Announcing the Inaugural 2022 Entrepreneurs of the Year Award Winners

By Ted A. Baker, CEO/Executive Director, Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc.—

MUNCIE, IN—Since May of this year, the Innovation Connector has been planning and preparing for Entrepreneur Showcase Week in Muncie.  As a reminder, this event is unique to the Muncie community, and no other community has attempted anything like this.  Entrepreneur Showcase Week comprises twenty workshops, panel discussions, discussion groups, and networking groups during one week – all at the Innovation Connector facility.  Because of our very supportive sponsors, all but one event is FREE.

Why should you attend part of or all of the events during Entrepreneur Showcase Week?  Because there is something that can benefit all entrepreneurs and business owners.  I know that most business-minded people consider themselves “life-long learners.”  There is always more to learn, knowledge to share, and data to keep up with.  Over fifty Muncie area business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders will participate as presenters and panelists that will highlight topics such as:

  • Creative Marketing
  • Computers, IT, and Security for Businesses
  • How to Start a Business & How to Start/Grow a Restaurant
  • Developing a Startup Tech Business
  • Continuing Educational Opportunities for Business Owners
  • Mental Health Awareness and Work-Life Balance
  • Makers as Entrepreneurs
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Bookkeeping and Accounting
  • Starting a Side-Gig
  • Providing Excellent Customer Experiences (from the Disney model)
  • And more

Additional sessions include a Tailgate Celebration for all entrepreneurs and business owners, a Women’s Brunch to celebrate International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and the Opening Kickoff Celebration to start Showcase Week at 8 am Monday, November 14.  Join us for a Mayoral Proclamation of Entrepreneur Showcase Week, donuts and coffee with Mayor Ridenour, and the Entrepreneurs of the Year Awards presentation.

The 2022 award winners include a special group of talented entrepreneurs in the Muncie community.  Each award winner contributes their success to others who have worked with them as their businesses started and grew.  So, in the true Spirit of Entrepreneurship, we are thrilled to announce the first-ever Entrepreneurs of the Year, and congratulations to each winner.

2022 Technology Business Entrepreneur of the Year

Kurt Harrington, Founder

OEM Combustion Service LLC

2022 Life-Style Business Entrepreneur of the Year

Bernisa Elliott

BE’s Beauty Inc. & Elliott Property Rentals

2022 Restaurant Entrepreneur of the Year

Lynn A. Moore

Café at the Crossing

2022 Community-Impact Entrepreneur of the Year

Tiara Hicks

Rosebud Coffee House

2022 Legacy Mentor Award

Peggy Cenova

East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center

Please join us during this Kickoff Celebration to celebrate the winners’ impact on our community. If you plan to attend, RSVP to so we can ensure we have plenty of donuts!

Now is the time to celebrate entrepreneurs and business owners. And now is the time to register to attend events during Entrepreneur Showcase Week – go to  For additional information, contact the Innovation Connector at 765-285-4900 or by email: at


Provide Your Clients with Excellent Customer Experience with this NEW Class

It’s almost time for Entrepreneur Showcase Week! We’ve got 20 great events in one week for those of you wanting to learn more about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Our newest added class, Providing Excellent Customer Experience, will be a practical session for all business owners and entrepreneurs discussing various aspects of excellent experiences and ways to implement them into their daily business. Join us for this FREE class on Thursday, November 17, 2022 from 6:00- 7:30 PM. You don’t want to miss this incredible event. You can register now at:  See you there!

Enneagram 101 – A Free Introductory Course

Maybe you’ve heard a lot about the Enneagram? Maybe you’ve even taken an online test?  But, what’s the real use and benefit of the Enneagram and knowing your number?

Join us for this free introductory workshop that will not only introduce you to the history, structure, and benefits of the Enneagram but also help you begin to truly discover your Enneagram number. This workshop will be led by Jennifer Stanley, an Enneagram guide and founder of Living Well. Jennifer is a relatable, fun, and knowledgeable teacher who will help you take practical steps toward number discovery and why it matters in your life, business, and relationships.

