05.07.20

The NIIC receives $420,000 U.S. SBA Grant to EmPWR Women-Owned Small Businesses through COVID-19 Pandemic

For immediate release 

May 7, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. — Pre COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana was in great fiscal shape. Strong technology, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors led the way. Then, COVID-19 struck. It is no longer business as usual. Small businesses struggle. Projections say upward of 25% to 50% of small businesses are at risk to close within the next year. The SBA is providing relief through a new award opportunity to U.S. Women Business Centers (WBCs) across the United States. Recently, SBA announced an award of $420,000 to the NIIC WEOC (Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center) to expand service offerings for small businesses during COVID-19.

During COVID-19, all WBCs have met weekly with the SBA to discuss and assess small business owners’ needs. Leslee Hill, WEOC Director, stated, “It has been heartbreaking to hear stories from our local business owners and highly affected areas. WBCs are stepping up to help meet needs across the country. Small business ownership is not for the faint of heart. Small business owners’ innate grit and scrappiness will help them persevere. Current business conditions have gotten many of them down but will not keep them down. I am in awe watching the support they give each other and seeing them pivoting to allow the masses to support them through their biggest time of need.”

Congress and the SBA acted swiftly to address small business needs during COVID-19. “We appreciate their leadership to marshal financial resources to enable WBCs to provide a cadre of value-added services and support to our most vulnerable small businesses in Indiana. This grant will allow us to offer targeted reset and reimagination services to meet small businesses where they need us most. Capital access, innovation services, and addressing critical supply chain gaps and dislocations,” said Hill.

Funding enables the launch of a new 12-month program called EmPWR (Equity & Prosperity for Women Reimagining Their Businesses). EmPWR will extend resources to provide education, training, and business advising to small businesses who have experienced supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a decrease in gross receipts, a decline in customers, or a closure as a result of COVID-19. EmPWR services will be available to 83 counties in Indiana. Visit theniic.org/empowr/ for program details.

“What we have seen with the emergence of COVID-19 is Indiana small business challenges fall into two categories: near term and longer-term,” said Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC. He explained as the initial shock of the pandemic wears off, small businesses need to reset. “They need to redefine their new normal and focus on liquidity and cash flow. This will improve their chances of survivability. Longer-term, they need to reimagine how to address major business issues, customer acquisition gaps, logistics issues, new solutions, new methods of working, and reinventing themselves.”

Stacey Poynter, SBA Indiana District Director, said, “Since 1953, the mission of the SBA has been to help small businesses start, grow, expand, and recover. We are honored to fund initiatives through our resource partners like WEOC at The NIIC that will help entrepreneurs get back on track by reimagining and building their businesses for the future.”

The NIIC is recruiting dedicated staff for the EmPWR Program, including a project manager and a community outreach coordinator. These are all part-time positions for the twelve-month duration of the program. These individuals will focus on accessibility, partnerships, and reducing friction for EmPWR participants as they build their businesses. Visit theniic.org/about/careers/ for more information and to apply.

About WEOC

2,354 women and immigrants served, trained, and counseled—since WEOC’s formation five years ago. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) serves Northeast Indiana women at all stages of their business ventures. WEOC responds to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs through business growth coaching, training, and entrepreneurial education, connectivity, and access to capital. WEOC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. As the Host organization, The NIIC also provides supplemental funding and complementary resources. WEOC is an SBA designated Women’s Business Center—one of two in Indiana. For more information, visit www.inweoc.com.

About The NIIC

467 new products launched, 189 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,290 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $91 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster.  It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

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04.14.20

NIIC Provides Virtual Resource for Businesses

Photo by Inside Indiana Business

Click here for video interview and full story.

Tuesday, April 14th 2020, 12:39 PM EDT, Updated: Tuesday, April 14th 2020, 1:32 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE – The chief executive officer of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne says innovation is often times born out of crisis. The NIIC recently launched a virtual resource center designed to support the entrepreneurial community in Indiana during the COVID-19 pandemic. Karl LaPan says there will be a new normal for businesses, particularly small businesses and entrepreneurs, once the crisis passes.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, LaPan said the pandemic has created a “significant amount of trauma” for businesses.

“I think it’s important that we pay attention to emotional well-being and self care for entrepreneurs, that we recognize that there will be a new normal; we’re not going to just go back to the way things were. And there’s also a real need to kind of reimagine the businesses in light of maybe some different ways that we’ll be working in the future.”

“With some of these new programs that have come out on economic injury and payment protection, they barely scratch the surface of the profound need that businesses have,” said LaPan. “A number of studies have shown that, just in the payment protection program, there’s almost a trillion dollar need and there’s only about a third of that amount funded in the stimulus bill. So I think for a lot of companies, the funding to get to a safer landing place is a huge issue.”

LaPan says the current situation creates a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to recharge, reset and retool. He says many companies are looking at businesses that they would never have considered before.

Click here for video interview and full story.

04.12.20

The NIIC Helps Entrepreneurs to Reimagine Business Models

“During these uncertain times, The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne, implements a virtual resource center to help start-ups who are looking to start, grow or innovate. CEO Karl LaPan will talk about a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to reimagine their business models,” Gerry Dick, Inside Indiana Business.

