Northeast Indiana Innovation Center receives $1M to help minority entrepreneurs

Staff Report, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly


The NIIC (Northeast Indiana Innovation Center) has been selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration as one of 51 designated Community Navigator Pilot Program Hubs. The NIIC will receive a $1 million award over two years to fund the collaborative work with spoke organizations Allen County Public Library, Bankable, Fort Wayne Urban League, Purdue University Extension Community Development, and Region 3a Development and Regional Planning Commission.

“We are honored to lead this important work as the hub, convening our partner spoke organizations to extend the support for women entrepreneurs, minorities, and those located in rural communities,” Ted A. Baker, NIIC interim president and CEO, said. “We appreciate the SBA’s continued support to power innovation and business builders in our region.”

“We began piloting the hub-and-spoke concept about six years ago through some of our programs. We are excited to work with our regional partners to expand this innovative concept.”

The NIIC aligned with five partners/spoke organizations for this program to serve Northeast Indiana entrepreneurs. These organizations will each receive part of the $1 million award to power their work for this program.

A national program with hyperlocal coalition building

This program is an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that small businesses often face in accessing critical support. The program will provide $100 million in funding to 51 organizations that will work with over 400 local groups to connect America’s entrepreneurs to resources across the country.

U.S. SBA Indiana District Director Stacey Poynter said, “As we continue to focus our efforts on placing equity at the heart of SBA programs, we are proud that our partners at The NIIC have been named a Community Navigator Hub. They have proven expertise in identifying and working with under-represented business builders. We look forward to a bright future as they grow and develop relationships with spoke organizations to provide education and training, resources, and a voice to the small businesses of tomorrow.”

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