This workshop will be held on October 31st from 8-10 am and also on November 8th from 6-7 pm at the Innovation Connector located at 1208 W White River Blvd, Muncie, IN 47303.



Resident Client Spotlight – Tisha Gierhart

 Tisha Gierhart was hired as Shafer Leadership Academy’s first Program Director in January 2014. She is primarily responsible for all activities related to the development, delivery, and assessment of leadership programs presented by Shafer Leadership Academy. In this role, she focuses on building collaborative relationships with Shafer Leadership Academy’s participants and partners. Her work reflects her passion for making a difference, building relationships, and motivating others. She believes in leading by example and developing purposeful connections. Find out more about the Shafer Leadership Academy at

Why Entrepreneur Showcase Week?

By Ted Baker CEO/Executive Director, Muncie, Innovation Connector, Inc.—

MUNCIE, IN—With about one month to go before the Innovation Connector engages in the most extensive series of events for businesses and entrepreneurs in its history, I was recently asked the question, “Why is the Innovation Connector doing this?”  I thought that was a really good question, and I want to share my answer with you.

Over the past twelve-plus years of being at the Innovation Connector, I have met with many entrepreneurs and business owners who requested a need for training, services, or connections.  Being a business owner is difficult and oftentimes very lonely.  Understanding where to get a question answered about a business issue or how to make the best decision for a business is not easy to do.  While one part of the Innovation Connector’s mission is to serve the technology-based entrepreneurs with offices in our center, we also believe it is important for us to serve the businesses of the greater Muncie community.  We have done this over the years by coaching business owners, hosting workshops and educational opportunities, and partnering with other entrepreneurial service organizations.  The East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center and Bankable are organizations we have teamed with to provide these services.

As I have highlighted in previous articles, the Innovation Connector’s mission is “To see job creation by providing guidance and entrepreneurial resources for individuals seeking to start or grow businesses in East Central Indiana,” Our Vision Statement further states, “Our passion is to see that each person who has a dream to start or grow a business has every resource to be successful and the economy of East Central Indiana flourishes.” Entrepreneur Showcase Week is aligned with both our mission and vision and over the past years, our organization has served hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners.

Entrepreneur Showcase Week will be a platform to expand our services, partnerships, and reach in the entrepreneurial community. There will be twenty separate events in one week at the Innovation Connector about various topics and best practices that we have observed as needs of entrepreneurs and business owners.  Entrepreneur Showcase Week is not “about” the Innovation Connector.  It is about the people we serve daily – business owners and others who want to start businesses. It is about providing resources and answering questions that we have been asked over the past years.  Entrepreneur Showcase Week is about networking with like-minded people. Those who dream like us and have big plans like us.  The workshops, panel discussions, and events are mostly led by business owners and entrepreneurs in our community. Entrepreneur Showcase Week is about learning together how we can make our businesses more successful, more profitable, and sustainable.

Entrepreneur Showcase Week is also a celebration.  A celebration of business owners who are successful, a celebration of entrepreneurs with dreams and aspirations of starting a business someday, and a celebration of a community that supports local business owners.  The Innovation Connector’s theme for this year is “Celebrating Entrepreneurs in 2022,” which is what we will continue to do.

This week would not be possible without the support of amazing sponsors and participating businesses.  Again, because of our generous sponsors, nearly all of the events are FREE to attend.  Thank you, sponsors, for investing in the Muncie business community.  A listing of all sponsors, as well as a complete listing of all events and descriptions, can be found at  If you plan to attend any of the events during Entrepreneur Showcase Week, please register at the same link.  Space is limited for most of the events, so register early to secure your place.  Since opening registrations on September 19, we have received many registrations, and events are filling up quickly.

