Celebrating Entrepreneurs in Muncie, Indiana

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

For the remainder of 2022, the Innovation Connector will be focusing its outreach efforts on “Celebrating Entrepreneurs.”  What an exciting concept, “celebrating entrepreneurs!”  While it seems fitting to celebrate entrepreneurs, what are we celebrating? Heck, most of us have trouble saying “entrepreneur,” and more cannot spell it. Let’s unpack this unique word, “entrepreneur,” and discover why it may be one of the most essential words for our community.

The word “entrepreneur” was coined by economic philosopher Jean-Baptiste Say; the word comes from French, “entrendre,” where it means “undertaker”—i.e., one who undertakes a new venture. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that economists seriously attempted to incorporate entrepreneurship into their models. Jean-Baptiste Say pointed out in his writings that it was entrepreneurs who sought out inefficient uses of resources and capital and moved them into more productive, higher-yield areas. Simply put, entrepreneurs seek profit opportunities and, by doing so, create new markets and fresh opportunities. By constantly disrupting the balance of competition, entrepreneurs prevent monopolies from forming and create a wide diversity of products that keep consumers consuming and producers producing.

So without entrepreneurs, would businesses that we see today exist? Would the innovative and disruptive products and services we enjoy today be part of our everyday lives? What about computers, the internet, modern modes of transportation, medical devices and life-saving drugs, cell phones, and streaming services? What about modern building methods, new ways to grow food to feed the world, and cutting-edge advances in education and teaching? Then we also have to think … what about war defense systems, weapons that kill, and matchmaking websites by the dozens?

Yes, this is the world in which we live our daily lives. Let’s bring this down to us here in Muncie, IN. Entrepreneurs like the Fabulous Five, better known as the Ball Brothers, Jim Davis, Garfield, and US Engineering Company, invented machine gun clips that helped the Allied forces win WW2. And we continue to be surrounded by inventors and entrepreneurs in the Muncie community. 

“Lathay Peagues brought us John-Toms BBQ Sauce; Murray Jewelers created an interlocking ring set that is patented and unique. Also, Ron Fauquher and Wil Davis founded Ontario Systems, Inc. (now Finvi,) an accounts receivable and collections software business, bringing hundreds of high-paying jobs to Muncie. And a newer endeavor by Mike Martin and his team, The Common Market, serving a community in need of revitalization and a restored belief in who they are.”

This list is only the beginning of a long list of entrepreneurs who have changed the business landscape in our community. These entrepreneurs have taken calculated risks when others would not. They invested their saving and extended credit to bring their businesses to life. They have worked extremely hard, long hours to make their ideas and businesses successful. 

The Muncie community is an excellent place for businesses to start and grow. Residents are willing to try new products and services and support new businesses. If you doubt this, try dining at a newly opened restaurant! Muncie also has a unique quality that is important for the business ecosystem. From years ago, I remember the words painted on the outside of Gommel’s Meat Market that were true for their business and our community: “We are big enough to serve you but small enough to care.”  Muncie has the resources to bring great things to its residents while knowing who it serves. We are successful because of forged relationships and long-time friendships.

The Muncie Journal will feature an article each month written by a team member of the Innovation Connector with one purpose in mind: to celebrate entrepreneurs in the Muncie community. Entrepreneurs who have made Muncie a great place to live and work. Entrepreneurs who will lead us in the next generation of products, inventions, and services.

We look forward to you following us on this journey.

Ted A. Baker