DaVita Kidney Care-South Bend

A DaVita Kidney Care is currently under construction at behind the Drive and Shine at the northeast corner of Ironwood and Ireland Rd.  This is the second DaVita center in South Bend, and one of a number of kidney care facilities including Nephrology Inc and Kidney Care Partners.   DaVita is a division of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc., a Fortune 500 company that provide.  The DaVita Kidney Care provides kidney dialysis and other treatments to patients suffering from chronic kidney issues.  http://www.davita.com/about

We have seen an significant increase in the number of kidney dialysis centers in our area.  Healthcare in general is a growing industry due to the aging population, but what is the reason for the increase in kidney specific care?  According to the Kidney Care Partners website, over 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease and 605,000 suffer from kidney failure each year.  The website also predict this number is expected to double over the next 10 years.  Kidney disease is attributable to diabetes and hypertension, which is also a significant and growing problem for Americans.  One other less discussed causes of kidney failure is the use of methamphetamines, an abusive addiction that has also been on the rise.

Expect healthcare to remain a significant industry and developer of office real estate for years to come.



Chamber Business Expo

Another Chamber Business Expo in St Joseph County is complete, and from the attendance, it appears to once again be a successful event for businesses.  The Business Expo is definitely the biggest networking and business showcase event of the year, but I am always curious in the value businesses and the people get out of it.  I do believe it is a valuable event for those that have a booth to get their name and products or services in front of hundreds of people.  It is also a great opportunity for those of us in business development to make some new connections and revisit and strengthen others.

This was my 8th Chamber Expo event, and typically I try to circulate through the entire show, check into people I know and look for interesting businesses.   I seldom make it through the entire show as I inevitably run into several people I recognize and take time to chat with everyone.  I walk down a couple aisles, have multiple conversations, and before I know it, it’s time for me to hit the door and pick up my kids.

This year I tried a different tactic, which I admit, should have been my tactic years ago.  This year I looked down the list of vendor companies and highlighted those that I wanted to make a new connection with or those that I wanted to make sure I said hello to.  These were all companies or people that I thought could directly help my business grow either through referrals new client relationships.  I knew my time at the show was going to be short so I chose those that were new to me.

Going into the Expo with this highlighted map gave me a plan to focus on and something that I could look at after and know that I had made the best use of my time.  While I was unable to visit every business that I had highlighted, I was able to visit a few and make some new connections.  As always, I ran into several people that I hadn’t seen in a while and could have easily spent another hour at the event.  When it came time for me to leave, it still took me another 15 minutes to make it to the exit as I continued to visit with people I passed by. However, because of my planning prior to the Expo, I was able to make those most desirable connections.

Did you plan for the event and how successful do you think you were?

Downtown Elkhart dining

I have been spending more time lately in downtown Elkhart, meeting for lunch or sometimes just driving through taking note of activity. On a recent visit, I was meeting with a downtown building owner to discuss the potential sale of her building.  I was downtown early and it was a beautiful day outside so I decided to walk a couple blocks and look for a quick bite to eat.  I was about 12:40pm when I stepped into the Pumpernickel Pretzel Bakery at 500 S Main St.  Being my first time in the café, I discovered a cute and friendly café with a selection of sandwiches and soups. But what I was struck by was the fact that my coming in had doubled Pumpernickel’s business at that time.  I ordered a bowl of homemade soup and for the 10 minutes I stayed in the café to eat my soup, the other diner and I remained the only two customers.  Pumpernickel also runs a catering business and has a banquet room upstairs, but according to the staff that day, lunch business is sporadic.

With still some time before my appointment, I decided to walk south and check out the Cubby Bear Pizza.  I had heard about it several times, driven by in, but had not yet visited.  I stepped in just before 1pm and was greeted by the very friendly manager.  I told her I was just checking the place out and she happily showed me the dining and the bar area.  We chatted about business and I noted that there was only one table of guests in the dining area, albeit a group of 10.  The manager admitted lunch was definitely a struggle.  She explained the lack of lunch business as, “that’s Elkhart”.  I really wasn’t sure what that meant, but I know that most of the economic strength of the city lies in the RV manufacturers in the industrial areas of the city.

In the previous couple weeks I had a business lunch a couple times at the 523 Tap and Grill.  Lunch each time was good, but it was clear by the crowd they could be doing more business.  I really began to wonder, where do the employees that work downtown eat their lunch?  Do they bring their lunch from home or do they spread out further from the 500 block and visit other establishments.  Walking or driving down Main St even on a beautiful day, there is seldom seen the hustle and bustle of pedestrians.  There are several large businesses downtown including Patrick Industries, Key Bank, Barnes & Thornburg, Chase Bank and government offices, but where are the people?

Downtown Elkhart does have other restaurants and they are spread out over a 5-7 block radius including Michael’s Italian on 6th Street and McCarthy’s on Nibco Parkway.  The density of the working population is not great, even compared to Elkhart’s neighbor to the west, South Bend.  The Chase Building, one of the largest multitenant buildings in Elkhart, is only four floors.  South Bend maintains a fairly lively lunch crowd in its downtown, but there are an estimated 20,000 employees in that downtown and the majority of them and the restaurants are in a 2-3 block street of Michigan Ave.  Elkhart’s downtown working population is significantly smaller and spread out over a larger area.

As Elkhart works with SoMa to revitalize its downtown area, one thing that I believe would be beneficial would be to try and focus redevelopment in a small one block area and then move outward.  Create small dining district centered 1 block around the Lerner Theater.  Then find another entertainment venue a few blocks down Main St to provide another bookend to the Main St strip.  Density of business between the two would be greatest and other destinations can spread beyond.  Arts district can be focused in a particular portion of the downtown that is still easily accessible but a bit outside the major office and restaurant density.  That is obviously easier said than done and requires the local population to support and the great entrepreneurs the county is known for to invest in the area.  Downtown Elkhart has recently done some great things with improvements including street scaping, the plaza, the river walk and The Lerner Theater. To me, it really feels like there is great potential.  In the meantime, get out and support the businesses.

IUSB Entrepreneur Lecture Series

The Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics at Indiana University South Bend annually hosts one of the great free events in our community.  Each year, Christine Pochert, associate professor of marketing at IUSB and SBSCC grant writer, coordinates the Entrepreneur Lecture series.  Each week, a different business leader from the Michiana community comes to the school and delivers a select topic presentation to the students and any member of the community that chooses to come.  Each speaker takes questions from the audience and is typically available before and after the event to meet and chat with guest.  One of the things I love about this event is that it is hosted in a relatively intimate lecture hall on IUSB campus, which allows the speaker to interact with the audience. 

If you have never been, check out the line up and attend.  It’s a great time to meet the guests, there is no cost and lot and street parking is easy.