The Allen County Public Library and The NIIC Partner to Serve Entrepreneurs

Tammy Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC, tallen@niic.net | Stephanny Smith, Community Engagement Manager, ACPL, ssmith@acpl.info

The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) and The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) are combining their expertise and networks to expand support for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs. The goal is to help more Northeast Indiana entrepreneurs make their dreams reality. ACPL gets multiple requests each week from customers who come to our libraries seeking help on how to start a business,” said Greta Southard, Director of the Allen County Public Library. “We can assist them with access to resources and information, and The NIIC can provide business coaching and advice. A formal relationship with The NIIC was a natural way for us to help our patrons in a more comprehensive way.”

As part of this collaboration, The NIIC will establish regular office hours in the Main Library, offering one-on-one business coaching at no charge for patrons needing help or advice on starting or growing a business. “Recently, we launched our Enterprising Communities™ Initiative with a unique partnership with Whitley County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau to make valuable start-up and workspace assistance available to aspiring women entrepreneurs. The partnership with the Allen County Public Library takes a strong, local asset and makes it a hub of entrepreneurship creating another accessible and convenient destination for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC.

Part of this partnership includes ACPL providing assistance to The NIIC businesses and coaches who need data to support their business decisions. ACPL offers extensive databases and information resources. Both organizations will offer education and training to customers through workshops at both ACPL and The NIIC.

“We are excited about this collaboration to expand entrepreneurial services more broadly in Allen county and downtown,” said Mike Fritsch, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, The NIIC. “There are many people who are either thinking about starting a company, want specific advice on helping their existing business get to the next level, or are ready to commit to starting their businesses. The library’s mission to enrich the community through lifelong learning and discovery complements what we do at The NIIC. Together we will work with entrepreneurs during all stages of their business ventures—offering a compelling resource to help all kinds of businesses get serious and more importantly, get going.”

Both entities envision this program quickly spreading across all 14 branches of the ACPL. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for potential entrepreneurs to find the resources they need,” said Fritsch. Southard adds, “This is a perfect complement of both the Library’s and The NIIC’s services, and we look forward to expanding how we serve our customers across the county.”

About Allen County Public Library—Allen County Public Library is enriching the community through lifelong learning and discovery. It has been part of the social and cultural fabric of Fort Wayne, Indiana and surrounding communities since 1895. Then known as the Fort Wayne Public Library, it served residents with 3,606 volumes in a room in City Hall. The library has grown to consist of the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne and 13 branches in the city and outlying communities. Fort Wayne has been cited as the Best Read City in the United States by Places Rated Almanac, due in large part to the library’s collection and patrons’ use of it. For more information visit http://www.acpl.info/.

About The NIICThe NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community. We help business builders and entrepreneurs launch and grow successful business ventures. Formed in 1999 by a consortium of community and government leaders and organizations in 2013, The NIIC was recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the top four under-the-radar incubators in the country. This basically means Entrepreneur magazine, with the help of International Business Incubation Association, picked four U.S. incubators to highlight, and we were one of them. In their words, we “stand out in a state not always perceived as small business friendly.” The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001: 2008 registered business incubation and acceleration program. https://theniic.org/.

About Enterprising Communities™ Initiative—Enterprising Communities is a new strategic resource and collaboration network, powered by the NIIC and WEOC (Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center). It is designed to engage, energize, and empower our community’s entrepreneurial spirit. The NIIC recognizes that new firm formation rates have been declining for decades and are especially hurting in rural America. Enterprising Communities will leverage our entrepreneurial community’s unique assets to create more place-based entrepreneurship opportunities regionally for aspiring entrepreneurs.


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