

The Elkhart Central grad went on to study telecommunications at Ball State University, with a concentration in video production. During this time, he also DJed at events held by his fraternity, Sigma Nu. While this started with simply playing music on his phone, it reignited his love of music. He eventually got internship with a wedding DJ company based in Southern Michigan.

After college, Derald worked as a photojournalist at NBC-affiliate WNDU. There, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for the series “Never Again: Preventing Bus Stop Tragedies.” The story was an in-depth piece following an accident that killed young students on their way to catch the school bus. The piece led to the passing of legislation to increase bus stop safety. Despite his success in the newsroom, Derald longed for more flexibility to do what he loved on his own terms.

“I was DJing on the side, there were so many hours I was putting into it, working both jobs,” Derald said. “If I focus those hours on building a website, building a brand, showcasing my own talents – then I could possibly get clientele on my own, instead of the whole corporate thing. I enjoyed it, but I saw the freedom entrepreneurship brought.”

He’s found the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has been dealing with growing pains and determining the fine balance of growing the company – how to be able to take on more work, while weighing the cost of additional employees.

“It gets to the point where I can’t do it all myself,” he said. “That’s been the biggest challenge – being skilled enough to have people who want you to do their wedding or shoot their video, but also realize you’re only one person. You have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else – so I need to be strategic enough to really budget and set aside how much I need to hire someone to help out and grow the business.”

Derald now has a team of three DJs and expects to hire another editor to work on videos in the coming year. Just as he stives to develop his talents and fulfill his vision, he looks for employees who find a deep satisfaction in the work as well.

Derald is a Cohort 5 graduate of HustleSBE, a Startup South Bend – Elkhart business bootcamp program for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Women business owners who are focused on exploring new solutions for their customers, generating new ideas, and shoring up current business practices to create a solid foundation upon which to grow.

“I am very thankful for this year’s class,” he said. “It was definitely worthwhile. One of the most beneficial things I learned from Hustle was ‘niche-ing’ down and realizing you don’t have to feel like you need to do every single thing inside your business. Narrow down the focuses of your business that you are good at – that you know are the best use of your time. If you focus on those things, you can grow in more ways than you can expect.”

He also strives to use his success to better his community. Derald was the only entrepreneur in the 2022 class of the Elkhart Leadership Academy. He was recognized as the Havilah Beardsley Young Entrepreneur in 2022 by Junior Achievement serving Elkhart County. In addition, he has joined the board of directors for Lacasa, the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, and the Tolson Center.

“It’s been great having a voice with community impact,” he said. “The Tolson Center is one of the places I grew up in. It’s been great to give back to one of the organizations that I spent some time in as a youth, especially for south side Elkhart, because that is the community I was born and raised in. My grandmother lived right across the street from Tolson. I remember staying over with them, walking over, and playing basketball. To see such a big investment hit my part of the city, where my family has its roots and origins – it’s been great to be on the other side of that and have a voice in it.”

For more information on DG Visionaries, click here.

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Founder Factory Celebrates Regional Entrepreneurs

Elkhart, Ind. (Nov. 17, 2022) – Founder Factory 2022 brought entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and investors together for a day of networking, education, and inspiration on Nov. 16 at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart. The event, now in its second year, has sold out twice.

“The fact that this event has sold out twice in the two years we’ve held it is a testament to the strength of our regional entrepreneur ecosystem,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “Entrepreneurship can seem like a lonely path, so to bring these founders and supporters together for a day of networking – it’s a powerful thing.”

This year’s keynote address featured two entrepreneurial powerhouses from Atlanta, Jewel Burks Solomon and Justin Dawkins. Burks Solomon is the Head of Google for Startups in the U.S. and serves as Managing Partner for Collab Capital, a $50 million venture capital fund she launched to close the funding gap for Black entrepreneurs. She founded Partpic, which was acquired by Amazon in 2016, leading her to become a product leader at Amazon’s Visual Search and AR team.

“’No’ is a gift,” Burks Solomon shared with the audience. “’No’ – at the time it doesn’t feel good; it doesn’t feel great – to hear it, but once you can get comfortable understanding that no all the time doesn’t mean no. Most of the time, it means ‘not right now.’”

