Entrepreneurs Achieve Dreams in Enterprise Appalachia

It's said that most startups fail within five years. Still, the possibility - or experience - of failure doesn't stop approximately 600,000 entrepreneurs from starting new businesses every year in the United States. Yet, while many will fail, many others will succeed. To succeed, entrepreneurs must find a location that balances access to resources and low overhead costs for a higher chance of business success.

"For entrepreneurs, every dollar is a precious commodity," said Ed Burghard, executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, the nonprofit organization that markets the state of Ohio for capital investment. "The more investment capital that actually makes it to product development and commercialization, the greater the probability of success."

Executives of GhostBlind Industries, in Marietta, and Cerner Resource Systems, in New Concord, and Entrepreneur in Residence at Kent State University, in Kent, are living their entrepreneurial dreams in Ohio's Enterprise Appalachia. The region's unique set of successful business opportunities enabled them to turn their ideas for business success into growing companies.

Every entrepreneur wants to select the right location to start and grow their business. But, the choice isn't always obvious, and often the default is to simply start where you are currently located instead of looking for an ideal location. Choosing a business location is an important strategic choice, one that should be based upon a thorough consideration of established criteria and relevant data.

Ohio's Enterprise Appalachia offers the ideal site selection criteria for small businesses to thrive, from access to funding and finding a considerable knowledge base to leveraging supply chain resources and reaching key markets. This is evidenced by the surge of successful start-up companies who have put the state's abundant entrepreneurial resources into action.

Founded by hunting enthusiasts Chet Burdette and Kevin Pottmeyer, GhostBlind's signature hunting blinds utilize lightweight, reflective panels to create a foolproof camouflage in any landscape. Based on its potential to attract a large market, create jobs and contribute to the regional economy, GhostBlind Industries was a prime candidate for support from TechGROWTH Ohio, which provides business advisory services, competitive grant support and seed-stage investment capital to technology companies and entrepreneurs in Southeast Ohio.

According to Burdette, TechGROWTH Ohio has been instrumental in accelerating GhostBlind's growth over the past two years. Within the past year, the company has taken on nearly 300 dealers in the U.S., such as Cabela's, and abroad - some as far as Australia and New Zealand, noted Pottmeyer.

"They have turned an innovative idea into a high-growth business," said TechGROWTH Ohio Director John Glazer. "They embody the spirit of entrepreneurialism in the Southeast Ohio region."

This is one example of regional venture capital and financial support found in Enterprise Appalachia. Entrepreneurs locating in the region benefit from regional venture capital and financial support that meets the needs of all businesses, from start-up businesses to gazelle high growth companies.

Ohio's Enterprise Appalachian region is home to 25 institutions of higher education, including seven four-year universities and colleges and 18 two-year colleges. Not only do these institutions provide knowledge and expertise to entrepreneurs, but contribute to a knowledgeable workforce ready to help companies grow.

Entrepreneurs Greg Adams and Larry Triplett recognized a need for data processing services and leveraged small business support services in Appalachian Ohio to found Resource Systems. Now with more than 80 employees, Resource Systems caters to more than 3,500 nursing homes nationwide. Inc. magazine has named it one of the nation's fastest growing private companies. In May 2011, Resource Systems merged with Cerner Corporation, now Cerner Resource Systems.

"There are so many benefits to being located in Appalachian Ohio. We're in a nice setting overlooking town, and we have a strong internship program with Muskingham University," said Triplett, managing director of Cerner Resource Systems. "People are attracted to work for us because of where we are, and they make New Concord their home. Once they come, they stay. Our turnover is nearly zero."

In addition, Enterprise Appalachia's location and tax structure, along with easy access to supply chains and key markets, makes it cost effective for entrepreneurs to serve customers in North America and around the globe. A recent report by the Quantitative Economics and Statistics Practices (QUEST) of Ernst & Young in conjunction with the Council On State Taxation (COST) ranks Ohio as third in the nation for friendliest tax environment.

Youngstown, Ohio native Craig Zamary, now entrepreneur in residence at Kent State University, believes Ohio's Enterprise Appalachia offers a work-life balance for business owners, their employees and their families available nowhere else. He is teaching Kent State students what he learned from starting and selling two companies and helping to build the next generation of young entrepreneurs.

"Being able to launch and sell two successful companies and still be there for my wife and children, never missing out on any of the important moments, has been vitally important to me," Zamary said. "Locating your business in Ohio provides you an opportunity to have a life in perfect balance."

"Creating a successful business is a time consuming job. In the Enterprise Appalachia Region, it is easy to travel to and from work without having to deal with the stress of a long commute," Burghard said. "Locating your business in Enterprise Appalachia affords you the gift of time. You can meet the demands of creating a successful entrepreneurial venture without sacrificing your life in the process. It provides you an opportunity to have a life in perfect balance."

For more information, visit: www.ohiomeansbusiness.com

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