Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 31, 2012

Chamber's LaunchPad is a valuable part of the big picture


— In the glossy world of big business, we sometimes forget that even the grandest of dreams grows from small, humble beginnings. The first Apple computers were built in a mom and dad’s two-stall garage in California less than 40 years ago. Earlier this year Apple’s net worth eclipsed $500 billion for the first time in the company’s history.

Facebook, the social media behemoth, was born in a Harvard dorm room in Cambridge, Mass., less than a decade ago. Despite Facebook’s well-documented troubles on the stock market since going public, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is still worth a reported $9.4 billion as of last month. He is all of 28 years old.

Could the next Apple or Facebook be lurking right here in our community? Never say never. That’s why we would like to commend the Goshen Chamber of Commerce on the recent launch preview of its aptly named LaunchPad. The business incubator project will offer both space and basic services to local entrepreneurs as they work to develop their ideas, seek investors and craft their business plan.

The open-floor concept in the second level of the Chamber of Commerce building is meant to foster idea sharing, communication and ingenuity among its members utilizing the LaunchPad. It’s a premise that has proven successful elsewhere.

A great local example would be Innovation Park in South Bend near the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Granted, that building was built about six years ago on a much larger scale specifically for the type of business and technology nurturing we’re talking about now.

Still, as Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have proven, size doesn’t really matter. It’s about getting the right people together to take an idea, a passion, a need to heights beyond what can be imagined.

That may sound romantic, but it’s possible here too. So is the prospect of simply finding a way to make a living through brewing beer, building motorcycles or selling record albums. People representing all three of those endeavours were present Thursday during the Chamber’s unveiling of the roughly 3,000-square-foot incubator space. Any help turning those dreams into reality is something that stands to benefit our entire community.

Chamber President David Daugherty said the space should be completed by next spring. Don’t expect this project to be a quick fix to Elkhart County’s economic challenges. The LaunchPad may be starting small, but fostering good ideas and local innovation should always be a part of the big picture.