opportunities for entrepreneurs
loans help get them off the ground
Indiana Edition Cover
MADISON, Ind. (November 2009) After decades
of dedicating his career to Fortune 500 companies, such as Procter and
Gamble and Hewlett Packard, Morgan Griffith found himself among the
faceless millions of unemployed workers let go because of corporate
Instead of being a victim of the global economic crisis, however, Griffith
fought back. He used what some would call a setback to pursue a dream
hed had for years; he decided to take a chance and open his own
Already an avid athlete as a competitive unicyclist, Griffith used his
passion for fitness as a tool for his new career and on Oct. 16 opened
Snap Fitness, a 24-hour fitness center, located on the hilltop in Madison,
Griffith isnt the only one who has refused to let the dark economic
news and predictions of the last year dampen enthusiasm for pursuing
a lifelong dream. Throughout Madison, numerous enterprising people have
opened or are working to open small business and have actually used
the economic downturn to their advantage.
The economic news remains grim. According to Hoosier Data Inc., non-seasonally
adjusted unemployment in Jefferson County was at 9.5 percent; the state
non-seasonally adjusted rate was 9.5 percent, while the U.S. rate was
also 9.5 percent.
According to state economic forecast by Indiana University Bloomingtons
Kelley School of Business, employment is expected to drop through early
next year, with unemployment reaching around 10.9 percent. At that point,
total job losses are expected to exceed 195,000, or 6.6 percent of pre-recession
peak employment. Since the third quarter of 2007, Indiana employment
has been declining at a rate of 86,000 per year. For comparison, during
the period 1991-2006, the state economy gained an average of almost
29 thousand jobs per year.
by Konnie McCollum
poses in her new shop, Harriettes Knit Knook, located on
Main Street. It is
scheduled to open Nov. 12.
The forecast model suggests that especially with
regard to employment, the recession will continue to hit Indiana hard
over the rest of this year. Instead of looking for a job, many
people have decided to create their own.
Usually in a recession, it is the small businesses that lead us
out of it, said Blayr Barnard, regional director of the Southeast
Indiana Small Business Center, of which Jefferson County is a member.
Small businesses that start up and survive recessions tend to
put in place good plans that help them succeed.
The center provides free and totally confidential counseling to anyone
interested in starting a new business or an already existing business.
We offer a full range of business services all for free,
said Barnard. We are here to make small businesses succeed.
In 2008, the center assisted 85 clients, helping them start or buy 12
new businesses, created 45 jobs and secured $1.7 million of financing
in Jefferson County. The SBDC headquarters until recently had been located
in the Venture Out Business Center, 975 Industrial Dr., Madison, but
recently it moved to New Albany, Ind., to expand its outreach.
We encourage every person who has an idea for a business to at
least come in and see if its feasible, said Barnard. While
statistics show that two-thirds of small businesses fail within their
first five years, independent analysis shows that 80 percent of companies
started with SBDC assistance remain in business eight years later.
When Griffith and his wife, Caren, decided to open their fitness gym,
it was after months of careful research and planning. They are from
Vevay, Ind., but decided to locate their business in Madison because
of the towns size, its affability, and its need for the types
of fitness services Snap Fitness offers.
I think we offer something unique, said Morgan Griffith.
This is more of a community gym than others. Our hours accommodate
the shift workers and others whose schedules dont fit a typical
gym, and we carry state of the art equipment.
Although open only a short time, the gym has already had an influx of
people, including many who have never been inside a gym before. Believe
it or not, 4 a.m. seems to be a popular time for people to work out,
The gym is equipped with high tech surveillance equipment and monitoring
devices for the safety of members during non-staffed hours. Security
cards are used to gain entrance into the gym. Personal trainers are
available for one-on-one training, and small group sessions are also
available. The Griffiths sons, Myles and Dylan, are also involved in
The bad economy is something the Griffiths are certainly aware of, but
they believe that now is as good a time as any.
Any time you open a business you worry, said Caren, who
also owns the Untangled Main hair salon in Vevay. You have to
plan carefully and have confidence. Caren is also a certified
yoga instructor and teaches classes at the YMCA in Switzerland County,
Harriette Parton, owner of the soon-to-open Harriettes Knit Knook,
103 E. Main, has been an avid knitter since her elementary school days.
She belongs to three knitting groups, and is a founder of the Sipn
Knit group in Madison.
She and her husband, Ron, are retirees living on a fixed income. Recent
changes in living and medical expenses stretched her budget beyond its
means. She knew she needed to do something to bring in some extra income;
she just didnt know what that something was.
A conversation kept recurring among the participants in the knitting
groups as to where and why knitters had to drive to larger cities to
get top quality yarn and supplies.
