NIIC’s Breakthrough Program Powers Minority Entreprenuers

Jacquee Eicher, Fort Wayne Ink Spot


Program dedicated to aiding students through the journey to business ownership

The vision of the American Dream has evolved over the years, the latest definition would include entrepreneurship. Indeed, owning a business is seen as a pathway toward fulfilling that dream.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one local entrepreneur, Julie Sanchez, who not only specializes in assisting leaders and executives but also mentoring would-be entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.

As founder and CEO of Fort Wayne-based Expert Business Solutions (EBS) in Fort Wayne, Sanchez’s firm is dedicated to assisting executives and leaders with all aspects of their business from evaluating a company’s efficiency and implementing improved processes to brainstorming new projects. In doing so, a business owner will get a “blinders off” approach to their circumstances, allowing for exponential growth and innovative ways of thinking.

“I’ve always loved working with people,” said Sanchez, who was a redevelopment specialist with the City of Fort Wayne. “Helping people get to the next level and to experience their best selves and their highest quality of life. I’ve always injected that into every job and opportunity I’ve had.”

Sanchez is also the program manager of the Connected Communities Breakthrough Program powered by the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC). She mentors and guides the program’s students through a carefully curated journey to entrepreneurship.

With eight detailed paths and a flexible schedule, the Breakthrough Program’s credo is “You can be an entrepreneur.” The program strives to help participants know that they possess what it takes to be an entrepreneur — regardless of economic standing, age, race, gender or experience. Entrepreneurs will explore all facets of starting a business from constructing a business plan, obtaining financing and developing valuable connections that you need to align their “arsenal” as a business owner.

“Many people in minority communities have never even considered the possibility of entrepreneurship, it just isn’t a part of their paradigm,” Sanchez said. “That is why, at the very beginning of the program, we make sure they hear ‘you can be an entrepreneur’ because that very well could be the first time they’ve ever heard it. And we help those in the program from pre-idea to business launch.

“We want to use our leverage to break those barriers so that these communities have an opportunity to sit at the proverbial table,” she added.

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