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The Evansville Courier & Press published a nice tribute a few weeks ago to the late Phil Koch and the spirit of community and business involvement for which he was known. The recounting of all the things the Koch family has done for our area brought back plenty of good memories for many.
We still miss the entrepreneurism and optimism of Will Koch, Phil’s late brother. Both men, as have their siblings, followed in the visionary footsteps of their father, Bill Koch, in promoting community involvement in southern Indiana and building successful businesses.
Today, southern Indiana is a destination for more than 1 million visitors, many of them to Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. That influx of visitors is felt here in Perry County in the form of hotel stays, restaurant and convenience store purchases and added customers at local stores.
The loss of the Kochs has been a blow and while we believe their businesses are well managed and have bright futures, some in our community have pointed to an entrepreneurial void in Spencer and Perry counties.
Admittedly, the entrepreneurial spirit that existed in the past has felt diminished at times. Two generations ago, Bill Koch was planning the growth of what are today Holiday World and Christmas Lake Village. The Mulzer Brothers were growing their businesses of stone, coal and farming. The Fenn family, long at the helm of Tell City Chair Co., was manufacturing furniture known around the world, and Tell City was a manufacturing hub for furniture, General Electric motors and even pretzels.
What’s changed? Businesses matured, markets changed and some businesses suffered mightily in the economic challenges of the 1970s and 80s. Some firms closed permanently. Others reopened. And new ones have sprouted.
Entrepreneurs are still stepping forward in our community and they deserve recognition.
Chris Cail cut the ribbon on his Firehouse Printing last week on Humboldt Street. His investment returns a needed service to the community and helps to keep dollars in our area. It also puts an old building to a new use.
Over the past year, our community has welcomed several new businesses covering a range of products and services, restaurants, self-storage and rental equipment. We also hear reports that a new hotel is still a possibility for the city’s downtown, something we want to see occur.
We believe entrepreneurship is making a comeback and we are happy that the spirit of creativity and hard work which drove Tell City’s founders is alive and well.
We encourage local officials to encourage and support local business development, especially small businesses. We need to leverage local and outside resources, grants and affordable loans, job training for new workers and assistance in tapping new markets.
Entrepreneurs are needed today more than ever and we encourage anyone harboring the dream of owning their own business to take risks.
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