A collaboration between the City of Muncie, Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Center, and the In Place Impact Muncie Initiative has resulted in a free class aimed at fostering innovative solutions to make a positive impact on the local community. 

Starting Sept. 13, 2022, the In Place Impact Muncie Initiative will begin offering a free 12-week “Impact X class” taught by Christiana Mann, assistant lecturer of hospitality innovation and leadership at Ball State; Mike Martin, a local entrepreneur and artist; and Kory Gipson, Common Market co-owner and community listener. 

Though not college accredited, the class will be held on Ball State’s campus. The program, which originated at the College of Charleston’s School of Business, is specifically held at Ball State so the community feels welcome at, and a part of, the University and its beautiful campus. 

The class will ultimately help participants develop realistic and meaningful impact-focused innovations to address social, economic, and environmental issues within the Muncie community. 

“The goal when you walk out of the class is to have a ‘pitch deck’ that you could walk onto the set of Shark Tank with, and be prepared to answer those tough questions,” Mr. Martin said. 

Mr. Martin had originally taken the Impact X class at the College of Charleston to help formulate his Common Market concept, located in Muncie at Eighth Street and Hoyt Avenue. While taking this class, Mr. Martin became acquainted with Stuart Williams, the founder and CEO of In Place Impact, and started working on bringing Mr. Williams to Muncie to meet with city, community, and business leaders. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, Mr. Martin and Mr. Williams began a series of virtual meetings with city officials aimed at bringing In Place Economics to Muncie. Mr. Williams was finally able to visit Muncie in person for the first time in March 2022, when he invited the public to an open forum to learn about In Place Economics. This led to Muncie mayor Dan Ridenour agreeing to conduct an initial “Government In Place Index,” in which the city goes through a thorough evaluation about its inclusiveness in hiring, economic vibrancy for all residents, and the environmental impact among many other factors designed to take a genuine look at Muncie’s impact as a city. 

“I wanted a way for everyone to participate in the future of Muncie, and have their voice heard,” Mayor Ridenour said. “When I say everyone, that’s what I mean. This program helps create space for all residents to participate in the program.” 

The goal of In Place Economics is to create a circular economic model that empowers all residents of a community. One requirement of the program—certification training for local government officials and business owners—is now complete. Michele Owen, communications director for the City of Muncie, was among those who completed the training and is currently carrying out the city’s Government In Place Index. 

The other requirement for certification is the offering of a free community class, which led to the partnership with Ball State’s Entrepreneurship Center. 

“One of the reasons that we require that the consultants do the free community class is that this has always been a huge barrier to entry for the most marginalized segments of a community,” Mr. Williams said. “At the College of Charleston, where we initially launched the program, we’ve had hundreds of people take class, and the vast majority being minorities and women.” 

Space will be limited for the Impact X class at Ball State. For more information about the class and registration, email munciecommonmarket@gmail.com.