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If you go
What: Northeast Indiana Manufacturer’s Showcase
Who: About 30 diverse manufacturers will display and demonstrate their products.
When: 3 to 5 p.m. Friday
Where: Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Admission: Free
Information: Call Rachel Bennett Steury at 260-633-1060
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Lois Meissner-Yoder shops for jumbo jelly beans at the Wakarusa Dime Store, which is part of the Northeast Indiana Manufacturer’s Showcase.

Local businesses showcased

Goods featured during Democratic Convention

Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Angie and Rick Corcimiglia own Rickle’s Pickles, based in downtown Fremont.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Jeff Face is the owner of American Made Shopper in Angola.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Renee Gabet is the owner of Annie Oakley Perfumery in Ligonier.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Hoosier-made granite ware is among the products sold at American Made Shopper in Angola.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
These essences are destined for perfumes at Annie Oakley Perfumery in Ligonier.
Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Rickle’s Pickles, founded in 2008, specializes in pickles, pickled jalapeños and mustard.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
The Wakarusa Dime Store, more than 100 years old, sells more than 450 kinds of candy.

Some opportunities are too good to pass up.

That’s what a group of local folks thought when they heard that Fort Wayne was selected to host the Indiana Democratic Party’s state convention this week. The event is expected to draw between 2,000 and 2,500, many who’ll be first-time visitors.

Dan O’Connell, director of Visit Fort Wayne, has estimated that the event alone might generate up to $400,000 for the local economy. But some folks wanted to leverage that economic effect by organizing non-political events to show off the region’s manufacturing base and tourism draws. The hope: Visitors will come back, and area residents will learn more about local employers.

Carmen Darland, chairwoman of the Fort Wayne 2012 Convention Committee, said the highlight will be the Northeast Indiana Manufacturer’s Showcase.

“From trucks to chickens to wine, we make it,” she said.

Rachel Bennett Steury, a committee member, said the event is designed to celebrate the region’s manufacturing base. She is the Auburn-based field coordinator for the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership between labor and management.

About three dozen companies were invited to participate at the Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel, which are across the street from the convention. Organizers approached various companies, with an emphasis on the unexpected, Bennett Steury said.

“We didn’t want a whole bunch of the big guys. We wanted things you didn’t even know were made in northeast Indiana,” she said.

Some smaller companies that agreed to participate include Folkcraft Instruments, a Woodburn dulcimer maker; Ellison Bakery, a local cookie maker; IQ Meats Custom Butchering, a Butler butcher shop; Bowmar LLC, a local aerospace and defense contractor; and Arrowhead Popcorn, a LaGrange snack company.

More familiar employers are also on the list, including General Motors, which assembles pickup trucks in Allen County; Michelin, whose BF Goodrich plant manufactures tires in Woodburn; ITT/Exelis, a local aerospace and defense contractor; and Rea Magnet Wire, a local maker of magnet wire, which is found in every item with a motor.

Darland believes that as awareness of local companies grows, people will be more inclined to support them.

Read on to learn more about some lesser-known showcase participants.

Rickle’s Pickles

Business: The company makes sour garlic-jalapeno-dill pickles, pickled jalapeños and mustard.

Address: 103 E. Toledo St., Fremont

Founded: 2008

Employees: Two; production is outsourced to companies in Bloomington and Kalamazoo, Mich.

2011 revenue: $480,000

What’s next: Owner Rick Corcimiglia just signed a contract that will put jars of Rickle’s Pickles in 5,400 Ace Hardware stores across the country.

Annie Oakley Perfumery

Business: The company creates, blends, fills and packages perfumes and toiletries.

Address: 300 Johnson St., Ligonier

Founded: 1980

Employees: Six to 10

2011 revenue: Not disclosed

What’s next: Owner Renee Gabet is designing new collections for different niche markets. The company is also creating an artisan park for the community near its headquarters.

Wakarusa Dime Store

Business: The store sells 450 kinds of candy, including its famous recipe jumbo jelly beans, which are about the size of an adult thumb.

Address: 103 E. Waterford St., Wakarusa

Founded: The store opened in 1907; jumbo jelly beans were first created in 1969

Employees: 12

2011 revenue: Not disclosed

What’s next: Owner Mac McNally said the company will sell about 100 tons of jumbo jelly beans this year. He launched a fundraising division two years ago and is building up the sell-by-color division, which works with wedding parties and corporate event planners.

American Made Shopper

Business: The store sells only products made in the U.S. About 30 percent of the store’s inventory is made in Indiana.

Address: 2010 N. Wayne St., Angola

Founded: 2010

Employees: Six

2011 revenue: $300,000

What’s next: Owner Jeff Face said he’s exploring the Fort Wayne market, looking for investors and retail space to lease for the company’s second location. He’s also considering the South Bend market.