Careers

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Caty Holm

Posted by on April 18, 2017 | 0 comments

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Caty Holm

This entrepreneur spotlight highlights Caty Holm and The Brandon Foundation, an organization that provides support for youth. Students are paired with mentors who help them academically and emotionally, meeting twice a week throughout the school year. The Brandon Foundation’s mission and vision is incredible, and the way that Caty and the mentors believe in the kiddos and help them overcome life’s hardships in order to reach their full potential is inspiring. I believe that investing in our youth is the best thing we can do to continue to make Fort Wayne a great place to live. Caty had a wonderful perspective on startups, collaboration, and following your passion. Take a look at her story, and take some of her sound advice while you pursue your dreams. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana?  After teaching in the school system for 10 years I noticed that students would come into my classroom at 8 years of age, full of hope that they would become doctors, teachers, etc. I would follow up with those same students years later to find that their dreams were watered down versions of what they used to be. Why was that?  We started to examine the gaps and disparities that were present that kept students from achieving their goals and came up with a program to fill those gaps.  We believe that all students have a gift and destiny to fulfill. At the Brandon Foundation, we strive to help students realize their full potential while providing the academic and social support that they need throughout the years to see their dreams come to pass. What resource in the community has helped you thrive? Indiana Youth Institute was a crucial piece of our growth and development as a nonprofit.  They linked us up with a consultant group, Michael Burns, who has been instrumental in helping our organization with strategic planning and mentor and board training. This resource has been invaluable as they have helped us to be intentional about our goals and metrics and still remain true to our vision and mission. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? Our biggest challenge has been applying for grants and receiving the money that could allow us to pay employees such as an Executive Director, Staff Therapists and other mentor support staff that could help us develop our program into something that could impact a greater number of children. What person has helped you the most in your journey? My dad, also known at The Brandon Foundation as “Mr. Chuck.” Five years ago when this program was just a vision on my heart I told him, “Dad, I’m going to do this thing and I know it sounds crazy, but I think it’s possible.”  Instead of telling me all of the reasons why it wasn’t fathomable or list the obstacles, he said, “Let’s do it!”  Ever since that day, he has been my greatest supporter. He is a mentor to one of our students, has served on the board of directors, and shows up to every service event. He believed in me and so I believed in me, too.  What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Surround yourself with a core group of people who believe in your mission. These people will...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight — Mike Rowland

Posted by on April 4, 2017 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight — Mike Rowland

Entrepreneurship Spotlight — Mike Rowland

We’re back with another Entrepreneurship Spotlight, this time featuring Mike Rowland of Animal Training and Development. Mike has been training dogs in Fort Wayne for over 25 years, and it’s been so fun getting some insight into being an entrepreneur from someone who’s been doing it for years! He definitely has some great perspective for all you future Fort Wayne business owners. His business has evolved from focusing on puppy classes and simple behavior issues, to training service dogs for veterans with PTSD (although he still does puppy classes and potty training). He also now holds seminars and trains future dog trainers. Mike helped my golden retriever and I accomplish our goal of being a therapy team — my dog passed his therapy certification with flying colors! Animal Training and Development is a wonderful asset in our community, check it out! What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? I recognized the need for professional dog trainers in the Fort Wayne area.  There were only a few options back in 1986 and many people were turning their dogs into Animal Care & Control due to relatively common and simple behavior issues like housetraining, jumping, barking, digging and chewing.  I took part in a “Animal Hotline” offered through Animal Care & Control once a week and fielded over twenty calls each day from people that were desperate for help.  It was very rewarding for me as an entrepreneur to take those calls and meet the needs of the callers.  Even though I was doing it for free, I knew the word would spread that people were getting help and that if it worked for them, more people would call.  Within a few weeks, there were more calls to the hotline than I could manage and my business phone began to ring.  It’s been ringing ever since. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? Animal Care & Control, Allen County SPCA, local dog rescue groups and local Veterinarians.  All of these safe havens for animals were great places for me to grow as a professional and give back to those that give so much. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? It takes time and effort to be successful and even more so if you have no money for marketing.  I started with zero investment capital and only passion and dogged determination kept me going through the lean years.  Looking back, those were some of the best days.  Living simply and enjoying what I was doing, knowing I could help people train and enjoy their dogs; it didn’t seem like work at all.  The sense of accomplishment and freedom to do things the way I wanted were reward enough to keep me going. What person has helped you the most in your journey? Every client that found help and told one or two friends.  To this day “word of mouth” proves to be good advertising. What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? First, determine what it is you are passionate about, then figure out how to make a living doing it.  If you can make a living doing what you are passionate about, you will never have to work a day in your...

