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Posted by: Steve Kimmel 3 weeks ago

Markle Church of Christ, 455 East Morse Street, Markle, was the location of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce’s fourth entrepreneurial gathering ‘Meet & Greet.’ The event introduced two Markle area businesses that were begun by entrepreneurs in the Markle area.

Nadean’s Cakes/Cookies, Catering, Markle, catered the meal for those in attendance. Nadean used Markle area food providers including The Bread Guy who provided the bread for the sandwiches; The Pickle, making a cheesy potato casserole and BroxonBerry, lettuce for the salad. Nadean assembled the delicious meal including her business’s homemade pie.

Steve Kimmel, left, executive director of the Chamber, began the evening by welcoming those in attendance and explaining the Entrepreneurial Leadership Council under the direction of the Chamber. He thanked Nadean and her sister, Cindy Blocker, for the meal, and including the local food providers.

Kimmel said “The goal of the Council is to grow entrepreneurial wealth, and encourage more entrepreneurs to open businesses or to attract more businesses to open in our county.” He continued, “New businesses help to bring growth and development to the community with the support of residents and existing businesses; in other words, we grow the community.”

Kimmel then introduced John Niederman, director of the Fortitude Fund through Elevate Northeast Indiana. Niederman explained the Fortitude Fund and its support of entrepreneurs, “We have helped over 250 entrepreneurs with $1,000 grants, and we like to connect people. To learn more or apply visit fortitudefund.com.

The entrepreneurial ‘Meet & Greet’ featured three entrepreneurs who spoke about their businesses. Ron Current, the plant manager for Sortera Alloys, and Amber and Justin Miller of BroxonBerry. Both are Markle area startup businesses.

Sortera Alloys brings state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, image/data analytics and advanced sensors to the industrial scrap metal recycling and re-use industry.

Current, left, explained that Sortera is a “technology sandwich,” and uses a different method of thinking when it comes to recycling. He explained, “This disruptive technology drives new paradigms by generating new high purity recycled products through advanced industrial scale sortation methods. This creates high purity recycled and up-cycled metal feedstocks from existing scrap streams and enables the domestic supply of metals and alloys ready for use in high-quality domestic manufacturing, boosting the strength of the circular economy.” He said, “Sortera’s vision is to enable 100% reuse of metals removed from end-of-life products for manufacturing of similar products.”

Sortera is currently recycling aluminum products, but is looking into other metals for future use. The business has 42 patents and sorts metal across four grades of aluminum, according to Current. He said that the building was constructed in Markle and the business was up and running in a year. It is fully staffed and has zero voluntary turnover.

Amber and Justin Miller then spoke about BroxonBerry, a small 4/10 of an acre farm, where certified naturally grown produce is farmed, sold and distributed. Amber started BroxonBerry in 2016 with the vision on replacing her full-time job that did not allow time for family.

A wide range of fresh produce is grown for sale at the farm, at local restaurants, grocery stores and the Farmer’s Market on Barr Street, Fort Wayne. Leafy green vegetables, carrots, zucchini, pumpkins and more are grown at BroxonBerry. A weekly box order on the farm and online sales are also available. The couple supply locals with produce nine months of the year. The business is CNG Certified.

Amber’s dream quickly grew into a business that became too large for her to handle by herself, so Justin joined her, leaving his full-time job. He has been instrumental in streamlining how produce is grown and distributed. He also makes deliveries. Together, they make BroxonBerry a very successful entity.

They say, “What keeps us going is our customer feedback. The job is not always unicorns and rainbows, but hearing how what they grow has affected someone in one way or another is a powerful motivator.”

If you are an entrepreneur, aspiring entrepreneur, own your own business or are thinking about starting a business consider attending the next ‘Meet & Greet.’ For more information contact skimmel@huntington-chamber.com.