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At first glance, the cluster of unassuming squares on a map of East Central Indiana may not look like much.  When you look more closely, you’ll see opportunities you never imagined. 
 
This region, consisting of Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph, Rush and Wayne Counties, is centrally located in the US and an ideal location for new businesses and expansions.  There are plenty of reasons why.  It is home to thousands of diverse employers.  A skilled workforce with a strong history in innovation, manufacturing, food processing, agriculture, logistics and information technology.  Affordable homes, land and taxes.  World-class educational institutions.  Established transportation networks. Strong heartland values, admirable work ethics and an excellent business environment. 
 
Welcome to East Central Indiana.  Moving the Future of Business. Together.  
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Finding a new use for a building that once housed a pool hall could be considered a challenging endeavor. But The Refinery Business Center, a co-working space that opened in 2015, is racking up members and opportunity for Grant County entrepreneurs. Founder and executive director Shelby Bowen, a real estate development veteran and Marion native, took a cue from Launch Fishers after seeing it in operation. The Refinery, however,serves a different type of clientele than the archetype to the south.
It all started with a bang. Make that a boom. In the late 1800s, the discovery of natural gas in Delaware County ignited the state’s glass industry – particularly in East Central Indiana. Well drillers seeking coal first unearthed gas in Eaton, a small town north of Muncie. A decade later, natural gas was found in Portland (Jay County). Perhaps the most well-known glassmaker is Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, which began producing glassware (with an emphasis on fruit jars) in New York in the mid-1880s and moved to Muncie several years later. 
Fresh out of college, Brooke Van Hook is tackling the demands of being an emergency room nurse. The 12-hour shifts at her hometown Community Hospital Anderson are a fast-paced rush of adrenaline, and the range of medical crises requires an array of nursing skills.
Senior Ashley Bates epitomizes the positivity of what’s happening at Purdue Polytechnic Richmond. The 23-year-old who lives in Dublin, Ind., is considered a model student as she works toward a bachelor’s of science degree in computer graphics technology. Bates picked Purdue Richmond after visiting campuses from the Midwest, to Florida and to the East Coast. Her choice came down to a comfort level with “the staff, the curriculum and my own drive (to succeed),” she says. “I want to be able to grow as an artist. I can do that here.” In its quietly effective way, the Purdue University satellite is in a growing mode, too. Its primary focuses for many decades were on engineering and management programs.
Ghyslain Maurais and his wife, Susan, started Ghyslain Chocolatier in a farm house in 1998, ultimately choosing Union City (Susan’s hometown) for its current location. Today, Ghyslain’s staff of 25 produces fine French breads and pastries in addition to gourmet chocolates, and the company ships its chocolates all over the world. There are also two Ghyslain bistros in Louisville, Kentucky.


Workforce development is an essential ingredient in today’s manufacturing world. But, it’s far from a new concept. Apprenticeships and high school tech-ed programs have long served as cornerstones for developing employees. So have trade schools and, of course, on-the-job training. Ahaus Tool & Engineering of Richmond has been developing its own machinists and engineers since the late 1970s. Many of its current 90-plus employees were originally drawn there through technical education programs at Richmond and other high schools in the area.
The house that Garfield built is set back from a little-traveled country road near Albany, Indiana. Paws Incorporated headquarters, as it's formally called, is home to the world's most famous cat, but it's not a studio that often opens its doors to the public. Inside, the world of Garfield comes to life in ways that go beyond just a simple comic strip.
 

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