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Sidebar Feature   |  Spring 2005

New businesses up even when economy is down


While the job market has collapsed for some Hoosiers, others are taking advantage of new opportunities rising from a shifting economy.

Despite having one of the highest job loss rates in the nation, economic indicators point to Indiana as one of the best places in the United States to start a business, says agricultural economist Maria Marshall. The state ranked 10th in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council's Small Business Survival Index for 2004.

Even though the overall Indiana economy was in a downswing, Joni Schatz was optimistic about her chances to break into a new niche market as more and more consumers expressed a preference for organically grown food. Schatz, who wanted to return to farming after her sons graduated from high school, began raising all-natural beef on a farm in southern Indiana, near Ferdinand.

“Developing and selling specialty ingredients and foods is one alternative for homemakers and farmers looking to add value to Indiana commodities,” says Marshall.

Good economy or bad, establishing a new business is a risky proposition. “At the time, I knew zilch about cattle,” says Schatz, who launched Cyclone Creek Cattle Co. in 1999 with three pregnant cows. She turned to Purdue Extension to learn the ins and outs of raising cattle and starting a new business.

Image: Crossroads of America

Cyclone Creek Cattle Co. began with an idea and three cows on this southern Indiana farm. (Photo courtesy Cyclone Creek)

Schatz received assistance from the New Ventures Team, a group of Purdue Extension educators and specialists who help entrepreneurs gather the information necessary to evaluate whether or not to start a new agriculture- or food-related business and to improve their chances of success if they do.

The New Ventures Team is just one of the resources Purdue Extension offers to help entrepreneurs like Schatz get started. Another resource is the Food Entrepreneurship Program, which takes individuals through all the steps in starting a new food business, from business planning to marketing and from packaging to food safety.

Schatz has been selling Angus and Piedmontese beef direct to consumers for two years and has turned Cyclone Creek into a thriving, value-added agricultural business. She continues to attend Purdue Extension workshops and meetings, where she's learned about everything from growing turnips as winter forage to giving animals their vaccines.

Schatz says Cyclone Creek lets her not only tap into a niche market but also focus on consumers' dietary concerns. “I wanted to address the growing health concerns of consumers,” she says, “and to fulfill my own desire to produce a healthy, safe food.”

 

 

© 2005 Purdue University College of Agriculture

 

 

 

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