Dawkins has worked on founding teams, including the startup SilverPop, which was acquired by IBM in 2014. He also serves as a Managing Partner for Collab Capital, while also being the co-founder and co-chair of Goodie Nation, a social impact organization based in Atlanta.

“Find your spot,” said Dawkins. “Where do you fit into that stack? Where do you fit into those layers? And if you aren’t sure of where you fit, pick the advocate. Pick the storyteller. Find somebody in the room and say, ‘you know what? I like you. I believe in you. If no one else is going to tell you, I’m going to do it.’ And wear that hat, if no other hat. Be the investor, right? You don’t have to write a check to invest in someone.”

Founder Factory featured special guest Cecilia Wessinger, the Director for Global Community with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, an organization operating a platform of projects and programs in 180 countries around the world to celebrate, understand, support, and connect entrepreneurs and those who champion them.

“Some of you are entrepreneurs of need, people like me, who said, ‘Well, I’m 50 years old, who’s going to hire me with this set of skills, but I’ve got an idea and I think I can make this idea work.’” said Wessinger. “So, it sparks that creativity. Some of you have an itch to scratch and see an opportunity. ‘I have an idea and I’m going to solve this problem, because this problem needs to be solved. And if I don’t solve it, it’s never going to be solved.’ So, you’re an entrepreneur of opportunity. The rest of you in this room, you’re still part of this journey, because all of the entrepreneurs always need customers.”

Founder Factory wrapped up with the IEDC Global Entrepreneurship Week Launch Party celebrating the kick-off a new statewide initiative, Entrepreneurship Indiana. The program includes a new digital doorway at www.entrepreneurshipindiana.com, as well as the 2022 Entrepreneurship Indiana Yearbook, which spotlights 100 founders from around the state.

During a live “Shark Tank” style pitch competition, regional entrepreneurs – Otho Farrow from Metropolis Greens, Annie Johnson from Take Care, South Bend and Matt Koerner from HelloFrom – vied for $5,000 in funding. Judges Amish Shah, President and CEO of Kem Krest, Titi Obasanya, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Elevate Ventures, and Regina Emberton, CEO of ChoiceLight, Inc., awarded $2,000 to HelloFrom, and $1,500 each to Metropolis Greens and Take Care, South Bend.

The day included tailored programming for entrepreneurs, investors, or enthusiasts with sessions featuring Julie Heath, Vice President of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), serial entrepreneur Devin Biek; Susan Ford, COO of Graham Allen Partners; Matt Burkett, Deputy Director for Small Business, Crane Naval Base; and Andy Alexander, a certified government Contracting Assistance Specialist and Certified Procurement Professional. In addition, entrepreneurs had the opportunity to meet with specialized service providers offering advice during Professional Services Speed Dating.

Founder Factory takes place during Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrated Nov. 14-20, 2022. Hartley announced the date for Founder Factory 23 – Nov. 15, 2023.

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About Startup South Bend – Elkhart

The mission of Startup South Bend – Elkhart, a non-profit initiative of the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership is to promote and foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the South Bend – Elkhart region. Startup South Bend – Elkhart works to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in the regional community, identify and nurture new business startups, and support the growth of existing high potential businesses. For more information about Startup South Bend – Elkhart, visit startupsouthbendelkhart.com.

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting, and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.

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Entrepreneur Profile: Myriam Nicodemus

Entrepreneur Profile: Myriam Nicodemus

EM EN & Myriam Nicodemus Photography/Film

As a child, Myriam Nicodemus moved to South Bend from Guatemala with her family, seeking political asylum. Living in a new country where she hardly understood the language and knew no one, visual storytelling became her comfort. She was obsessed with the slick photos in magazines and narratives of movies and documentaries. This love for visual storytelling carried her through transitions in her life – particularly moves across the U.S. and to Germany as a military spouse and young mom. Ultimately, she found a way to make this passion her career. She is now the founder and CEO of EM EN and Commercial Photographer for her photography and videography business, Myriam Nicodemus Photography/Film, based in South Bend.

Her love of documentary film is what led her to a career in photography. Myriam’s son had just begun school, and she looked at her career options. She was told that photojournalism was the best first step when starting a career in documentary film, so she walked down to the local newspaper, the Waynesville Daily Guide, and offered to take photos for them – for free and with no experience – eager to learn anything and everything.

