The NIIC Receives $20K Zollner Grant to Support Diverse Business Builders

Tammy Allen, Director | Marketing & Programs, The NIIC

For immediate release

December 10, 2020, Fort Wayne, Ind. The NIIC recently received an operating grant of $20,000 from The Zollner Foundation. The funds will be used to support the delivery of The NIIC’s educational programs and services to our most vulnerable and historically-excluded members of our entrepreneurial community. By focusing on major barriers facing underestimated entrepreneurs – money, mentors, management, and marketing – The NIIC will help close the gap for these empowered Founders to successfully launch and sustain their ventures.

“We are grateful to The Zollner Foundation for this investment in the next generation of entrepreneurs in our community,” said Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO, The NIIC. “With the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic faced by business builders this year, the timing could not be better. We know this investment in our region’s rising innovators will support their navigation through the crisis. This grant is an inspiring tribute to the legacy of Fred Zollner and the Zollner Corporation. His reputation as an industrialist, an innovator, and a pioneer are aligned with The NIIC’s fundamental passion and purpose of growing the home-town team.”

The Zollner Foundation was created in honor of the great legacy of the family. Fred Zollner was born on January 22, 1901, in Little Falls, Minnesota to Theodore and Margaret Zollner. His father, Theodore Zollner, was an inventor and manufacturer of machinery. Zollner Corporation, formed in 1912, manufactured pistons for companies such as Ford, General Motors, and John Deere. In 1931, the Zollner Corporation was moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Zollner was called “Mr. Pro Basketball” as the founder and longtime owner of the Pistons and a key figure in the merger of the National Basketball League and Basketball Association of America into the NBA. Fred Zollner died on June 21, 1982, at the age of 81, leaving behind a great legacy in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

About The NIIC

499 new products launched, 196 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,351 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 $100.4 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.

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