03.31.20

NIIC Navigator® Academy—Virtual, Global Resources and Tools—Available for Small Businesses

The NIIC and The Academy by Breakthrough4Business Partnership Propels Launch

For immediate release 

March 31, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. — Recently, the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) launched a new virtual resource center (https://theniic.org/virtual-resource-center/). It provides access to virtual business building tools and enhanced services to support Indiana’s entrepreneurial community while all combat the spread of COVID-19. Through a partnership with The Academy by Breakthrough4Business, the new NIIC Navigator® Academy portal offers a suite of virtual services for small businesses. This expanded offering of The NIIC provides additional ways to keep learning, linking, and collaborating as early-stage companies pivot, evolve their business models, and restart their businesses.

“Our partnership with Breakthrough4Business reflects our shared vision to level the entrepreneurial playing field and gives access to proven resources and encouragement to business builders. We recognize and celebrate the role small businesses play in restarting and growing our economy—locally and nationally,” said Karl R. LaPan, NIIC President and CEO.

The New NIIC Navigator® Academy builds on the online learning management system available through The NIIC. For the next 12 months, The NIIC is waiving sign-up and membership fees its advance level (valued at $97 per month per person) to any company, organization or micro-entrepreneur in Indiana to support their efforts to reset and reimagine their business and to assist them in activating their business. “The NIIC is a fortunate recipient of a technical assistance grant from U.S. SBA’s Prime Program. One area of focus is to launch and grow accessible resources to support microenterprises directly through The NIIC OPENS Program,” said LaPan.

To join this online community and have the opportunity to connect to a broader network of business builders and scaling organizations globally, visit http://www.niicnavigator.academy/. “As part of our commitment to preparing vulnerable early-stage companies for the new normal, we are pleased to bring important business-building support services—forums, online tools, curated videos, webinars, and a resource library to interested and motivated business builders, existing companies or non-profit organizations in Indiana,” said LaPan.

Steven Dixon, Founder of The Academy by Breakthrough4Business, stated, “In these unprecedented times, the need for action, connections and learning has never been greater. To ease the disruption, confusion, isolation, and loss of momentum that some business builders and entrepreneurs have experienced, we are collaborating with leading entrepreneurial centers to offer a highly dynamic and connected platform to support the global entrepreneurial community.”

The Academy provides a highly curated set of tools and resources to enable entrepreneurial companies and business builders to access:

  • world-class business podcasts;
  • tools to be more productive and profitable;
  • support to enhance and grow an online presence;
  • library access to motivational and inspirational business-building videos; and
  • access to a forum to ask questions and get advice.

About The NIIC OPENS Program

To learn more about the NIIC OPENS program powered by the U.S. SBA, please visit our web page at: https://theniic.org/inclusive-entrepreneurship/opens/.

About The NIIC

467 new products launched, 189 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,290 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $91 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

About B4B (Breakthrough4Business)

Headquartered in Australia, B4B Academy (https://www.b4b.academy/) provides online business coaching, training, education and mentoring services to all stages of a business through an innovative online platform and portal that curates podcasts, books, tools, mentors, coaches and other resources to support and empower a vibrant global entrepreneurial community.

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03.19.20

Ideas@Work Event Rescheduled, Ongoing Events Transitioning to Virtual Format

NIIC Disaster Loan Assistance Webinar

For Immediate Release

March 19, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind.— The NIIC Ideas@Work entrepreneurial event is rescheduled from April 21, 2020, to October 28, 2020.  “The health and safety of our staff, clients, and community are important to us. In collaboration with our partner organizations, we rescheduled Ideas@Work until the fall,” said Karl R. LaPan, president and CEO.

The NIIC has secured a keynote speaker and will announce details soon. “We’re excited to celebrate with the entrepreneurial community, educators, and business leaders at our annual signature event. This year is extra special, as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary at the event,” said LaPan. For more information about Ideas@Work, visit https://theniic.org/ideasatwork/.

Training and workshops offered through The NIIC and Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity (WEOC) are transitioning to virtual delivery. “Earlier this year, we announced our events for this year. The topics are robust and are what our clients and new business builders need as they launch, build, innovate, and grow. We are proceeding as planned, except for how we are providing this information,” said Leslee Hill, WEOC Director. “We are also in the process of providing additional virtual resources to serve our clients and the broader entrepreneurial community. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement about that.” For more information about The NIIC events, visit https://theniic.org/our-events/.

“These are challenging times for our clients and our community. We are here to support our entrepreneurial community. We have transitioned our one-to-one coaching to a virtual model. Our WEOC Mastermind Groups will continue to meet virtually, which has always been an option for them,” said LaPan.

About The NIIC

467 new products launched, 189 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,290 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs have achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $91 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

About WEOC

2,354 women and immigrants served, trained, and counseled—since WEOC’s formation five years ago. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) serves Northeast Indiana women at all stages of their business ventures. WEOC responds to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs through business growth coaching, training, and entrepreneurial education, connectivity and access to capital. WEOC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. As the Host organization, The NIIC also provides supplemental funding and complementary resources. WEOC is an SBA designated Women’s Business Center—one of two in Indiana. For more information, visit www.inweoc.com.

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