Governor Eric Holcomb swung by Shoup’s Country Foods, Inc. for lunch and a tour of the local company Thursday afternoon in Frankfort. The hour-long stop at Shoup’s was a continuation of the Governors tour of “Indiana Grown” businesses. Indiana Grown is a statewide branding initiative created by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
“I have been wanting to obviously get out and about,” Holcomb said. “We have been kind of pinned down in the Statehouse for months on end, and I have had on my list to go to an Indiana Grown business. We knew that we were going to make our way up to Lafayette today. Subaru has a groundbreaking. So, this was close. I said, ‘We have to get there.’
“I know the family story and how the business has kind of evolved and been involved with throughout the years, but had never been here in person,” Holcomb added. “So, it was just a perfect pit stop and a delightful lunch.”
Holcomb and several of his staffers were treated to lunch and desert inside Shoup’s conference room before hearing a presentation about the company from co-owner Amy Shoup Mennen. The group then went on a tour of the facilities at Shoup’s Country Foods.
“Oh, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Holcomb said after the lunch and tour. “Like I said, it’s a little bit of heaven on earth. It is so inspiring to meet families that innovate and evolve their way through, of course the good times, but also the tough times, whether it is 2008, 2009 or this last four months – to see how they navigated those shallow waters and adapted. And then when the good times come back in and come back online, then they are stronger than ever. So, it was just kind of an inspirational lunch today. It moves the spirit and soul.”
Mennen said that her family at Shoup’s learned about the Governors wish to visit about a week ago.
“They contacted us and said that they hadn’t been doing a lot of touring because of COVID(-19), but they are just trying to get out and visit some small business, especially Indiana Grown businesses to see how we are doing in all the crisis and chaos that is going on right now,” Mennen said. “We run into him a lot at the Indiana State Fair. He is a really great supporter of Indiana Pork, and we are highly involved with the pork association down at the state fair. We do about 24,000 pork burgers down there, and we do several thousand pounds of pulled pork barbecue. He eats at the pork tent, so he is a little bit familiar with our company, but we were surprised that he would take the time to visit. We are a small company, and he is on his way to Subaru, which is a big employer in the state. So, it is really nice that he would come here and take the time to visit small business too.
“Small business and family business make the world turn in Indiana, and there are a lot of them,” Mennen added. “It is just really wonderful that a dignitary or a public official would take the time out of their busy schedule to come and visit us and see not only our successes but the things that we are struggling with, that we need help with.”
Holcomb’s lunch in Frankfort came a day after he announced a statewide face covering mandate that will go into effect Monday. On Thursday, he said that he plans to “hold at (Phase) 4.5 until the numbers start to tick back down.”
“We are moving in the wrong direction in a couple key categories, and I want small businesses, family businesses or large businesses throughout the state not to have to shut down again,” Holcomb said. “When we started looking at other states and their trends – where they were three or four weeks ago – we were kind of on that flight path. So, we have said that we have got to continue to keep social distancing and, when you can’t, to keep your mask on.
“I will clarify what I said (Wednesday),” Holcomb continued. “Folks have read a little too much into it, I think. But we are going to have to rely on for the foreseeable future the state and the local communities to make sure that we are adhering to those recommendations and those guidelines. So, absolutely, we need to be mindful of our hygiene, wear a mask when you can’t be socially distanced 6 feet or over. And then we will see those numbers start to tick down. You just see in other countries and other states where they have put in these measures, it has had a positive impact. I just don’t want us to get there where we have to go back like other states are doing now. So, it is a key couple of weeks ahead of us. But I think, with the partnership with our local communities and the state making sure everyone has resources, we can not just stay open, but more businesses can stay open and, by the way, our kids can get back to school.”