“I walked in – I don’t know how the hell I got the guts – but I went in and asked ‘Can I shoot for you? You don’t have to even pay me; I just want to learn as much as I can,’” Myriam said. “I don’t know if she saw how excited and driven I was to do it, or if she saw something in the photos, but she called me back and said, ‘I can’t let you do it for free – I have to pay you.’ To me, I had just scored my dream job. I was paid $15 per photo and was tasked with weekly features. Now I get to get paid, work for a newspaper, and have my photos printed, which is such a big deal to me still.”

Two years later she was promoted to staff photographer only to have the military assign her then-husband back to Germany. This meant, as with every move, Myriam once again needed to start over. She volunteered her time as the Historian for the Grafenwoehr Military Spouses Club, and got to photograph for the Bavarian Times and the 7th Army JMTC Public Affairs Office in Grafenwoehr, Germany, before starting a home-based photography and videography business while stationed there.

She built her business by documenting once-in-a-lifetime moments for other military families stationed overseas that they weren’t able to share with their families back in the States. She volunteered for the Grafenwoehr Housing Office, making videos for military families introducing the area to help make moves easier. Her love of documentaries was reflected in the footage she caught in these brief glimpses of personal family moments, far away from home, as was her ability to relate to the often-solitary lifestyle of military families. Then came the call that would change the trajectory of her career. She thought it was a prank at first. A production company out of California contacted her looking to use her footage of military members and their families in a series of Veterans Day ads for Walmart to be aired nationally.

“With that money, I bought gear I needed that I still use to this day,” she said. “I have no idea how they found me, this random company in California.”

In 2014, she moved back to South Bend, and once again had to start over. She had a new market to learn since the bulk of her entrepreneurial experience had been overseas. During this time, she participated in local programs for entrepreneurs, learning about business practices in general, but found the best teacher for her creative industry was hands-on experience and trial and error. Myriam’s mantras have always been the two key mindsets that developed over her life.

“I have the immigrant mentality of ‘anything is possible through hard work,’ and then add to that the military mentality of ‘you don’t have time to waste, life is fragile’” she said.

She found her primary local competition in commercial photography and filmmaking was established marketing agencies. For an up-and-coming artist to break into the market was difficult, and even more so for a woman in a male-dominated field. Myriam saw an opportunity to help level the playing field between the agencies and the artists needing work, which led to the founding of EM EN. Myriam wanted to create a physical space for the independent artists to work out of – not only as a studio space that could be used for shoots but as a conference room available for meetings, event space, and a space to host workshops related to the industry. She wanted to give artists an opportunity to present themselves as professionally as the agencies to help freelancers be taken seriously. She also wanted to refocus the relationship between regional artists from competitors to a connected circle of talent in the photography and film industry that shares knowledge, support, and equipment with peers.

“I needed to create a space where anybody who does have questions can come and ask and not have it be a secret,” she said. “I will have professionals in our industry come and hold workshops on very specific topics and as a result, we all level up as a creative community because we all now have the tools to create for a living. Now we know something we wouldn’t have as easily learned because of not working in larger markets such as New York or L.A. that have amazing resources.”

As EM EN – named after a combination of Myriam and her son Ethan’s initials, also a creative – becomes more established, Myriam is currently working on programming centered around building professional artists in all fields, not just photography and film. EM EN’s goal has always been to be a resource for creatives so that they can work in their industries full-time.

“EM EN began as a resource for photographers and filmmakers and is now building programming for many more disciplines and creating job opportunities for other creatives such as audio engineers, actors, models, and content creators,” she said. “The best part is that local businesses will be able to afford content and thrive along with us because of what we can now offer to them with all the different skill levels in our community, not to mention being able to partner with marketing companies and allowing them to offer more services as well – all while creating jobs for creatives in our region. EM EN is also looking to provide all of these opportunities and hands-on experience to students in the area, with the hopes of inspiring and showing them that it is possible for them to pursue their passion for being professional artists.”

Back when she was looking to get a foot in the door at the Missouri newspaper, she had to search to find representation among women in the industry. Thanks to her editor DawnDee Bostwick at the Waynesville Daily Guide, she was provided an opportunity to work and learn in her dream job industry. A Google search of female National Geographic photographers helped Myriam find her inspiration, and now she would like to inspire young women in turn.

