Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services division expands business coaching & microlending in 2017 for local business success, inclusive economic growth

Chamber reports more coaching and lending for small and start-up firms; helping ex-offenders and improving access in urban neighborhoods and suburban communities.

The Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services division today reported on its successes supporting local business growth in 2017, and its ongoing efforts to expand entrepreneurial opportunities to people and communities across the Indianapolis region.

Entrepreneur Services includes the Business Ownership Initiative (BOI), offering one-on-one coaching and microlending as a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending partner, the Hispanic Business Council, the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center, and until 2018, housed the Central Indiana Small Business Development Corporation (ISBDC) and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

Their collaborative efforts led to roughly 10,000 hours of coaching and classes focused on small and start-up business issues and $23.7M in growth capital leveraged for Indy employers last year.

“In 2017, our economic development efforts were firing on all cylinders,” noted Indy Chamber President & CEO Michael Huber.  “The Indy Partnership’s business attraction efforts far outpaced 2016, and Entrepreneur Services expanded its support for homegrown companies and start-ups – the source of 80% of our new job creation, and our best opportunities for a more inclusive economy.”

Entrepreneur Services continued to add ‘satellite’ locations for business coaching and microloan access in 2017, growing into Hendricks County (at Ivy Tech’s Avon campus) along with existing engagements with OneZone (Hamilton County) and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.  In Marion County, partnerships with the John H. Boner Community Center, Martindale Brightwood Community Center, Southeast Community Services, and Source River West enhanced access to entrepreneurial resources in the central city of Indianapolis.

“Our goal is to extend our reach, geographically but also to people in our city who face tougher hurdles to economic mobility and entrepreneurial opportunity,” said Carrie Henderson, the Indy Chamber’s Senior Director of Entrepreneur Services and President of BOI.

This effort towards inclusive entrepreneurship led to BOI’s creation of the Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDi) in late 2016, to provide business classes and coaching to currently- and formerly-incarcerated Hoosiers, equipping them with the skills to start or help grow a small business in Indianapolis.

BOI provided more than 1,600 hours of training and coaching to more than 150 REDi participants in 2017; the program earned a second year of Prime Grant funding from the SBA and a $32,500 Indianapolis Foundation Community Crime Prevention Grant for its promising start towards reducing recidivism and overall crime rates.

While REDi targets a uniquely-challenged community, the Indy Chamber also emphasized community-building among existing and aspiring entrepreneurs as a founding partner for 1 Million Cups, the Indianapolis affiliate of a national program that uses weekly networking and ‘pitch’ opportunities at the Speak Easy to help business owners practice and refine their value proposition to investors and customers in front of a supportive group.

The Chamber also launched the Indy Resource Navigator in Spring 2017. The Resource Navigator is an easily-searchable web directory organizing Indy’s ‘free or low-cost business resources, the first phase of a planned comprehensive, convenient ‘one-stop’ portal for business services and entrepreneurial initiatives.

“In 2017, we proved our willingness to meet employers and entrepreneurs wherever they may be – from the suburbs to the urban core, in-person or online, in correctional facilities and co-working spaces,” said Henderson.

Overall results for the Entrepreneur Services division include:

  • Approximately 4,600 hours of free, one-on-one business coaching, with another 5,100+ hours of workshops and classes aimed at small business issues and entrepreneurial education;
  • $445,000 in microloans via BOI’s direct lending program, backed by the SBA along with state, corporate and non-profit investors (up more than 55% over 2016);
  • Another $23M in capital support, from providing loan preparation and other technical assistance, connecting employers with other investors and early-stage funding resources;
  • Served 1,862 employers and entrepreneurs with coaching (roughly 700 more than 2016) and directly supported 118 new business starts (40 more than ’16).

The first month of 2018 has seen these strong results reinforced with a $100,000 grant from the Fifth Third Foundation.  The grant targets Entrepreneur Services as part of a growing list of investors supporting the Indy Chamber’s Accelerate Indy economic development strategy, exceeding expectations for corporate support.

“2017 was a stellar year for Entrepreneur Services, and the confidence of partners like Fifth Third is well-earned,” finished Huber.  “And the continued expansion of our coaching, microlending and other resources matches growing demand across our region – a great sign of our entrepreneurial momentum.”


Media Contacts:

Joe Pellman, Indy Chamber, 317.464.2251, [email protected]

Chris Watts, 317.514.3184, [email protected]

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