21Sep Entrepreneurs Wanted for The Forge Business Classes and Competition by Wendy Weichenthal (Marion) Local residents interested in starting or growing a small business are invited to sign up for The Forge business competition and enjoy free business classes from Marion Technical College. The top business start-ups will compete for $2,500 prize money in November. Mike Augenstein “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Mike Augenstein, Director of Workforce Solutions for Marion Tech. “In a challenging economy, we want to give local entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed.” Online classes start Sept. 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through Nov. 5. The competition for $2,500 in start-up funds will be held Nov. 12. This “Shark Tank” style competition was started by the 2016-2017 Leadership Marion class through the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce. A number of local business owners have taken part in the Forge, including Attaboys, The Explore-It-Torium, the Heirloom Studio, the Main Squeeze, Social Sip, Sights Unseen Travel and the Sweada Mae Art Café. Graduates of the The Forge class of 2017 wrap up their last class. Cindy Binns, winner of the competition, receives her $2,500 prize. “I loved the Forge. Whether you already started a business or want to start a business, there is so much great information to help you answer a lot of questions,” said Jill Chitwood, owner of Sights Unseen Travel. Professor Scott Hughes will again be teaching the classes. Register at www.mtc.edu/the-forge/. The Forge was in response to a study by the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce that showed Marion was below average in small business start-ups compared to neighboring counties and the state. These new start-ups are turning that trend around. This impacts the jobs and wealth our community. A 2017 survey by Fidelity found that nearly 90% of millionaires are self-made.