Local groups receive grant funds to inspire entrepreneurs

Two area organizations are receiving grant funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to spark innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is announcing $500,000 to 16 organizations around the state through a pilot of its new Community Collaboration Fund. This investment will have a particular focus on underrepresented founders and underserved markets.

The 16 projects were selected based on their abilities to fill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, work across community boundaries, and support non-traditional markets, such as rural, women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce is receiving $40,000 for a new Lean Startup Academy & Pitch project. It will enable 45 entrepreneurs in Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties to participate in intensive programming to start their businesses and leverage their learnings to pitch investors for funding.

The Jackson County Chamber is also receiving $40,000. It will be starting SPARK Jackson County. There will be a series of events and initiatives starting during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November meant to kickstart the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem Those will include a pitch competition and targeted outreach to underserved founders and owners. There will also be a comprehensive assessment of community assets and a development of a first-ever inventory of locally owned businesses.

The Community Collaboration Fund is designed to support the growth of Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by inspiring new programming and new collaborations between entrepreneur support organizations. The IEDC invited entrepreneur support organizations to submit small business-focused services and programming for funding awards between $5,000 and $40,000. The grants require at least a 25 percent match from the local organizations.