Please come and celebrate with us – with your community.  Entrepreneur Showcase Week, November 14 – 19.  Visit, or call the Innovation Connector at 765-285-4900 for more information.

Mastering the Basics of Excel

If you are interested in an introductory Excel course, or if you simply need to refresh your memory on the software program, this is the training for you! Master the basics of Excel in this 3-hour live workshop powered by Innovation Connector Inc. Lunch will be provided starting at 11:30 am.


Thursday, November 3rd, 12:00-3:00 pm


Innovation Connector

This is an interactive course. Please bring your own laptop/device.

Our instructor, Amy Logan, will have you walking through Excel like a boss on your next project.

When you are finished with these sessions you will be able to:

  • Navigate Excel so you can find everything you need
  • Use basic formulas to make calculations more reliable and quickly
  • Spruce up your work with formatting, borders, and charts

The registration fee for this 3-hour course is $125 per person. Service fees may apply.
If you have any questions, please reach out to Natalie Smith, at, or call 765-285-4900.

To register: click here

Resident Client Spotlight – Ryan Ellsworth

Ryan Ellsworth is an architect working remotely for Studio M Architecture and Planning located in Carmel, Indiana. They started the practice with 6 people in 2013, and they currently have 42 employees and are looking to grow. They specialize in multi-family and mixed-use projects but work on all project types at home in Indiana and across the country. Architecture is a fast-paced but rewarding field where you get to dream things up and if many things go right, watch it get built in the real world. Check out their website to see some of our latest projects:

Entrepreneur Showcase Week: Registration Now Open!

The wait is up, registration is now open for Entrepreneur Showcase Week. A complete listing of all twenty events is available at Here are several events from this special week.

Entrepreneur Showcase Week begins with a Mayoral Proclamation and press announcement by Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour.  The Innovation Connector will present several awards at this event: – Technology-Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Life-Style Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Community Impact Entrepreneur of the Year, and Restaurant Entrepreneur of the Year. A special Entrepreneur Mentor Legacy Award will also be awarded. All of this will be followed by coffee and donuts with Mayor Ridenour.

Several events will focus on resources for women-owned, minority-owned, and underserved businesses. These events include “Navigating Opportunities for Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Businesses” presented by the Small Business Administration, and an event with the Ball State Entrepreneurial Institute’s Chic Innovate Program celebrating women entrepreneurs.

There will be practical business sessions to assist every kind of business owner and entrepreneur. Some of these sessions include; “Tech Business Ideation Bootcamp – Starting and Growing a Tech Business,” “Continuing Education Opportunities for Small Business Owners,” “Start Your Own Business Workshop,” “Bookkeeping and Accounting – What your Small Business Needs to Know,” and “Creatively Marketing Your Business.” And so much more! You don’t want to miss this amazing week of events as we celebrate entrepreneurs. Click HERE to learn more and to register for the events.

Registrations for Entrepreneur Showcase Week Now Open

MUNCIE, IN—Entrepreneurs play a major role in impacting nearly every component of the economy – as the biggest source of jobs and income for employees in the nation, by investing in community projects and financially supporting charitable causes. They are the drivers of new job creation, innovative products, and services and lead the way for social changes in our society.

Since announcing the activities of Entrepreneur Showcase Week in last month’s article, many businesses and entrepreneurs have committed their support of this twenty-events-in-one-week extravaganza. Entrepreneur Showcase Week will be unique for several reasons. First, to the best of my knowledge, nothing like this exists in any city anywhere. These events will be a great way to cap off the Innovation Connector’s focus on Celebrating Entrepreneurs in 2022.