“You have to put yourself out there and you have to go and meet young girls, so they can see other versions and possibilities for themselves,” she said. “I don’t want to create programs that are only for girls, I just need to find more of them to join all of us. They have to be out there. There has to be others excited about his career field.”

To learn more about EM EN, visit www.emen.co.

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Meet the Team: Aidan Battista

Startup South Bend – Elkhart is excited to introduce our new Coordinator, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem, Aidan Battista!

A recent graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, Aidan is a South Bend native. He found during his college years, traveling north up U.S. 31 back home always brought surprises as he spotted new additions to the area.

“Whenever I would come back from college, every single time I would see something new – this place is really transforming,” Aidan said. “The drive in, from my freshman year to my senior year, was drastically different. South Bend is really popping off right now!”

Growing up in the South Bend – Elkhart region, the St. Joseph High School graduate remembers a time when the talk of the area was focused more on urban decay and closing businesses than growth and development.

“I remember when South Bend was named a ‘dying city,’ which was weird to me, since this is my home, and I have had so many great experiences here,” he said. “I know so many people who come here just to raise their families or come here because it is a good place to be. I love South Bend. We’ve come a long way from those ‘dying’ days.”

The mission of Startup South Bend – Elkhart is to promote and foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the South Bend – Elkhart region. The organization works to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in the regional community, identify and nurture new business startups, and support the growth of existing high potential businesses. It provides an ample network of resources for entrepreneurs at all levels of launch, and hosts programs such as HustleSBE for minority and woman entrepreneurs, as well as the upcoming Founder Factory: A Startup Summit for South Bend – Elkhart.

“There’s a lot of great things about the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Everybody seems genuinely invested in trying to help other people out – trying to contribute to the atmosphere of growing. It’s really unique. There are organizations that could easily work on their own, but they don’t. There’s a spirit of collaboration that is so beneficial.”

In his position of Coordinator, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem, Aidan implements the entrepreneurship initiatives for Startup South Bend – Elkhart and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. He works closely with dozens of cross-sector partners on projects and events while engaging diverse communities and stakeholders.

“Startup South Bend – Elkhart provides resources for entrepreneurs, from contacts to exposure to capital, to creating an atmosphere where they can find what they need. We bring connectivity. I see my role here as working to create opportunities for our region’s entrepreneurs. If I have an opportunity to contribute to that, there’s nothing more I can ask for.”

You can contact Aidan at abattista@southbendelkhart.org.

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Hammel, SIMBA Chain Named Elevate Award Winners at Kinetic Conference

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart region was well-represented at the Elevate Awards, announced during the Fifth Annual Kinetic Conference on September 20 in Indianapolis. Iris Hammel, Executive Director and co-founder of RISE (Regional Innovation and Startup Education) was named North Central Indiana Community Champion of 2021. In addition, Plymouth-based SIMBA Chain, a provider of accessible blockchain solutions, was also recognized for having the largest financing round of 2021 in Indiana.

“It is wonderful to see these South Bend – Elkhart entrepreneurial superstars honored statewide,” said Susan Ford, Chair of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Entrepreneurship Committee. “Our region is home to a creative ecosystem and these recognitions from Elevate Ventures show once again our area is a leader in developing and supporting startups.”

The Community Champion awards recognize individuals who are advocates for innovation and entrepreneur efforts in their region. Iris Hammel has served as Executive Director of RISE since 2017. The organization works with high school and college students, as well as community members, to develop entrepreneurial skills. Other Community Champions included Northeast Indiana’s Dr. Michael Mirro of Parkview Health, South Central Indiana’s Cindy Frey of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, and Southwest Indiana’s Mark Schroeder of German American Bank.

The Largest Financing Round award is given to the company that closed the largest funding round in 2021 in which Elevate Ventures participated. SIMBA Chain closed a $25 million round in September that was led by Valley Capital Partners and included participation from Elevate Ventures, the Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Stanford Law School Venture Fund and various angel investors.

The Kinetic Conference, powered by Elevate Ventures, brings together entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and ecosystem builders in Indiana with a focus on high-growth, high-potential startups. More than 1,100 people have attended the event over the last five years. The Elevate Awards debuted in 2019 to honor entrepreneurs, businesses, and ecosystem builders for their impact on Indiana’s entrepreneurship community.