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The HEDGE: Julie Wall Interview

Posted by on March 15, 2017 | Comments Off on The HEDGE: Julie Wall Interview

The HEDGE: Julie Wall Interview

I have been a fan of Julie Wall, 31, for years now. She was born and raised in Fort Wayne and is the embodiment of a strong individual that is kind, direct, and a true believer in the entrepreneurial spirit. She started her own business, The HEDGE, in 2013. This place is where she has created a solid reputation with locals while feeding her creative spirit. I stopped by her new location at 1016 Broadway in downtown Fort Wayne (open from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday) to chat and see how the new location is treating her. She spent a great deal of time rehabbing the building, and I was eager to see the new space.   I asked her why she selected downtown, and she told me that “If I was ever going to do it, the time was now.” She went on to talk about the new energy happening in our urban core. “The timing is right. It’s so great being downtown. I love seeing people out and about for leisurely purposes. Being open on Saturdays for the hustle and bustle is fun. People are on the streets with their Shop Small bags as compared to five years ago when it was a ghost town down here.”   She offers a wide range of services including custom printing, design, foiling, letterpress, debossing, edge painting, invitations, calligraphy, event signage, engraving, sublimation, fine art, murals, curation, workshops, printing demos, creative consulting, and more. She is heavily involved in the process from beginning to end with her clients and customers. She has been active in everything from weddings and parties to funerals and fundraisers. “People come in with an idea and we figure it out together,” Julie told me with enthusiasm.   When I asked her why she does this, she didn’t hesitate with her answer. “I’ve grown up in a small family business, so I knew I would own my own business someday, too. It’s in my blood. It allows me to be creative every single day. It gives me the chance to disconnect from my own art in a good way, too. Owning your own business is empowering, but being self-employed really never ends. There is only so much time in a day.”   Check out the spring workshops at The HEDGE on the website. Join them on March 25 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. for an open house printing workshop, and an art opening with new work by Daniel Dienelt and Julie. There will be PBR on the house, and delicious cupcakes from Zinnia’s Bakehouse. Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you don’t miss any updates!...

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Northeast Indiana ties to Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery

Posted by on November 11, 2016 | Comments Off on Northeast Indiana ties to Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery

Northeast Indiana ties to Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery

Nick Ladig, a Northeast Indiana native, is the Vice President of Sales for Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery out of Indianapolis.  Using his B.S. in Entrepreneurial Management from Ball State, he got his start in craft beer and now sells artisan spirits.  He answered some questions about Hotel Tango, its connection to Northeast Indiana, and Fletcher the Cat.  Full disclosure: Nick is the author’s (less cool, but way more interesting) brother.   So, what’s the story behind Hotel Tango? Hotel Tango (military call letters for “H” and “T”) started with Travis (“T”) Barnes, who grew up in Noble County, north of Fort Wayne.  After 9/11, he enlisted in the Marines and served 3 tours as a special forces Recon Marine in Iraq.  Upon returning to civilian life, he met his wife Hillary (“H”), graduated from law school, and started distilling as a hobby.  Fast forward to September 2014, and Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery opened in Indianapolis.  The distillery products are named and branded with a military theme to pay homage to the founder’s military roots.   I hear a tasting room might be opening in Ft. Wayne – confirm or deny? I can neither confirm nor deny.  I will say that our Indy location has been wildly successful and we would love the opportunity to recreate this in new locations.  Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana will always hold a special place in the hearts of Hotel Tango, since that’s where Travis spent his formative years.  BUT, you can find our products now at assorted local restaurants and bars and most of the local liquor stores in and around the area.   Ft. Wayne now has a distillery  – Three Rivers Distillery.  Are you guys competitors or friends? I would definitely say we are and will remain friends in the industry.  The guys from TRD came down to Hotel Tango a while back to meet the founders.  For craft spirits right now, it is very much a “rising tide lifts all ships” mentality.   Why do you think that small batch distilleries are growing in popularity? I think it is because many Americans are trending towards local and authentic products.  I equate it with when you get tomatoes from a neighbor’s garden – they just taste better because they’re as fresh as can be and you know where they came from.   The story is cool, but how’s the product? It’s really [expletive] delicious.  All kidding aside, it has been well received by bars, restaurants, and retailers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.  Our gin has become the top seller, creating the most buzz, but the vodka and ‘cellos are really unique and also selling well.  It seems that once we get someone to try the lineup, they find one they are really excited about.   You’re a Certified Cicerone (one of only 26 in the state and the only on in Northeast Indiana) which is to beer what a sommelier is to wine.  How does tasting beer compare to tasting cocktails and spirits? Thanks for noticing.  I think the main difference is in the layers of flavors.  When tasting beer, it is often much more complex due to the array of ingredients that go into it.  Spirits, on the other hand, are so delicate and precise.  Many are made with...

