The Market at the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) Downtown Business Studio was a long time coming.
Monday morning, KEDCO had a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the official opening of The Market at the KEDCO Downtown Business Studio, 207 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, as well as the studio itself.
In an interview beforehand, KEDCO CEO Alan Tio explained, “KEDCO is a hub for economic development in Kosciusko County, and so this space really also serves as a hub for us, for the partners we work with. It serves as a hub for the kind of activities we’re involved in, and really a place where we bring people together. It helps us put our mission to motion - bring people together, doing cool things, doing important work and then helping to show the results to help others be a part of what we’re doing.”
The Market on the first floor of the KEDCO building offers a place where vendors can experience being downtown Warsaw.
“And when they’re wildly successful, we’ll help them find their own spot - downtown Warsaw, or if there’s a reason for them to be, Warsaw and somewhere else or maybe the best thing for them is to be in Syracuse or Winona Lake or one of the other communities we serve. The Market helps us create that kind of activity,” Tio said.
Market Associates Laura Sanders (L) and Melanie Woodruff (R) for The Market at KEDCO Downtown Business Studio pose for a photo in front of a listing of all the vendors currently selling their product inside The Market. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
On the second floor is Co-working Space. Tio said that helps KEDCO “provide a landing spot” for start-up companies or businesses that need work space. “A place where we can bring people together that are more that entrepreneurial mindset, rub elbows and have a place to work from,” he said. With KEDCO being in the building on the third floor, they can provide access to the partners they work with.
As of Monday, there are eight vendors in The Market. Market Associates Laura Sanders and Melanie Woodruff for The Market also are two of the vendors as well. Woodruff has Mod & Glory, which is all hand-lettered artwork, paintings and prints. Sanders’ venture is Laurel Pottery, which offers handmade pottery.
“The Market is going to be mostly focused on Kosciusko County and supporting our local vendors here, but we’ll see where it goes. If it grows larger than that, awesome. But we just want to support businesses and help them grow to what they dream to be. This is the place for them to start,” Sanders said.
She explained that for a beginning business to become part of The Market, there is an online application on the KEDCO website under Downtown Business Studio.
“They have two different applications. Go to The Market one and then you would send in an application. After we look through the application, we’ll let them know if they’re accepted or rejected,” Sanders said.
Each contract is for a four-month period. After that, Sanders said The Market and the vendor will make a decision on whether or not to continue for another four months.
Woodruff said when they started initially, they tried to figure out what their actual capacity was. Once vendors started dropping off their product and filling out the space, “we realized we can definitely fit more people in here as long as we reworked what our display pieces are, but if we hit the point where we have to have a wait list, we’ll do that.”
All the products are mixed in together to feel like a shopping experience versus stalls of vendors. There’s artwork, jewelry, clothing, coffee, some skin care and leather goods.
“All great things for great Christmas gifts,” Woodruff stated. “Even since opening, we’ve had vendors applying to try to get in here, and those people even are a mix of different products as well.”
Vendors pay a flat-rate monthly fee to have their product in The Market. Vendors get paid whatever their sales are, minus taxes, at the end of every month.
Sanders said The Market is fairly open to different products and is looking to quality things and things that are done well. Woodruff said it’s family friendly.
“This is a great space to be able to support your neighbor,” she said. “... I just want to encourage anybody to come in here and share the word.”
Sanders said for any business wanting to be a part of The Market, it’s a great place to get connected, especially if they just need some mentorship in building and growing their business. They have a coach that they’re partnering with - Entrepreneurship Coach Angie Harrison with Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) - who will be available to talk with any of the businesses.
The Market is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Thanksgiving week hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday; closed Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday for Small Business Saturday.
Tio said when The Market is successful, KEDCO can help create more of those type of pop-up markets in other communities.
“We may find that the town of Milford wants a pop-up market, or Mentone wants a pop-up market. We’ll have the model on how to do that to help them as well,” he said.
Some of the products being sold at The Market at KEDCO Downtown Business Studio are shown Monday. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
For someone looking for a cup of coffee, there’s a coffee shop in The Market as well.
“Creighton’s Crazy Egg Café has come on board to provide some coffee service,” Tio said. “So, we’re looking for those kind of partnerships where we can help provide them an access into downtown Warsaw, and then they may see an opportunity to go find their own location at some point.”
When Tio first joined KEDCO as the CEO, he was just one of two KEDCO employees and they were renting space from the Kosciusko Chamber.
“What we found is this is a pretty unique place, Kosciusko County. There’s a pretty broad set of responsibilities that people look to us to help with, and also opportunities we have that other places don’t have to where we need people with specific expertise so we have a team now of five full-time people, seven part-time team members. Very specific expertise and skill sets and areas of focus. And it’s really to help make sure we’re working alongside the communities we support, as well with the companies that we want to see start here, grow here, move here because of the kind of resource we have,” Tio stated.
As for the future, he said, “I think the opportunity for us ahead is to continue to work as much as we can with local partners to really respond to both the needs of our local companies and to look ahead of how do we create things that don’t exist currently.”
Three to five years out, Tio said people will see KEDCO still focusing on finding important difficult problems to help solve at the community level, and helping to make a difference to why companies want to start or grow or move to Kosciusko.
KEDCO’s website can be found at https://www.kosciuskoedc.com/.