Featured News Archives for 2015-11

The students at Kenton High School are getting training which may pay off for them long after graduation day.

The students at Kenton High School are getting training which may pay off for them long after graduation day. Jane Ensign is the instructor of the Kenton Kommunity Konnectors program at the school, which is in its first year and was established with a state grant received by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance. “The goal is to promote one-on-one mentoring for students to find a career path in the field of their interest,” said Ensign. “This gives students an opportunity to mentor in that field and make sure that is what they want to do before they go to college and declare a major.”

The Konnectors students are juniors and seniors, but the $128,000 Ohio Department of Education community grant secured for KCS by the Alliance also funds a mentoring program for the students in grades five through ten, said Ensign.

The Alliance applied for the grant in partnership with several other organizations, including the Ministerial Association in Kenton and Quest Federal Credit Union, she continued. Some students enter their junior year in high school thinking they know exactly what they want to do with their adult lives, she said, but others have no idea what career they should pursue.

The Konnector program will give the students a taste for the responsibilities and educational background needed to be successful in a career, said Ensign. Most of the 29 students enrolled in the program have identified business or management administration as a field they would be interested in training to join. Education and health science are also popular choices for the Konnector members, Ensign said. The school year for the students is divided into two parts. This grading period, the teens are hearing from professionals regarding their own career paths.

While that part of the training is going on, Ensign is matching up people in the community to serve as mentors to the students in the second semester. While this is the first year for this type of program at Kenton High School, Ensign has a solid background in this area. She has worked in similar mentoring/training programs in Dublin, Metro Early College High School and the OSU STEM school in Reynoldsburg.

In the classroom, students have heard from area businessmen like Kenton graduate David Haushaulter. Lt. Robert Lutes of the Kenton Police Department shared experiences in law enforcement with the students. Shawn Root told the students how the company he works for, Thomas and Marker, is designing the new ski lodge at Mad River Mountain.

“I thought this program would be a good opportunity for me to decide on what path to go: nursing or pharmacy,” said student Molly Walter.

“It has helped me a lot. The speakers are really good. They come in and discuss their jobs.”

Student Jarred McNeely said he was convinced after high school that he would enter the field of welding and fabricating, but in recent weeks in the program, he is now looking at a future in wildlife and natural resources.

While there is no requirement for the students to be compensated for their work, she said, it is her hope the students will receive a pay check when they work with companies in the second semester which they can set aside to cover college expenses.


The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance has announced a new partnership with Hardin Leadership Inc.

The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance has announced a new partnership with Hardin Leadership Inc., as the two organizations will work together to help recruit, train and engage community and business leaders throughout Hardin County.

Staring this year, all 2015 graduates will be provided a one-year free membership to the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, which will provide many opportunities to continue their leadership engagement through the various programs, events and committees that are coordinated with our chamber, tourism, economic development and community development divisions.

“We are excited to partner with the Alliance to offer this incentive to our graduates. This will only strengthen and improve the already diverse leadership training experience we offer,” said Tobey Steinman, board president of Hardin Leadership Inc. “Hardin Leadership has a goal to identify, develop, motivate and involve potential community leaders, and this partnership gives them another place to use the skills they have learned from the Hardin Leadership program."

This joint venture was board-approved this year by both organizations in a move to enhance the importance of leadership development. In addition, this was an important action item achieved within the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance’s five-year strategic plan.

“As Hardin County’s economy is growing and we are attracting new residents and businesses to our communities, developing strong leaders is critical to the success of our communities,” said Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance.

 


To call Harvest Pride a Hardin County family business might be an understatement. The tortilla chips which are showing up on store shelves throughout the area are products of the Denny Hensel family.

To call Harvest Pride a Hardin County family business might be an understatement. The tortilla chips which are showing up on store shelves throughout the area are products of the Denny Hensel family. The corn is raised by Denny and sent to a manufacturing facility he owns in Ada. After processing, the corn is pounded and formed into chips by five members of the family and delivered in their family mini-vans and cars to stores in three counties. “It’s a lot of hard work,” said his daughter, Dawn Steiner.

But customers have begun asking for the Harvest Pride chips and the company’s future looks rosy. The area deliveries may be just the beginning. Denny said he began growing food-grade corn and cleaning it to be made into chips in 1987.

The corn is higher grade than a standard field corn and comes in a variety of colors, he explained.

Hensel planted about 900 of his 1,500 acres of farmland into white, yellow, blue and red corn. At first, he hauled it to the Seyfert factory in Indiana, where owner Joe Seyfert showed him his operation. Back then, said Hensel, Seyfert didn’t make a tortilla chip, but did produce a small, thicker corn chip. Denny began hauling his Hardin County corn to other chip producers, often spending four days a week on the road, taking him as far as Grand Rapids, Mich., to Washington, D.C.The idea of using his own corn to make the chips was never far from his mind after seeing how Seyfert’s system operated, he said. He met with his family and asked them to buy into the idea of producing tortilla chips locally.

