WEOC Receives $135,000 Funding Commitment from U.S. SBA

Tammy Y. Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC

October 31, 2017, Fort Wayne, Ind. – October is National Women’s Small Business Month, a fitting time for the Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to receive renewed funding for 2017-2018 Women’s Business Center from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA). WEOC serves as one of two U.S. SBA designated women’s business centers in Indiana.

U.S. SBA Indiana District Director Stacey Poynter said, “We are incredibly thankful for the partnership we have with the Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center. They are part of the web of resources that we have in the Northeast area of the state, which offers one-on-one counseling services and mentorship for women who are small business owners. They have been very successful guiding women toward success and growing our economy.”

“We are honored to work with the U.S. SBA and local network resource partners to serve the aspiring women entrepreneurs and women business owners in our geographic coverage area. There is a common thread among them. They are disruptors, passionate, determined to improve the status quo,” said Tania D. Vanderlaan, Interim WEOC Director.

“With a financial investment match from the NIIC through its Ideas @ Work annual, signature event, total program funding for WEOC exceeds $271,000. We are serious about leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs and delivering best-in-class resources to elevate their efforts and success. As one of two U.S. SBA designated women’s business centers in Indiana, WEOC is an important asset to catalyzing the startup slump and inspiring higher levels of entrepreneurial business formation in our community,” stated Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC.

Serving women at all stages of business ventures is WEOC’s purpose. It is serving women like female founder Melissa Hall of S3 (Simple Sample Solutions). She formed the company to use technology to disrupt the interior design process, to improve and streamline it. Nicole Hayden, founder of Creative Cat Marketing, who formed her own marketing company to structure the company her own way. She also developed a business model to serve the Fort Wayne art community to promote their works of art. Elevare co-founders, Ashley Spurr and Lisa Harris, who started the company to empower small businesses everywhere to succeed in federal business contracting. Alice Martin-Page, who is developing Stay-Cation, to be a premier skilled respite care venture to serve the community.

For the past two years, The NIIC has invested $170,000 into WEOC in funding plus supplemental and complementary resources. Since WEOC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. SBA, its fiscal year concluded September 29, 2017. During the past two years, WEOC has trained and counseled 1,400 individuals through business coaching and connected women entrepreneurs to $629,500 in funding. “We’ve made great progress serving women this past year and continue to learn and improve our offerings. We are grateful to our WEOC Advisory Council, who provides input and connectivity to help accomplish so much. We also appreciate working with resource partners like Brightpoint, Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne SCORE, and Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC),” said Vanderlaan.

“Looking to the coming year, we are repositioning to further our overall impact. We’ve learned so much since WEOC was formed two years ago. We’re refocusing our service area on Northeast Indiana and the I-69 Corridor. We’re also changing the organizational structure to include a part-time position to support the WEOC Director. Women entrepreneurs can continue to expect one-on-one coaching, connectivity to funding, training, and networking we offer,” said Vanderlaan.

About WEOC

The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) serves as a resource center and business growth accelerator for women and underserved entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana. In October 2017, the name changed to Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to more accurately reflect what WEOC does. WEOC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Host organization The NIIC also provides funding and supplemental and complementary resources for WEOC, an SBA designated Women’s Business Center—one of two in Indiana. WEOC serves 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. For more information, visit www.inweoc.com.

About The NIIC

The 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. For more information visit TheNIIC.Org .


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