BSU Innovation Connector reaches landmark in Muncie
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Muncie's high tech business incubator just reached a landmark in 2012 with a record 21 businesses that generate over $7.2 million in sales and $2.8 million in payroll with 44 fulltime and 18 contract employees.
The Innovation Connector at 1208 W. White River Boulevard sometimes looks empty but is full of high tech and other innovative communication businesses and is self sustaining with a certified technology park fund that captures tax money paid by businesses and their employees that can be used for the facility's operation and programming.
Besides the recent success story at Intellitech Group, that was recently bought by local software maker Ontario Systems, Ted Baker, IC"s executive director, said about 87 percent of the small firms that begin in business incubators, about 87 percent are still in the business today.
Intellitech came to Muncie in 2012 from Camas WA. and created a new software division that employed five people with an average salary of $90,000 each. The company grew so much that Ontario wanted it and four of those employees work for OS. The other employee, Baker said, is looking at creating a new line of products and another company locally.
That success story was just what Muncie"s Redevelopment Commission wanted to hear when its members decided Thursday to hand over $325,000 to continue the operation of the IC that also has plenty of tech and other support from Ball State University and IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
That money comes from the tech park that was created to help build the IC in 2008 and operate it like staffing, utilities and programming. The IC is run by a board of directors that includes representatives of the university, Ivy Tech Community College, the hospital and tech companies. It's directors include former Mayor Sharon McShurley and BSU President Jo Ann Gora.
MRC member Bill Smith said the commission was merely a pass through for the tax increment funding for the IC. Baker acknowledged the IC had a tough start but it continued to grow and is the site for gatherings of marketing, social media, high technology and other business interests.
Baker talked about taking the next step in growing the IC, given there's plenty of competition up and down Interstate 69. There also are business incubators in Anderson and Fort Wayne and Purdue and Indiana University also have facilities for starting all types of businesses and industries.
Among those steps including fulltime fundraising besides changing the mix of tenants and services. The dominant business at the IC is high technology, besides other marketing and telecommunications.