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The Yummi Bunni Is Hopping Onto Fort Wayne’s Food Scene

Posted by on November 1, 2016 | Comments Off on The Yummi Bunni Is Hopping Onto Fort Wayne’s Food Scene

The Yummi Bunni Is Hopping Onto Fort Wayne’s Food Scene

A few months ago The Yummi Bunni posted its very first Instagram post – a logo with a hashtag #dtfw (downtown Fort Wayne) and started tantalizing us with pictures of delectable doughnuts, colorful ice cream, and reminders to “Follow the Bunni”. Well follow “the Bunni” I did, to get the inside scoop with owner Makenna Click. Makenna and her husband Nate love traveling and eating food, which is how the initial idea came for The Yummi Bunni. Nate is a tattoo artist and owns his own shop and Makenna went to school for interior design. “I always took jobs to pay the bills or get good insurance since Nate had his own business, but I wanted the freedom to be able to do something I was passionate about,” She explains earnestly. “We love Southern California and go at least two times a year. They have so many creative food options with dessert shops every square mile.” It was here while on a traveling excursion last November where they came up with the name and concept by brainstorming with local Southern Californians in the food business. “Imagine a freshly made, chunky, deep-fried doughnut. This is the quintessential all-American doughnut. Slice it in half. Put ice cream, not just any ice cream – the best frickin’ Moose Tracks you’ve had in your life, in between the slices and add your toppings,” Makenna said. This, my friends, is the Yummi Bun, which is the signature dessert served at The Yummi Bunni. Served in a handheld wrapper so you can walk around devouring your ultimate Oreo ice cream served between glazed doughnut halves with Rice Krispies on top. This is truly the ultimate ice cream sandwich. Makenna knew that having an ice cream-based business in the Midwest meant that it had to be absolutely phenomenal to get people to come year-round and the location was key. “I worked at an ice cream place in high school, and I want this place to be known for the quality of its ice cream,” Makenna said. “I wanted that farm to table concept. I also like weird flavors!” Upon undertaking some extensive research, involving many taste tests (it was torture, I’m sure), Makenna found a mom and pop ice cream distributor in Wisconsin that has been family owned and operated since the ’60s and checked all the boxes. They had weird flavors (beet, green tea, lavender, black licorice, and bourbon-infused coffee to name a few of their 100 choices) and their quality was considered “super-premium” in the world of ice cream. This means the ice cream is made in a ratio of one part air to three parts cream and contains at least 14% butter fat. The result is a creamy texture with full-bodied flavors. “I looked at making the ice cream in-house, but I prefer to get the best quality, and I mean, where else makes the best ice cream than the dairy capital of the world?” Makenna said. ” The ingredients are 80% natural. I [took a road trip] to meet the cows and they aren’t just happy, they are very happy. They are grass-fed, have no hormones injected into them… these are happy, quality cows.” The doughnut part of the equation will be sourced by Fort Wayne’s very own Tom’s Donuts, which has been locally owned and operated...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start Fort Wayne opens Atrium

Posted by on October 20, 2016 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start Fort Wayne opens Atrium

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start Fort Wayne opens Atrium

In January 2016 we profiled Start Fort Wayne in a feature piece after they announced the construction of the new Atrium coworking space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other workers. This week the doors finally opened at 111 W. Berry Street in downtown Fort Wayne. Check out our photo gallery below for a look at the space before and during their open house event on Thursday night. This slideshow requires JavaScript. For more information on Atrium, please visit the Start Fort Wayne website at startfortwayne.com/atrium or call the front desk at (260) 969-9393. Related post: Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start Fort Wayne introduces...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: RESPECT360

Posted by on October 7, 2016 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: RESPECT360

