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WABASH COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Grow Wabash County has unveiled the winners of the 2022 INnovate Wabash County student pitch competition. The event featured student entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to a panel of business professionals, entrepreneurs and mentors.

The winning teams earned cash prizes ranging from $250 to $2,000. The organization says the panel was so impressed by the presentations, it decided to add a fifth place winner.

“This year’s slate of competitors really raised the bar. Not only did these students prove that they had an incredible knowledge of their products and businesses, but they proved that they had the passion and drive to make these ideas a reality,” said Keith Gillenwater, CEO of Grow Wabash County. “It was truly an incredible experience to be able to see the next generation of business owners step up.”

The winning teams include:

In addition to the cash prizes, the top three winners also received tuition vouchers to attend Ivy Tech Community College. First place will have tuition covered for up to two years, second place for up to one year, and third place for one semester.

WABASH COUNTY (Inside INdiana Business) – The Community Foundation of Wabash County and Grow Wabash County have released a draft of the Imagine One 85 plan. The organization’s say the 100-page plan includes 85 action items aimed at growing Wabash County’s population.

The recommendations are organized into four areas: great places, prosperity, housing, and community and foundations.

Community Foundation Executive Director Patty Grant says the plan was made with the help of hundreds of residents who participated in meetings, surveys and the Mighty Wabash County Summit last July.

“Despite the limitation of the pandemic, an engaged public submitted more than 1,000 comments regarding ways to grow Wabash County and realize a bold vision for the County’s future,” said Grant.

The organizations say they will first address select priority actions aimed at reversing population decline. The plan also includes an implementation schedule to ensure action items move forward.

“Population loss is the county’s most serious threat,” says Keith Gillenwater, president of Grow Wabash County. “We were thrilled to partner with the Community Foundation of Wabash County and all of the communities of Wabash County to create urgency and awareness about the complicated and damaging dynamics of population loss. The Imagine One85 Plan will serve as the roadmap to rewriting the future that others have predicted for us.”

The Imagine One 85 team was formed in 2020 to address the county’s steady decline in population and to improve economic development in the area.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have reached this point in the Imagine One 85 process,” said Melissa Ford-Kalbfell, development associate of the Community Foundation. “Hours of work were given by everyone involved. Thorough deliberation ensured that the comments and ideas heard throughout the process would be ideas that everyone in the community could take ownership of. We encourage anyone who reads the plan to find a way to participate in its implementation, whether by sharing the plan with others or by getting involved with one of the organizations recommended to lead some of the proposed action items.”

You can read the entire plan by clicking here.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Manchester University in northern Indiana launched the country’s first pharmacogenomics program in 2016 and just five years later, the program has grown tenfold. The master’s degree program, which began with just eight students, involves the study of the influence of a person’s genetics in how they respond to medications. Dr. David Kisor, director of pharmacogenomics at Manchester, says the program has found global appeal and led to more programs being developed across the country.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Kisor said the program’s early growth was the result of a key realization.

“We started with on-campus and that’s why we had a smaller number, realized that there were a number of pharmacists, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants that need education also and moved the program for an online delivery also and that really increased the admissions,” said Kisor. “What it means is that there’s more people training in pharmacogenomics. So, we’re getting to this critical mass where it’ll be applied more ubiquitously in healthcare.”

Plans for the program were detailed in 2015 and just three years later, the university announced plans for a dual degree program with its Doctor of Pharmacy degree, another first of its kind.

“The reason that’s so important is that the background of pharmacists with pharmacokinetics – that’s [how] the drug is handled by the body – when you combine that with genetics, it’s very powerful,” Kisor said. “Other schools have now come on board also. There’s at least four other programs. I know there’s a fifth coming with master’s degrees. That speaks to the growth of pharmacogenomics.”

Kisor says that growth can be found in the number of clinical guidelines for pharmacogenomics, which has increased from two or three guidelines 10 years ago to nearly 30 now. He says insurance providers are also paying more for pharmacogenomics.

“It’s getting broader, but we have to keep up with it and that’s what our program does. We keep on top of it. We have members that are involved with the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium; that’s the leading group with developing guidelines. So, we stay in the forefront.”

As the pharmacogenomic industry grows, Kisor says technology will play an intricate role to not only help healthcare professionals understand the genetic information, but make informed decisions.

“For instance, if there’s somebody who has a genetic variant or DNA that puts them at risk for an adverse drug reaction, that alert needs to be in the system,” he said. “I’ll say that this technology really needs to be in place from different aspects of practice settings, so from the independent pharmacy all the way to the major academic medical centers.”

Looking forward, Kisor says he aims to broaden its outreach to partners in the pharmacogenomics industry, including manufacturers and technology companies, to connect with them from an education standpoint.

WABASH, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Wabash-based family services nonprofit will Tuesday cut the ribbon on a new training lab that will be used as part of an advanced manufacturing training program. Josiah White’s is launching the Catapult program in partnership with Conexus Indiana that it says will open students up to job opportunities in the state’s manufacturing sector.

Josiah White’s, formerly known as White’s Residential & Family Services, provides a variety of support for children, teens and families, including residential treatment, foster care and family preservation services.

