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1/7/2018 11:37:00 AM
Trend show a dip in the number of small businesses in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties
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A room on the former Ziker Cleaner campus, now Vested Interest, is filled with pianos waiting to be refurbished by Merriman’s Complete Piano Service. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
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A room on the former Ziker Cleaner campus, now Vested Interest, is filled with pianos waiting to be refurbished by Merriman’s Complete Piano Service. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Caleb Bauer, South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — In St. Joseph and Elkhart counties, small business makes a big economic impact, contributing nearly half of the employment in the two counties and covering a diverse array of ventures.

But an economic trend indicates that this sector may still be recovering from the Great Recession.

David Ziker, a third generation small business owner of Ziker Cleaners, is one person hoping to revitalize small business growth in the area.

After selling off the long-time dry cleaning business’ industrial uniform wing in 2014, Ziker needed to downsize from the sprawling 70,000 square foot South Bend campus on Sample Street, where the family business had grown since the 1930s. The company moved to a new facility in Mishawaka, and Ziker planned to sell the Sample Street complex.

But once it was on the market, there wasn’t much interest.

“We tried to sell, but it didn’t get a bite,” Ziker said.

So instead, with the help of LangLab co-owner Rami Sadek, Ziker decided in May to turn the campus into a space to house small businesses and burgeoning artists, called. He called it, Vested Interest.

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