Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Program Lands More Funding

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The program has provided more than 1,600 hours of training and coaching to over 150 participants. The program has provided more than 1,600 hours of training and coaching to over 150 participants.

An Indy Chamber program designed to help ex-offenders start businesses has landed Small Business Administration funding for a second year of operation. The Business Ownership Initiative's Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative provides a six-week workshop and on-on-one business coaching.

The chamber says economic opportunities are limited for the nearly 14,000 Indianapolis metro residents who have a prior criminal conviction with incarceration. Organizers say the REDi program  offers entrepreneurship and self-employment as an additional option.

The program launched in October 2016 and has provided more than 1,600 hours of training and coaching to over 150 participants. In its first year, REDi worked with partners including the Indiana Department of Correction, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the city of Indianapolis, RecycleForce and Ivy Tech Community College. Workshops include Entrepreneurship 101, Business Accounting and Financial Planning.

"We're encouraged that a handful of our clients have already taken the leap into entrepreneurship in the first year of REDi, and we hope they’ll become success stories that encourage others to follow suit,” says Indy Chamber Vice President of Entrepreneur Services Carrie Henderson. "But even if starting their own company isn’t their calling, it’s worth noting that one of every three Indianapolis businesses is less than five years old, and two-thirds have less than ten employees – REDi 'graduates' will have valuable knowledge that can help up-and-coming companies grow, too."

The program received a $150,000 Prime Grant from the SBA and recently landed a $32,500 from the Indianapolis Foundation Crime Prevention Fund.

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