Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State, Wabash Valley Small Business Development Center recognized for business development efforts

July 7, 2015

The Indiana Small Business Development Center has named Indiana State University its 2014 Small Business Partner of the Year.

"It's an honor to be recognized by the state," said Brien Smith, dean of the Scott College, where the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center is housed. "We provide some funding and support them in the ways that we can, but it's the ISBDC that does the heavy lifting to help small businesses."

It was the inaugural year for the award that was given at the Economic Development and Growth through Entrepreneurship (EDGE) Awards. It honors a partner who lends support and dedication to the Small Business Development Center's mission to make "a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of Indiana's small businesses by providing entrepreneurs expert guidance and a comprehensive network of resources."

"In the inaugural year, we wanted to honor Indiana State and Brien Smith, particularly, for their support," said Jacob Schpok, executive director of the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Indiana which has been affiliated with the university for at least 15 years. "We want to recognize partners who step up to help us beyond the financial resources or any contractual services, and ISU has been extremely helpful through the ebb and flow in how we provide resources in the west central part of the state."

That assistance can be seen through advisors Troy Phelps and Dick Pittelkow, who watched their clients, Soapy Soap Company and Myers Market, snag EDGE awards during a ceremony at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway during Indiana's Entrepreneurship Week in June.

The awards recognize small businesses that work daily to grow Indiana's economy. Recipients are chosen by their regional center, which nominate clients from the agency's 10 regional offices in the state in two categories - emerging business and established business.

For the West Central region, Phelps' client, Soapy Soap Company, received the award as an established business and Pittelkow's client, Myers' Market, was recognized as an emerging business.

"I was pleased that we were able to nominate someone from Greencastle," said Pittelkow, who has been a part-time business advisor for six-and-a-half years following his retirement from Old National Bank. "We represent 10 counties and Terre Haute and Bloomington are the biggest cities in the region. It's been difficult over the years to have an exciting business start outside of those two cities, so I was pleased that Myers' Market was recognized."

In 2013, Pittelkow met Mitch Myers at a Business Development Center workshop in Greencastle for launching a business. Myers attended three additional workshops. Myers came to Pittelkow with his idea to have a meat market similar to the "old-style butchers" with meat that is locally-grown, organic and without preservatives. He also wanted to include the sale of sandwiches inside the market for an additional revenue stream.

Myers worked with Pittelkow on a detailed business plan and financial projections that helped him to obtain a loan and open Myers' Market almost two years ago.

"(Myers) took an idea that isn't new and combined it with having fresh meat sandwiches for lunch, having organic and locally grown meats and other products, and it's turned into a very successful business in Greencastle," Pittelkow said.

"(Receiving the award) wasn't something I expected when I started the business, but it was an honor to be chosen to represent the area," said Myers, who was also recognized by the city of Greencastle as a young, successful entrepreneur prior to the EDGE Awards. "The Indiana Small Business Development Center helped me with all of the business planning, the financials and we spent six months talking and really going through fine deals of the business. That support helped push me to continue to find out everything I needed to get the market going."

Phelps, who has been with the Small business Development Center office in Bloomington for about seven years, said an EDGE Award is a "huge recognition for a small business."

"It is a state award and only two companies in every region are recognized, especially because our region is big," he said. "In (my client's case), Soapy Soap Company was also recognized by the city of Bloomington, which gave them a proclamation calling it ‘Soapy Soap Company Day.'"

As the company has expanded, Phelps said Soapy Soap is coming up with innovative ways to use its raw materials to create a variety of products and now operates globally.

"They have taken advantage of all of the local and state resources that are available to them," Phelps said. "It's always important to reach out to your community and community leaders to let them help you succeed. People often spin their wheels trying to get businesses up and going, but they really just need to ask for help. Organizations, like the Indiana Small Business Development Center, are there to help."

That help is appreciated by small business owners, like Mohammed Mahdi and Anthony Duncan, co-owners of Soapy Soap Company in Bloomington.

"As a company, it's exciting to be given such an award and to be recognized for our hard work," said Mahdi, who added that this is the company's first award of this kind. "We have sought out community resources to better our business and appreciate the tools."

"This is a great way for small businesses to be recognized by the community and the state," Duncan said. "We're honored and appreciate the recognition we've received."

From helping with market research to developing a business plan, Pittelkow said the Indiana Small Business Development Center is there to help entrepreneurs succeed.

"It's always exciting for business advisors when they have a client that is passionate about the business they want to start and willing to do the work," Pittelkow said. "Everybody likes recognition and an award like this is validation that the winner has done things right and people are proud."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or