Society of Innovators asks for nominations

Pulaski County was distinguished with the honor of being one of seven counties to host a news conference for The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana on June 11.

The meeting was hosted by Pulaski County Economic Development and sponsored by NIPSCO. The initiative is called Expedition Innovation 2015 - A Call for Nominations.

Pulaski County Commissioner Larry Brady opened the call for nominations presentation. He encouraged those in the audience to become innovators and said he is pleased that the county is hosting a kick off for the second decade of The Society of Innovators.

“Over the past decade, the society has recognized a number of distinguished leaders across Northwest Indiana and promoted the importance of innovation,” he said. “We our proud of innovations demonstrated by our business and community leaders of Pulaski County, especially BraunAbility launched by the late Ralph Braun.”

He said as a community leader he challenged those in the community to use their diversity to be potential innovators.

Don Babcock, NIPSCO Economic Development Director and The Society of Innovators Board Governor, used the example of Thomas Edison’s first light bulb as a success after “finding 10,000 ways it won’t work.”

He said he is pumped about the future of Northwest Indiana and “Pulaski County is an important part of Northwest Indiana.”

“This particular effort is to pull us together to find more innovation and entrepreneurs and celebrate their successes,” he said.

He said companies like Braun need to be celebrated. He said he has heard the Braun story several times during the last 20 years. “A great person. A great organization and a great legacy.”

He encouraged those in the audience to submit a nomination of local innovators such as Braun.

“In order to make this happen, we need to enlist support at the local level,” Babcock said.

BraunAbility Brand Manager Megan Wegner spoke about Braun’s story and the five lessons that can be learned from him.

Braun was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. Instead of choosing to rely on others he created the world’s first electric scooter. His innovations grew to the first wheelchair lift.

His lessons include putting the customer first, not making excuses, surrounding oneself with good people, never stop improving and believing in ones own God-given abilities.

Wegner said she had just started working part-time for BraunAbility when Braun was recognized by the society.

“I know, for a fact, that even though Ralph received many, many awards in the mobility industry it meant a great deal to him to be recognized by his local community and Northwest Indiana,” Wegner said.

She said he didn’t receive a lot of support, outside of his family, but continued to make a difference. She thanked those who have come together to encourage this type of entrepreneurship.

O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Ivy Tech Community College Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, said innovators should remember not to stop because anything can be possible. She explained how the society of innovators is dedicated to discovering and honoring innovators. She also explained the values of the organization that “believes anyone can be an innovator.”

Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan P. Origer gave the top 10 innovations that were created in Pulaski County including the pronouncing of “Pulaski,” and using the natural resources as tourist attractions such as the state park and the sand hill cranes.

John Davies, assistant director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, encouraged a call for nominations.

He also encouraged those in the community to embrace the Spirit of Indiana Jones. He said adventure can lead to greatness and “deepen innovation across the seven counties of Indiana.” He said it will be a team effort and innovation must be encouraged.

Pulaski County Journal

114 W. Main Street
Winamac, IN 46996

Office Number: (574) 946-6628
Fax Number: (574) 946-7471

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