Second, Entrepreneur Showcase Week will bring together the most diverse, inclusive, and variety of business people our community has ever seen.  There will be learning and networking opportunities for all entrepreneurs to benefit from to help either start or grow their businesses.  Entrepreneurs can participate in workshops about creative marketing, funding a business, bookkeeping and accounting best practices, how to start a business, and understanding IT needs and security for businesses.  Specialty sessions will include opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses, starting/growing a restaurant, the importance of side-gigs, and learning about entrepreneurs in the maker’s space.  And there is so much more. Please find a complete list of available sessions at

Third, this week will be a week of partnerships and peer-to-peer training. Starting or growing a business is hard work. It literally takes a community to grow successful businesses.  Entrepreneur Showcase Week will highlight regular entrepreneurs in our community who have learned from both their successes and failures. They will lead workshop sessions and participate in panel discussions.  Many organizations are partnering to make this week special.  While the Innovation Connector is leading the charge, Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana Small Business Development Center, the Small Business Administration, Ball State Entrepreneurial Institute, Madjax, the City of Muncie, and the Shafer Leadership Academy are among the partnering organizations.  It is in this spirit of working together that this week’s focus will be on supporting entrepreneurs and providing resources and tools to help their everyday needs.

One of the sponsors, Spotted Monkey Marketing, will be a presenter for the session, “Creatively Marketing Your Business.”  This session will be led by the owner, or Head of Monkey Business, Ashli Smith.  Ashli sees the potential impact of a week as this. “As a business owner and employer in the Muncie community, Spotted Monkey Marketing is thrilled to have an integral part of this event.  By offering such a wide variety of resources for entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Showcase Week will impact the direction and successes of hundreds of businesses.  Our decision to be part of it is a no-brainer. “Ashli and her team are also very involved in this project by providing the graphics, website work, print, and social media marketing, as well as décor that will be in the Innovation Connector. “We chose Ashli and Spotted Monkey to work with us on this project because of their energy level and vision for small businesses in our community,” says Lori Albert, Financial Director at the Innovation Connector. “Their passion shows through in their work.”

Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour has expressed his excitement for Entrepreneur Showcase Week and will make a proclamation as such during the first session that kicks off the week on Monday, November 14, at 8 am.  Ridenour stated, “A thriving small business community is a mark of economic vitality, quality of life, and forward momentum. I am so proud that Muncie is a place where anyone can start a business and access the resources, coaching, networking, and support they need to build a legacy. Starting a business is a labor of love, and The City is proud to celebrate and support our local entrepreneurs.”

First Merchants Bank is the Title Sponsor for Entrepreneur Showcase Week.  Many thanks go to Market President Jeff Parsons and his team for supporting this event and for the ongoing support of the Innovation Connector and businesses throughout our community.  Jeff is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Innovation Connector.  As a sponsor and directly involved in the work of the Innovation Connector, Jeff’s perspective is unique to this week of events.  “I am confident the events and activities during the 6 days of the 2022 Entrepreneur Showcase in November will be impactful.  To no surprise, the Innovation Connector team has collaborated with a diverse group of community partners to assure there is an added value to all who attend.  The event will also highlight the ongoing, year-round support and commitment provided by the Innovation Connector team to encourage and assist small business creation and innovation in our community and region.  First Merchants Bank is proud to support this unique and positive event. “

Registration for all events is open now at While most of the events are FREE to attend, we are requesting participants so we can properly plan for space, food, printed materials, and more for each event.  If you have any questions or wish to be part of Entrepreneur Showcase Week, please do not hesitate to contact us at 765-285-4900. Thank you in advance for your participation and support in making this event a success.  In October’s article, we will announce the winners of the five categories of the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.  Please register for events, and if you know an entrepreneur, currently in business or not, please spread the word about this event.

Resident Client Spotlight – Melissa DeWitt

Melissa DeWitt is the HEAD OF SCHOOL for The Virtual Preparatory Academy of Indiana at Madison-Grant. Mrs. DeWitt is entering her 20th year in education. Her roles have included principal, Academic Director, data coach, and teacher. She is most proud of her work to launch Indiana’s first full-time online school, giving students and families another school choice here in the state of Indiana.

If you are interested in learning more about The Virtual Preparatory Academy of Indiana and its services, please visit or call 888-436-0234.