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: RESPECT360

I’m not that far away from my teenage years. I remember what it was like. I remember trying to navigate the changing world, sometimes feeling lonely, unsure of myself, and always feeling bombarded with pressure to fit in with my peers. Let’s be honest, once we are out of that phase of our lives, very few of us would jump at the chance to go back. Those years were hard. When I learned about RESPECT360 and the powerful things they are doing to help teens navigate those hard-but-important-years, I thought it was incredible. I think you’ll agree. That’s why today we are speaking with Amy Hanna, co-founder of RESPECT360, a local organization that exists to encourage teens to have a healthy respect for the self and a healthy respect for others. They do this by going into area middle and high schools and educating students on things like healthy self-image, what it means to know who they are, and cultivating healthy relationships. I think the value in their presentations is that they are real with their students. They are open and honest, and (of course) respectful. Students respond to that, and often open up to the presenters in a way they haven’t opened up to anyone else. RESPECT360 also offers Parent Empowerment sessions, teaching parents how to understand different things their teenagers are dealing with, and giving them tools to help them deal with hard things in their teens’ lives. RESPECT360 is an awesome organization doing wonderful things. The impact they are having on the youth in Fort Wayne isn’t something to shrug off. Amy Hanna has spent her life working with youth, but founding and expanding a non-profit organization isn’t any easier than founding and expanding a small, for-profit organization. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? One of the most common complaints that we hear parents and teachers say about teens is that they lack respect. But somehow, the idea of respect seems to have been completely forgotten in today’s entire culture. We at RESPECT360 seek to change the perspective of respect from being something that is set aside to something that is applied.  We do this by first helping students to understand that they are extremely valuable and need to respect themselves and their bodies.  Then we teach them how to respect others, and finally we teach them the importance of being respected by others.  Ultimately our goal is that students will learn that respect has the power to change their lives for the better. Respectful teens make respectful adults, and in turn create a respectful community.  It’s the RESPECT360 way: Respect yourself. Respect others. Respect all.  What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? Because we are a non-profit, we rely upon grants, fundraisers, corporate sponsors, and personal donations.  We could not do what we do without the support of people in the community who believe in what we do and desire to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of area teens. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? As with starting any business, especially a non-profit, there are learning curves. We came into this business with high expectations and a blinded view that it would be easy. We have since learned...

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The Secret Behind Launching a Career in Northeast Indiana

Posted by on October 4, 2016 | Comments Off on The Secret Behind Launching a Career in Northeast Indiana

The Secret Behind Launching a Career in Northeast Indiana

As an upcoming graduate and young professional looking for employment in Fort Wayne, I am amazed by the amount of pressure put on finding a career – not to mention finding one that I like. But these expectations come with no explanation on what sort of skills I need, advice on how to launch my career in this area successfully, or the kind of person that employers look for when hiring, except that they will look at my degree to see if I am qualified for the position. Corporations and all other types of businesses are comprised of all types of people. The people who make up Northeast Indiana, in a broad sense, are hard workers, innovative craftsman with a “don’t quit” mentality. The Northeast Indiana area has a regional population of more than 700,000 people with many diverse industry bases ranging from insurance, logistics, automotive, medical, food processing, and more. It is no wonder businesses in this area are looking to hire young professionals and graduates. With a dozen nearby colleges and universities, there are many young professionals and graduates looking to succeed in their careers in the Northeast Indiana region. But how are they to do that? To find out, I went looking for and spoke with seasoned professionals who gave me the secret on how to launch a career in Northeast Indiana. Justin Clupper, Director of Signature Programs at Greater Fort Wayne, said “The best thing to do is connect with the intent of communication; Begin networking, and building relationships in your specific industry and area.” This was followed by Ashley Calderon, Director of Career Services at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, who said, “89% of Indiana University-Purdue University students stay in this area. We know that employers are looking for candidates who have leadership skills because this is the number one skill employers are looking for at this time. Students need to be able to communicate effectively – in writing and verbally. This community is very well-connected, and students need to be able to navigate the connection in order to succeed in this area.” Ryan Krueckeberg, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, said “I would suggest getting involved by utilizing the Leadership Institute by learning workplace leadership skills and community leadership skills. Meeting people, getting to know people, getting to know your community has been the biggest influencer in my career. Building relationships and fostering those relationships and allowing those relationships to lead you to other people. Making a valid effort to continuously educate yourself, whether it is by getting the degree or educating yourself in your community. There’s so many organizations who can foster interests that you didn’t know you had before.” By learning what it means to be successful in Northeast Indiana when starting a career, I know how to be a better young professional. I can take the relationships I will make by networking with people and the skill sets that I can develop now to any business. Thanks to these seasoned professionals, I finally got the explanation that I was looking for – the secret to launching a career in Northeast...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Stonewares

Posted by on September 7, 2016 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Stonewares

