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Fifth Third Foundation makes major contribution to Accelerate Indy economic development strategy, supporting business coaching and microlending initiatives.

On January 18, The Fifth Third Bank President of the Greater Indiana Region Kevin Hipskind announced a $100,000 grant from the Fifth Third Foundation to the Indy Chamber’s Accelerate Indy regional economic development strategy, directed to its Entrepreneur Services division. The announcement was made at the John H. Boner Community Center, one of several locations across the 9-county Indianapolis region where the Chamber offers one-on-one business coaching, entrepreneurship classes and workshops.

”We are committed to strengthening our communities,” said Hipskind.  “I can’t think of a better way to invest in the future of Indianapolis than to create more opportunities for our small businesses. This investment is a part of our ten year $30 billion commitment to the communities we serve across our footprint.”

The Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services division, anchored by the Business Ownership Initiative (BOI), accounts for more than 8,900 hours of free small business coaching and educational workshops each year. The division also accounts for more than $440,000 in annual microlending via its direct microloan program, supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration along with corporate and non-profit investors. The Indy Chamber’s Accelerate Indy plan identifies access to capital for small business as an economic priority on par with corporate recruitment efforts.

“Roughly 80% of our region’s new jobs are created by existing employers, so programs to support homegrown firms are more important than ever,” said Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber. “Our efforts in education and programming for small businesses pay off in more successful start-ups and local companies growing, investing and hiring at a faster pace.  We’re excited that Fifth Third recognizes this return-on-investment and has committed to support the outstanding work of our Entrepreneur Services team.”

Fifth Third’s investment adds to the fast paced progress of the Indy Chamber’s Accelerate Indy strategy, an ambitious regional effort at “rethinking economic development” through plans to recruit talent and business, encourage entrepreneurship and global trade, and appeal to high-tech employers with a skilled workforce and innovation-friendly climate.

Huber added that the site of today’s announcement reflects Accelerate Indy’s aims of encouraging faster, longer-term, and more inclusive economic growth.

“Building a sustainably stronger regional economy means expanding opportunity county by county, community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood,” he explained.  “The work of the Boner Center on the Near East Side shows how economic development takes a team effort by corporate, civic and philanthropic partners working with grassroots leaders – adding Fifth Third to the team will help this area go further, faster.”

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