What’s recently happened?
The Dean and Barbara White Community Center held its first Juneteenth celebration on June 19. It took place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and hosted a variety of activities. The event had multiple vendors including Cute as a Cupcake, Rockablock LLC, Jean’s Body Care, and more. This event was highly successful and many are hoping it will return.
The town of Merrillville kicked off the start of July with many festivities leading up to the Fourth of July. On the third of July the town hosted a firework show at Merrillville High School (MHS) that started at 9 p.m. and allowed citizens to come and watch throughout the night. A parade was held at 1:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July for the community of residents to attend, which filled the streets with not only joy, but also tons candy that was tossed to the children. The parade showcased vintage cars, businesses, and the MHS gymnastics team.
What’s coming up?
Merrillville Township will be hosting the second annual job fair for anyone in need of new employment. The job fair will be held July 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with many jobs ranging from electrical to education. People are encouraged to come out and even bring their resume to find a potential match.
New school start times for the Merrillville Community School Corporation (MCSC) have also been updated for the 2022-23 school year. MHS and Pierce Middle School will now start at 7:40 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. All Merrillville elementary schools will run from 8:25 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. Merrillville Intermediate School will be from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
MCSC will also no longer have early release days and the 2022-23 academic year schedule will be available on the MCSC website.
Community member spotlight:
Busy Bees Pottery and Art Studio Owner Nakia Sprouse's journey into entrepreneurial work was not a journey she thought she would come across. Sprouse did achieve the accomplishment of having a college level degree in business administration, but ultimately just followed her passion as she was led to do so.
“In late 2018, I interrupted my career in finance to purchase a chiropractic office with my husband,” Sprouse said. “Although he is the primary owner, I became responsible for the day-to-day administrative, human resource, and financial management functions of the office. After a couple months of putting processes and procedures in place, I found that I was not needed on a full-time basis. It was also during this time that I realized that I did not want to go back to working for someone else, and I wanted to focus on becoming an entrepreneur. I ran across the Busy Bees Pottery and Arts franchise, thought it was something that would fit into the Northwest Indiana Community and we opened our doors in December of 2019.”
Sprouse quickly saw this as an opportunity to take on a challenge, and brought the Busy Bees Pottery and Art Studio franchise to Southlake Mall.
“Currently, I own one business, Busy Bees Pottery and Arts Studio,” Sprouse said. “I also closely manage two medical offices that are owned by my husband. The hardest part about creating the business was finding the right concept that would fill a need in my target market of Northwest Indiana. I explored a number or different opportunities, but in the end, decided on a business that the entire family could enjoy.”
Being able to watch her vision come to live was one that will continue to make an impact for years to come.
“Opening day at the art studio was one of the most memorable experiences that I have had during my lifetime,” Sprouse said. “The work that was involved in getting the studio up and running required dedication, flexibility, and a great deal of organization and the ability to roll with the punches. I experienced a sense of pride and relief once everything came together.”
Sprouse went through many ups and downs bringing the franchise to Northwest Indiana, but the business was hit hard by what brought shut down the world.
“We opened our doors three months before COVID happened,” Sprouse said. “This was probably one of the biggest challenges that I have faced, and we are still facing to this day. It was mandated that we close for almost two months, and since this was a new business, we did not get a chance to market and get name recognition in the region like we had planned."
This journey taught Sprouse a lot and she hopes to share her new found knowledge with others hoping to possibly do the same.
“I quickly realized that being a business owner is attainable for anyone as long as you have a strong business plan, financial resources, and the support of family, friends, and potential customers in place,” Sprouse said. “Be prepared for the worst case scenario. Contemplate project delays, financial shortfalls, revenue losses, inventory and staffing shortages, and price increases - all of which in this case were caused by an unforeseen pandemic. Before you start a business, do your research, perform a market analysis, and prepare a sound business plan. There are a number of free resources out there that can help you successfully bring your business to life, so be sure to seek them out.”