You must use top quality yarn to produce top quality items,
said Parton. But in order to get the type we need, knitters have
to travel all the way to Louisville, Ky., or Seymour, Ind., and other
larger communities to get supplies. Its so time consuming and
by Konnie McCollum
Griffith have opened
Snap Fitness gym on
the Madison hilltop. It is
located next to Hibbetts Sports and will offer
24-hour fitness hours.
She was eventually approached by another knitter who asked
her to consider opening a shop. The knitter knew Parton was an expert
in all things concerning knitting. After she thought about it, Parton
realized she could do something like that but wasnt sure if there
was a real need in the community or even if such a thing was possible.
I had meetings with people who loved the idea and were sure such
a shop would be successful, she said. In the meantime, I
began doing research on available buildings, loans, suppliers, inventory
and everything I could think of.
Parton went to the SBDC, and they helped her put together a viable business
plan that convinced the bank to give her a chance.
Harriettes Knit Knook, set to open mid-November, will carry top
quality yarn and other knitting supplies, such as needles, patterns
and limited knitted products. Custom-made items will be available on
a per-item order.
There will be classroom instruction, group knitting and even a mens
knitting night. We have women of all ages, both male and female
teenagers, children and many men who love to knit, she said.
She also understands the state the economy is in, but said, You
cant let dire economic news stop you. If people want your service,
then they will be there.
Beverly Gullion grew up in Madison but spent her adult life teaching
children in Scottsburg, Ind. After close to four decades as an educator,
Gullion retired from physically teaching children, but she never retired
her passion for teaching.
For 35 years, she had a dream hidden in her heart that never dimmed.
With her four children grown, time on her hands and financial stability,
Gullion decided now was the time to fulfill that dream.
This is the next step for me, she said.
Madison Imagination Station, located at 309 W. Main, will be developmentally
appropriate play center with educational opportunities for preschoolers
when it opens Dec. 6. There will be large themed play space, a stage
for productions, classrooms for rent, and a party room.
Imagination is the limit on what will be available, said
Gullion, who also founded the private Scottsburg Academy for gifted
children. We will let things evolve and develop as time
by Konnie McCollum
to open Madison
Imagination Station on
Main Street on Dec. 6.
She envisions musical classes, home education courses,
drama education, and other instruction taking place in the classroom
spaces, while preschool children develop their imaginations and develop
their skills in the play areas. Parents will be required to be on site
during their childrens playtime. The center is not a daycare.
Adam Davis has been a businessman in the area for decades. Hes
owned a bar and a furniture shop. Once again, he has decided to take
a chance on another business and has opened Davis and Son Bargain Barn,
2925 Clifty Dr.
Ive always been in business for myself, he said. While
there is no guarantee when you work for yourself, my heart wouldnt
be in it if I was working for someone else.
Davis, who actually opened his new bargain barn for his son, A. Troy
Davis, believes there is money readily available in the area. Look
at the parking lots of some of the area retailers. They are always full.
People are spending money on things they need, he said. If
you supply what they need, they will spend money with you.
Davis sells used furniture along with a variety of new items, including
toys, dolls, tools, sports memorabilia, NASCAR items, and socks. I
try to be competitive and get what people want and need.
Davis is also optimistic that the economy is recovering. He said it
is better than where it was months ago, and it is now starting to pick
up more steam. He isnt really worried, either, about the anticipated
year-long closing of the Milton-Madison Bridge in 2011. That is when
the 80-year-old bridge superstructure is to be replaced, if federal
grant funding comes through.
The bridge will be as big a problem as people let it be,
The recent spate of business openings has generated optimism among Madison
by Konnie McCollum
Davis has recently opened
Davis & Son Bargain Barn on
the Madison hilltop.
We are excited to see new businesses opening in
Madison, said Jenny Eggenspiller, the citys special projects
coordinator. We will work with small businesses any way we can
to help them succeed.
Eggenspiller said the city has a special low-interest micro loan program.
Small businesses that quality and are approved through a committee process
can receive up to $25,000 at a 4 percent interest.
The program, which started years ago through a grant, has already helped
three businesses this year. As people begin to pay back their
loans, more money is available to help new businesses, said Eggenspiller.
Any small business interested in the loan program should come
to City Hall and fill out an application.
The city is also working with the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce to
develop a program to target small business. In the past, the city budgeted
$5,000 for the SBDC for operating costs. Because the agency moved to
New Albany, that money was given to the chamber for its small business
We want to make sure the money remains in this county and is used
for local businesses, said Dave Collier, the chambers executive
director. We are doing our own research and development on what
is still needed and what gaps may be left in efforts to help small businesses.
Collier said small businesses are the backbone of our community,
and that there are signs the economy is slowly recovering. Entrepreneurs
are certainly adding to the community through their revenue, job creation
Back to November 2009