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About Startup South Bend – Elkhart
The mission of Startup South Bend – Elkhart, a non-profit initiative of the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership is to promote and foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the South Bend – Elkhart region. Startup South Bend – Elkhart works to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in the regional community, identify and nurture new business startups, and support the growth of existing high potential businesses. For more information about Startup South Bend – Elkhart, visit startupsouthbendelkhart.com.

About Elevate Ventures
Elevate Ventures is a private venture development organization that nurtures and develops emerging and existing high-growth businesses into high-performing, Indiana-based companies. Elevate Ventures accomplishes this by providing access to capital, rigorous business analysis and robust advisory services that connect companies with the right mix of resources businesses need to succeed long term. To learn more about Elevate Ventures, visit elevateventures.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
sniespodziany@southbendelkhart.org

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South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Brings Community Leaders Together at “Rally the Region”

GRANGER, Ind. (Aug. 11, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership) debuted the “Five Cs” of its core purpose to an audience of community leaders at its inaugural “Rally the Region” event on August 4. Bringing together partners and stakeholders from the Regional Partnership’s five county region – Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph counties in Indiana and Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan – the event included updates on activities and the Regional Partnership’s initiatives, including the 2021 Annual Report, the $50 million READI (Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative) grant award process, and November’s upcoming Founder Factory event. Formerly known as the Regional Opportunities Forum, this was the first time this event was held in person since 2020 and marked the first formal introduction for Bethany Hartley since she was named President and CEO of the organization in May of this year.

The organization debuted the “Five Cs,” distilling the core purpose of the Regional Partnership:

  • Communicate though storytelling and reporting
  • Convene through committees, councils, and boards
  • Catalyze, via the power of convening and communicating, to secure funding with the intention of catalyzing inclusive economic growth
  • Collaborate by working with partners to advance the region
  • Create opportunities where there is an identified needs gap

“It is our job to ensure you are equipped with the tools and resources available to support attracting more talent to our region and highlighting the accessibility, generosity, and opportunities available here,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the Regional Partnership. “When you’re selling this region to your friends, children, grandchildren, new employees, we want you to lead with a better story than it’s cheap to live here. If we look at the South Bend – Elkhart region as a product – we aren’t a bargain bin half-off VCR, we are the bedazzled Swiss Army Knife – functional, multi-faceted, humble, yet resilient with a little flair.”

Rally the Region also included the unveiling of Founder Factory 2022: A Startup Summit for South Bend – Elkhart. In its second year, event is happening November 16, 2022, at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart. Created for entrepreneurs, investors and enthusiasts, Founder Factory will feature a keynote presentation from Jewel Burks Solomon, managing partner of Collab Capital and Head of Google for Startups. She will be joined by her partner at Collab Capital, Justin Dawkins.

A continuing topic of interest in the community is the distribution of the $50 million in READI grants. South Bend – Elkhart was one of five regions in Indiana to receive the full award. The Regional Partnership announced that it has worked alongside the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority to produce a Quality of Place RFP process that is underway with the expectation that the projects will create the physical spaces and expansion of programmatic resources that will catalyze the organization’s 2030 goals. According to Hartley, without the grant funding, this was unlikely to have occurred at the rate now anticipated.

Rally the Region wrapped up with a brief panel discussion featuring Hartley; Jess Koscher, Chief Executive Officer of Write Connections | strategy + design and Vice Chair of the Regional Partnership’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; and John DeSalle, Executive Engineer-in-Residence at iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame and Chair of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority. Jeff Rea, President of the South Bend Regional Chamber and Vice Chair of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Board of Directors, acted as moderator.

“We’re scrappy,” Koscher said. “We have grit. We continue to work on things. We create opportunities and bridges where we know there’s going to be gaps. And we do that throughout this region. The Regional Partnership helps us do it better.”

To view photos from the event, click here.

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About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.

Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
sniespodziany@southbendelkhart.org

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South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Welcomes New Staff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 29, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership welcomed five new team members to its ranks this spring. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership) is a collaboration of economic development partners in the South Bend – Elkhart region, which encompasses 47 communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.