His two daughters and their husbands each brought special talents to his proposed company. Denise Grappy is a pharmacist, he said, and has an understanding of chemistry helps her oversee the quality of the product. Dawn graduated with a degree in communications and uses her skills with Denise in marketing. Denise’s husband, Josh Grappy, is handy with computers and agreed to not only keep track of the company’s inventory, but design the packaging for the finished product. And Jared Steiner, Dawn’s husband, handles the mechanical needs of the equipment. “Everyone was on board from the get-go,” said Denny. “I wouldn’t have tried to tackle it without them.”

His next stop was at the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, where Hensel said he found his strongest supporter in Economic Development Director John Hohn. “John was instrumental from the beginning,” said Denny. “He is our biggest cheerleader.” Hohn made the connection with the village of Ada and set things in motion to build the new facility in the town’s industrial park. It was important to Hensel to keep as much of the business for the building local, including financing it through Ag Credit.

In late summer, the first bags of Harvest Pride rolled off the production line with the entire Hensel family involved. “We are all playing a part,” said Denise. The colored corn is cooked for 14 hours in a vat filled with water and lime to get the skin off. It then goes through the washing system before it is ground into a pulp. “It looks something like cookie dough,” Denny said. The corn masa, as the pulp is called, goes through a sheeter, where two 10-inch rollers flatten it and a rotating die cuts the masa into chips. Harvest Pride can produce triangular or round chips, but at the present time is selling only the triangular style. The chips then go through an oven where they are baked at 600 degrees. After they cool on racks, the chips are fried, seasoned and bagged, ready to go to the customers.

But first, Dawn tags the Harvest Pride bags with an expiration date. The first place the tortilla chips were offered to the public was at the Mount Victory Plaza Inn in July, said Denise. The 302 Carryout in Ada followed and now, customers in Hardin, Hancock and Allen counties are buying the chips made at the Ada factory. Harvest Pride’s reputation has grown in a short time. Currently there are 14 stores selling the chips. “But that changes daily,” said Dawn.

The company is making its chips available to the Fresh Encounter stores, such as Community Markets and Chief, and the family is in discussion with Kroger. There are plans to expand the operation and new equipment is already being installed to make the tortilla chips faster and better. There also are plans to sell the white chips to area restaurants and the uncooked chips for Mexican restaurants to prepare on site. The business has grown to the point to where Denny has hired a distributor for his chips. The days of delivering the chips in their family vehicles may be numbered. The family is also working on a newly designed bag, which will be more durable and keep the product fresher longer. The bags will have the new Farm-to-Table logo on the side. The logo was designed for the Alliance especially to promote the Harvest Pride chips, said Denise.

Denny said he is happy with the success the company has seen in such a short time and often thinks back on the day in 1987 when he visited the Seyfert factory for the first time. “That was when the wheels started turning,” he said.

The public response to the blue corn, guacamole, ranch, nacho cheese and the new chili lime chips has been very positive.

Not only do customers ask for them and tell the family how much they enjoy them, but the proof is in the sales. The factory operates only when there is a need to make more chips. They make about 1,500 one-pound bags of chips in a day.


St. Rita’s Professional Services broke ground Monday on a new $1 million facility in Ada. Located across from the Ada school on Ohio 81, the new offices are expected to open in April.

St. Rita’s Professional Services broke ground Monday on a new $1 million facility in Ada. Located across from the Ada school on Ohio 81, the new offices are expected to open in April.

The 6,000-square-foot building will be the home of two medical providers, said Randy Buss, Outreach Marketing Manager for St. Rita’s, with enough room to expand to three providers if needed. The facility will offer general family medical services with x-ray and labs available.

Breaking the ground are Director of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance Jon Cross, Commissioner Brice Beaman, Ada Mayor David Retterer, Tara Miller of St. Rita’s, Developer Mark Jarvis, Ronda Lehman and Herb Schumm of St. Rita’s, Deb Curlis of the Ada Chamber of Commerce and Bob Bash, CEO of St. Rita’s Medical Center.


The Ada Community Improvement Corporation was presented with a check for $1,500 because of its participation in an economic development program.

The Ada Community Improvement Corporation was presented with a check for $1,500 because of its participation in an economic development program.

Jon Cross, president and CEO of business development, and John Hohn, director of economic development, both with the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, were present at Tuesday night’s village council meeting to present the check to village administrator Jim Meyer, who in turn will take the check with him to the Ada CIC.

The Alliance staff, officials from the Ada CIC, as well as the Forest CIC, participated in AEP Ohio’s 2015 Community Economic Development Academy, Cross said. The academy was a multi-phase program that included attending site selection workshops, preparing new marketing strategies and hosting national site selectors for tours of the county’s top industrial sites.

The $1,500 given to the Ada CIC, Cross said, is being shared from the grant money received by the Alliance and for participating in the academy. The original grant money was provided by AEP Ohio.“Community Improvement Corporations are very important to our county,” Cross said.

“They really help communities – the village of Ada and the village of Forest, we have one in the village of Mount Victory, I believe we’re having one in Dunkirk – it really helps with economic development and community development strategies, so it’s very important. There’s also legal things they can do that councils can’t do.”