Marysville Entrepreneurial Center Creating Community for Entrepreneurs in Union County

A community of like-minded individuals can be an invaluable resource for a small business owner. The Marysville Entrepreneurial Center is providing just that, as well as other training resources and office space for small business owners in Union County.

Since its launch in 2008, the MEC has undergone changes, but is poised for continued growth and success under the new management of Chaz Freutel and Duane Hammer. The team has accomplished in six months what their one-year goal was for the center when they took the helm in March 2014.

When they took over there were two main goals – find more tenants and establish more on-going programming to show the need for such a facility.

“As of today we will be at full capacity so that’s nine offices we have filled with small businesses,” Hammer says. Goal one, done.

While Freutel works with the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center as well, that facility sees primarily tech-based ventures, “It’s a wide variety of different types of businesses that we have,” Hammer says in reference to the MEC.

An innovative community partnership is providing the MEC with two additional spaces. Marysville City schools opened a STEM-based high school at which the MEC will have a presence. Selected businesses will have the chance to operate within the school and interact with students and teachers.

“I think it’s going to be a really, really neat experience,” Freutel says. He hopes it will help students see the viability of entrepreneurialism and how they can translate ideas into businesses.

The MEC also has “hot-spot” space for drop-ins with services like free wi-fi and copying and scanning capabilities. Even the opportunity to drop-in and be surrounded by other entrepreneurs can mean great things for a business. Freutel cites a Kauffman Foundation study that found those who actively engaged in an entrepreneur center had a much higher chance of success. That’s reflected at the MEC with businesses that are regularly involved finding success and adding employees.

However, the MEC wants to be more than just a space provider. They want to attract businesses that want to be a part of a community and help each other. Hammer and Freutel and have cemented programming that aims towards this goal.

The on-going First Tuesdays brings three to four speakers to the center on the first Tuesday of the month to speak on topics pertinent to all business owners.

“We get a total of about 20 to 25 people attending those,” Hammer says. “We’re hoping that will increase as word gets out and that popularity of it increases.” Freutel says the majority of participants are non-tenants.

“Every time we have new people,” he adds. “It’s just a good way to let the community know that this kind of offering is available.”

Other programs like quarterly planning sessions where businesses must implement a 90-day plan keep owners accountable to their goals.

“The great part about it is we do it in a group setting,” Hammer says, with businesses ranging from startups to established. “But more importantly the discussions that they have with other business owners makes them realize that they aren’t the only ones that struggled, they are not the only ones that have issues.”

Building on this notion, the MEC will introduce “How’s Business?” It will be an opportunity for business owners to sit down with other business owner and just talk with no pre-set agenda or scheduled speakers.

Both give credit to the surrounding community for its efforts to help bolster the center.

“It’s been a great collaboration between the county, the city, the chamber of commerce and the business community, and the public in general,” Hammer says. Funding from the city and county has helped with programming and management of the facility.

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