Business ownership is on the rise. The pandemic’s impact on the traditional workplace led many people to pursue this path. It also challenged some existing business owners to find ways to recover.
Northeast Indiana small businesses are getting a boost through many organizations they may already know. The Community Navigator Pilot Program, launched on Dec. 1, 2021, provides resources and access through a network of support. Technically, it is called a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Think of it as a hub and spoke model, like a bicycle wheel. The hub (center) is The NIIC. The spokes are community partners Allen County Public Library, Bankable, Fort Wayne Urban League, Purdue Extension Allen County and Region 3A. By working together they all expand services to business owners.
How does this help business owners? It provides greater access to resources to help them be successful. Three focus areas include technical assistance, financial resources and one-to-one coaching, training and social networking.
Technical assistance addresses issues with infrastructure and offers easy options for internet access. Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne Urban League, the Purdue Extension and Region 3A fill that need. An example of this is Allen County Public library offering loaner tablets to small business owners to work their business or access training.
Financial resources provide access to capital for those who might have difficulty securing a traditional bank loan. Bankable, Northeast Indiana supports residents to find this type of financial backing.
One-to-one coaching, workshop training and social networking — Oftentimes all it takes for a business owner to take that next step is receiving experienced, expert assistance. In northeast Indiana, that kind of coaching comes through the Purdue Extension, local Chambers of Commerce, Fort Wayne Urban League and entrepreneurial support organizations.