Kosciusko County – The Place to Start a Business
“There is no better place in the world to build a business and a life than right here,” Chris Scheeren, Owner of Blue Barn Berry Farm and Founder and Principal Owner of Empowering Voices, Inc., said as he sat in Farmhouse Events & Catering, another venue he and his family own near Blue Barn Berry Farm. “There’s a genuine sense that everybody wants everyone here to succeed.”
Chris was born in Cincinnati and then his family moved to Florida when he was in middle school. He graduated from the University of Central Florida, and this is where he met his future wife, a pretty Indiana farm girl. Chris and his wife, Shanda, moved to Kosciusko County ten years ago to start Shanda’s dream business.
“My wife gets all the credit. Blue Barn Berry Farm is her and her mom’s baby. So about 12 years ago, my mother-in-law, Peggy Booker, wanted to take just a small sliver of their farm land and turn it into a u-pick blueberry farm,” Chris explained.
The business started out as a small shed with a cash box but has now grown to a multiple building and multiple location business. Their business now includes a u-pick blueberry farm, little country market, that included produce delivery through the pandemic, a fundraising arm called Blue Barn Fundraising, that works with schools and non-profits all over Indiana, and the core of their business, their beautiful indoor event venue and wedding pavilion. Additionally, they have another event and catering venue called Farmhouse Events & Catering.
Kosciusko On Purpose
Chris is also the Founder and Owner of Empowering Voices, Inc. and has done professional speaking engagements and training seminars across the world. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and the US Army, to name a few. With his career involving a lot of travel, Chris and his wife could have chosen to live anywhere, but they purposely choose Kosciusko County.
“So literally, we could have picked anywhere, anywhere that had reasonable access to an airport. And we picked here very much on purpose,” Chris stated.
Kosciusko Community Connections
Chris and his wife have two daughters, both of whom are enrolled at Milford Elementary School. Chris also coaches basketball for his daughter’s basketball team and is involved with both the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a really easy place to get involved if you choose to. Where we were living in the Clearwater, Tampa, Florida area there were a million people. Probably more than that. It’s easy to get swallowed up. But not here. Here we were able to build a business at a relatively affordable price,” Chris explained about his transition from Florida.
He went on to describe how incredibly supportive of his business the community has been, and how instead of being in competition with other businesses he has been able to develop many wonderful partnerships. When he was starting Blue Barn Berry Farm, he even had government officials and company CEOs in the area take time to talk to him and help him as he formed his family’s new business.
Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
His closing advice to young entrepreneurs looking to potentially start a business in Kosciusko County is to just start.
“Do it. There are so many resources available for you here. If it’s knowledge you need, it’s available, you’ve got Chambers of Commerce, you’ve got very active, dedicated business leaders. If it’s financial resources, they are out there. But for any young entrepreneur, it kills me when everyone’s waiting for something. Do it. Take the first step in faith, even if you can’t see the whole staircase.” He concluded, “I am Clearly Kosciusko by Choice.”
Kosciusko by Choice
Kosciusko by Choice is an on-going video series highlighting the stories of individuals who have chosen to make their home in Kosciusko County. Stay tuned for the next video in the series!