The new team members include:

  • Lisa Buchanan, Director, Education and Workforce Solutions: A recent transplant to the area, Buchanan brings 15 years of workforce development experience to the team. In this position, she manages and supports educational and workforce initiatives, increasing the availability of work-ready talent for key industry sectors in the region.
  • Lori Flotow, Manager, Office Operations: Performing a wide variety of office operations and executive administrative support, Flotow is the first line of communication with key constituents, executing multiple administrative duties of the office and performing a wide variety of duties.
  • Liz Folkerts, Manager, Digital Marketing and Public Relations: With a background in journalism and marketing, Folkerts creates and promotes content on behalf of the Regional Partnership. She oversees web content, from initial strategy to day-to-day updates and management of our public-facing platforms including social media.
  • Taryn MacFarlane, Vice President, Regional Initiatives: Bringing an expertise in grant writing, management and administration, MacFarlane serves as the primary staff administrator for the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA) and supports the Regional Partnership’s implementation of the READI grant program.
  • Bianca Tirado, Director, Strategic Initiatives: The previous Chief Deputy City Clark/Chief of Staff for the City of South Bend and a recent master’s graduate from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Tirado provides management and coordination for the Talent Attraction and Retention, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives of the Regional Partnership.

“Our fresh staff members bring an array of skills and experience to our team,” said Bethany Hartley, newly named President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “These new members, combined with our established team, allow us to increase the impact of our work for the region though data-driven decision making. This potential for growth is exciting for our organization and I look forward to guiding us in this new direction.”

The new team members join the rest of the Regional Partnership team:

  • Dan Buckenmeyer, Sr. Specialist, Economic Development: Buckenmeyer works with the South Bend International Airport to increase the direct and indirect economic benefits of airport operations throughout the region. This includes real estate development, international trade, FTZ use, cargo service development, public-private partnerships and more to move both people and goods.
  • Bethany Hartley, President and CEO: Hartley was named President and CEO of the organization in May of 2022. She has over a decade of experience in non-profit leadership, primarily focused on economic development and entrepreneurship. She previously held the position of Chief Strategy Officer with the Regional Partnership and led the organization as interim CEO.
  • Sarah Niespodziany, Vice President, Marketing and Communications: Niespodziany oversees planning and executing marketing and communications efforts for the Regional Partnership and acts as the primary media contact for the organization. She manages brand strategy, events, stakeholder relations, and execution of other initiatives.
  • Jill Scicchitano, Chief Operating Officer: Scicchitano oversees the key business functions of the organization, pursuing continuous improvement and operational excellence fostering growth and driving action toward positive community impact. Her enterprise-wide leadership role takes a holistic, systems view and works to advance the regional economic development strategy.

The Regional Partnership is looking to fill one more position within the organization. For more information on the Manager, Innovation and Entrepreneurship position, click here.

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.

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Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
sniespodziany@southbendelkhart.org

The post South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Welcomes New Staff appeared first on South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership.

South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Names Bethany Hartley President and CEO

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (May 18, 2022) – The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership named Bethany Hartley its new President and Chief Executive Officer , the second in the organization’s history. Hartley succeeds founder Regina Emberton, who stepped down in February.

Hartley assumes the role effective Monday, May 23rd. She currently holds the title of Chief Strategic Officer (CSO) at the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership), a position she has held since 2020, and has been acting as interim CEO since Emberton’s exit. As CSO, she was responsible for translating strategies across functions and driving organizational change, supporting new working relationships and synergies across the organization, and establishing greater transparency and accountability. She led the organization in a period of unprecedented team growth earlier this year. Hartley joined the Regional Partnership as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion in 2018.

“Bethany’s passion for the region, its people and its continued growth is unmatched,” said Pete McCown, chair of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Board of Directors. “In her time with the organization, her impact has been felt across all the organization’s primary areas of focus: entrepreneurship, industry growth, education and workforce, talent attraction and retention, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. She played a key role in winning the READI grant funds from the state and continued to grow as a leader not only for the organization, but the region and beyond. We expect her vision to carry the Regional Partnership into a new era.”

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership worked with executive search consultants Waverly Partners for an exhaustive nationwide CEO search. A search committee, made up of members of the Regional Partnership board and key regional stakeholders, made the final decision.