Plans for the nonprofit’s Catapult program were first announced in February. The program is being implemented as part of the organization’s Growing Teens for Life vocational development initiative.

The organization says as part Catapult, select students in its residential programs will spend the first half of their day in school and the second half in the new Catapult lab, which will amount to 160 hours over the 16-week semester. When complete, students will receive an advanced manufacturing certificate from Conexus, as well as six college credits from Ivy Tech Community College.

Josiah White’s will host an open house to view the training lab from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday, with the ribbon cutting scheduled for 11 a.m.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Oji Intertech Inc., a Japan-owned automotive and industrial parts manufacturer, has sold its North Manchester operations to local businessman Wayne Robison. The Wabash County business, which employs 100 workers, will now operate as Intertech Products Inc.

While terms of the sale were not disclosed, Robison says an opportunity presented itself to purchase the hometown business.

“North Manchester is an incredibly special place, and it’s meaningful to me to invest in the town that has provided my family with such a positive sense of community, opportunity and quality of life for decades. I jumped at the chance to purchase Oji Intertech because it’s a company headquartered in my hometown that is growing and successful with strong leadership and a unique, positive culture,” said Robison.

The company says Rick Sereno, who has served over 30 years at Oji Intertech, will continue to serve as president of Intertech Products Inc.

“I know our future is bright under the organization’s new ownership. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside Wayne Robison and our leadership team to maintain and grow our business, continue to provide world-class products and service to our customers, and offer an excellent culture for our team members,” said Sereno.

The company has been in business since the mid-80s and does annual sales of about $30 million.

WABASH COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Grow Wabash County says efforts to develop a strong relationship with the Japanese community are seeing increased growth. The nonprofit economic and community development organization says a Japanese language program from Wabash City Schools has seen massive year-over-year growth and the county aims to send a third delegation to Japan in 2022.

The school district launched the language program with 14 students in 2020 through a partnership with the Japanese Foundation. This year, the program has grown to 50 students, a 257% increase.

“As a teacher who seeks to bring Japan and Indiana closer, I am thrilled to see the Japanese program at Wabash City Schools grow in size and interest,” said Bill Chittenden, a Japanese language teacher at Wabash City Schools. “I am looking forward to continuing to help prepare the students of Wabash to become global citizens who continue to develop the deep ties between Japan and Indiana.”

In addition to the language program, the district has hosted a group of exchange students from Japan, and plans to continue the two-week exchange program, if the pandemic allows. Additionally, the district has been selected to participate in the KAKEMASHI Project, in which nine students and one chaperone will take part in an eight-day exchange to Japan next year.

“The growth of the Japanese program has been incredible. We are excited to be the only district in the county to offer this program to our students,” said Superintendent Amy Sivley. “We look forward to continued collaboration with Japan as we work to provide global opportunities for our students.”

Wabash sent delegations to Japan in 2018 and 2019 with the goal of fostering relationships with Japanese communities. Grow Wabash County says the goal is to send another delegation next year.

WABASH, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Grow Wabash County is launching a series of advanced training programs for local workers. The organization says the programs will support workers looking to upgrade their current skill sets in an effort to become more competitive in the workforce.

The organization says the programs are the result of partnerships with Ivy Tech Community College, Heartland Career Center in Wabash and CTS Driving Academy.

Each training program also has financial support and scholarships available, including through the state’s Workforce Ready Grant program and funding from the Community Foundation of Wabash County.

The training programs include:

You can learn more about the programs by clicking here.

NORTH MANCHESTER and FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Manchester University is again waiving an enrollment deposit for certain incoming students. Doctor of Pharmacy students this fall will not be required to pay the deposit, a similar move the university made earlier this month for undergraduate students.

Greg Hetrick, assistant dean of pharmacy enrollment, says the university understands that students are continuing to experience a lot of disruption and uncertainty.

“Manchester waived the deposit last year, and we heard from many students that waiving the deposit removed a barrier that might keep them from moving forward in the admissions process,” said Hetrick. “We want to make sure applicants this cycle have the same opportunity.” 

Hetrick says students will need to complete an intent to enroll form to secure a spot in the fall 2021 cohort. 

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — In an effort to save students money, Manchester University says it is waiving a deposit charge again this year. Incoming undergraduate students this fall will not be required to pay the $250 enrollment deposit.

Ryon Kaopuiki, vice president for enrollment at Manchester, says the move is part of a continued effort to help students and families who are experiencing disruption and uncertainty.

“We waived the deposit last year, and we heard from many students that waiving the deposit helped their families,” Kaopuiki said in a news release. “We want to make sure the high school class of 2021 has that same opportunity.”

Kaopuiki says if students have already deposited the funds, a credit will appear on student bills in the fall. He says if students have not yet made the deposit, an Intent to Enroll form will need to be completed. 

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing officials at a northern Indiana school, alleging that they violated a Black student’s First Amendment rights by sending him home for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the text, “I hope I don’t get killed for being Black today.”

The complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in South Bend names the principal and assistant principal of North Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School in Manchester, Indiana, as defendants.

The lawsuit asks the court to award the student damages and direct administrators to allow him to continue wearing the shirt at school.

The male junior is identified only as D.E. in court documents.