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Stonewares

This entrepreneur spotlight features Laura Brandenburg of Stonewares! Laura makes absolutely amazing earthy, stoneware pottery and jewelry. While she has several stable items, she also does custom orders. I’m in love with her planters. I also have a thing for mugs, and she recently made some of the coolest Indiana  mugs I’ve ever seen! Laura has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics, and to add to her awesome-ness, she recently completed work that she was commissioned to create by internationally renowned interior designer, Kelly Wearstler. The bowls that she created are decorative elements that will outfit the furnished units of Hollywood Proper at Columbia Square—how cool is that?! Here’s what she had to say about doing business in the Fort. What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? In 2004, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Ceramics from IPFW. My dream was always to have a home studio and start to sell my functional and decorative stonewares locally. I saved up and purchased my kiln and my wheel and the studio slowly came together. My work was selling and I decided to take a leap and dedicate more and more of my free time to creating my work and selling it. Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana has been so supportive of my work that I am happy to have this location as my roots. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? The people in the community supporting their local artists and shopping locally has been one of the main reasons that my business has survived and thrived. There are so many resources in our community that have had a big impact on me being able to do what I love. YLNI’s Barr Street Market was where I began regularly selling my work in 2008. I have been a vendor there every year since and attribute the bulk of my business growth to that venue and community. Local juried Art Fairs such as the Covington Art Fair and Art at the Riverside have also helped me to share my work with a broader range of customers desiring fine art. The Downtown Improvement District in its creation of HolidayFest and the Holly Trolley has allowed me to continue my work as coordinator and participant of the “Foxy Ladies Art Posse”; an assembled group of local makers’ Holiday Pop-up Show at Artlink Contemporary Gallery. Artlink has hosted the Foxy Ladies Art Posse Holiday Pop-up show for the past 5 years and has been a solid supporter of local artists. Local entrepreneurs have also been a huge reason my work has been selling by being being available on consignment through these places. Examples of these places are The Firefly Coffee House’s Arts and Crafts section, Creative Women of the World, Opal and Ruby Gift Emporium and The Trove. What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The biggest challenge for me has been to stay motivated to work in the studio. I am a full-time at-home mom to two young daughters and I am dedicated to that being my job. I am a part-time potter. Finding time and motivation to work in the studio and continue with momentum has been a struggle for me. What person...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight – CookSpring

Posted by on July 6, 2016 | Comments Off on Entrepreneurship Spotlight – CookSpring

Entrepreneurship Spotlight – CookSpring

One of our favorite things about the development in Fort Wayne is all the amazing help our city has to offer to entrepreneurs. From places like The City Exchange Shops, to meetings like One Million Cups, the support for individuals with a passion and a dream to cultivate, grow and strengthen their entrepreneurial endeavors is incredibly strong in our city. To add to the list, we spoke with Myles Smith about CookSpring, the Shared Kitchen at The Summit. When The Summit was purchased in 2011, they immediately began looking for ways to use their new 2,400 sq. foot commercial kitchen. They wanted to be intentional about using the space to support the local food community, and after some research, decided to use the space as a shared kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs in Fort Wayne. Entrepreneurs can rent space in the kitchen (it’s open 24/7) through bookings and even (very affordable) monthly memberships. In addition to access to the kitchen, members have the opportunity to participate in classes and other business-related services provided by Northeast ISBDC, and can receive free or discounted space for events at The Summit’s Atrium event area. CookSpring began in 2015 with one member and has now grown to over 20 members, with one member graduating to their own space this summer! You’ll find many of your favorite food trucks are members, and CookSpring is becoming a huge platform for growth. Myles Smith spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what he had to say. Why was Fort Wayne an ideal place for CookSpring? Beginning in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana wasn’t a conscious decision so much as a default instinct – NEI is our home, and we want to see it have all of the neat opportunities that other cities have. Out of our desire to spur on entrepreneurship, we developed CookSpring into a platform where anybody can give their culinary dream a shot. Recently, Northeast Indiana has been making a strong push to recognize our regional food production as a local asset rather than an export. This investment in local products really helps to encourage food entrepreneurs and in turn makes CookSpring a more vibrant community. What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community? We have been able to partner and collaborate with local businesses and groups who are dedicated to impacting entrepreneurs and business growth in Fort Wayne. These groups act as referral sources for new clients and we are able to direct our clients back to them for business services. In addition, the local food culture in Fort Wayne has really taken off in the past few years, which makes this area a great place to open a food business. More people are interested in shopping and eating locally, which has helped our clients grow their businesses. Finally, many organizations have been great supporters of our members and often order catering through CookSpring.  What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? The code reviews were time consuming and certainly a learning experience — they really helped us understand the difficulties that a culinary entrepreneur goes through in starting a business. The health department has been very helpful throughout the lifespan of CookSpring, but the regulations can sometimes be daunting. After we...

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