“It is with great enthusiasm and humility that I begin serving as the next President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership,” Hartley said. “We have a solid foundation, fostered by our team at the Regional Partnership, our dedicated board and committee members, and our partners across 47 smart, connected communities. I look forward to continuing to build on the momentum we have been developing for the past decade to create a region that is vibrant, innovative, and known across the country as a hub for startups, companies fueled by advanced technologies, and opportunity for all.”

Hartley has over a decade of experience in non-profit leadership, primarily focused on economic development and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, Hartley held leadership positions with RISE | Regional Innovation and Startup Education, Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, Family and Children’s Center, and the Women’s Business Development Center.

Hartley holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago and certificates from the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Non-Profit Administration, Babson College, and Catalyst Inc. Hartley is also active in a wide range of community activities, including serving as a board member of Startup Moxie Elkhart County, a steering committee member of the Engaging Women Conference, a committee member for Beacon Health Systems, and a champion and fundraiser for Girls on the Run of Northern Indiana.

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.

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Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
sniespodziany@southbendelkhart.org

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HustleSBE Graduate Highlight: Chef Monnese Plummer of Fancy Delights

HustleSBE Cohort Four Graduate: Chef Monnese Plummer

Name of Business: Fancy Delights

Website/Social Media: Click Here

Business Description: Fancy Delights is a catering business that specializes in desserts and comfort food from various forms of cuisines. We offer buffet, drop-off, and plated style catering for every occasion. We also participate in popup shops, markets, and many other community venues.

At what point did you realize the dream of your business was real?: “When my hobby developed into passion, I discovered that my dreams and desires were to serve others. The memories that I helped others create through my services as a chef made me realize that I could reach many more.”

What advice would you give to aspiring small business owners?: “To continue moving forward toward their inspirations and dreams. Take your time and build a support system for yourself. Utilize all resources around you and stay focused. Build positive relationships and stay true to your mission.”

Are you from the South Bend-Elkhart region?: “I am a South Bend native and was raised in this community. The South Bend – Elkhart region is a small, diverse community with a lot of leadership opportunities. Still lacking some cultural amenities, I hope to be able to help bridge the gap and continue to give back to the community. ”

Share your favorite business resource. Why is it your favorite?: “Mailchimp is a good business resource that I learned about while participating in HustleSBE. It helps create email marketing campaigns and keep track of your customer email listing. ”

To learn more about our HustleSBE Cohort Four graduates, click here.

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South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Appoints New Chairs to Regional Economic Development Strategy Committees

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Feb. 10, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership recently appointed the following individuals as Chairs to the specified Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) committees.

  • Entrepreneurship Committee – Susan Ford, Partner, Graham Allen Partners
  • Talent Attraction and Retention Committee – Andrew Wiand, Executive Director, enFocus

Formed out of the region’s 2016 “Plan for Prosperity, Growth and Inclusion Version 1.0,” each committee represents the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s strategic drivers identified as the underlying principles for a comprehensive regional development plan:

  • Educating a world-class workforce
  • Recruiting and retaining great talent
  • Attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries
  • Promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities
  • Helping entrepreneurs

“Volunteer leadership roles require a significant commitment of time and energy,” said South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Chief Strategy Officer, Bethany Hartley. “Our regional successes are a direct result of the collaboration and dedication of strong leaders representing our 47 smart, connected, communities.”

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership has a robust committee structure which facilitates ongoing regional collaboration and functions to ensure efficient and impactful use of resources, rapid identification of challenges, and the coordination of solutions. Committees are comprised of industry leaders, public sector officials, post-secondary thought leaders, and entrepreneurs.

The slate of REDS Committee Chairs currently serving as committee representatives on the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Board of Directors is listed below:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Education and Workforce Committee

Entrepreneurship Committee

Industry Growth Committee

  • Shelley Klug, Economic and Business Development Manager, American Electric Power
  • Committee Members

Talent Attraction and Retention Committee

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership and their Board of Directors recognizes and thanks Matt Davis of ITAMCO, Chuck Lehman of Lehman & Lehman, and Phil Smoker of Smoker Craft for their leadership to their respective committees and to the South Bend – Elkhart region.

For more information on the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Regional Economic Development Strategy, click here.

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit SouthBendElkhart.org.

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Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
sniespodziany@southbendelkhart.org

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