Unique Incubator Project Gaining Steam

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(Image courtesy of our partners at WTHI-TV) (Image courtesy of our partners at WTHI-TV)

The head of a business and arts initiative in Vincennes says efforts to transform an abandoned, nearly century-old theater into a business incubator and coworking space are moving forward. INVin Executive Director Ellen Harper says the Pantheon Business Theater project would create "a community of its own" for entrepreneurs that need a starting point. INVin owns the former Pantheon Theatre in the heart of the city's downtown and recently received a federal grant to help pay for a new roof.

Harper tells Inside INdiana Business the incubator would fill a need in the city and county. "There's folks out here that are entrepreneurs that don't really realize that they are, but yet, they need some place to start, to network, to really put their ideas out there and talk to other people to build from that," Harper said. "We feel that that is one thing lacking here, that we can really assist folks from any age group."

She says the center could be an "added economic driver" for Vincennes and Knox County by connecting individuals to expertise already in the community to, over time, create jobs.

Harper has already reached out to local officials and local businesses for support of the incubator. She says discussions have already taken place with around 40 local businesses on mentorship and potential sponsorship opportunities at the center. Harper says she's like to see cooperation with local schools by tapping into a recently-launched CEO program and other academic initiatives to make it "our own unique piece." The nonprofit has taken area leaders on tours of spaces like Launch Fishers and MatchBox in Lafayette to help inform the final vision of the Pantheon Business Theater.

Harper says she expects substantial progress will be made on the theaters transformation next year.

The project would put back to use a prominently-located property that has been vacated for several years and fits into a larger effort to boost the city's downtown. Last year, Harper and local business owner Tony Burkhart discussed downtown revitalization:

INVin Executive Director Ellen Harper tells Inside INdiana Business the incubator would fill a need in the city and county.
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