As a Hoosier entrepreneur, it has been my dream to empower fellow innovators by advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Indiana. In 2012, that dream became a reality as we opened the doors to Launch Fishers. Now, more than 50 collaborative and creative centers are helping pave the way for an innovation-driven economy.

I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish at Launch Fishers. As we grew, so did Indiana’s economy. Today, Hoosier small businesses employ 2.1 million Hoosiers and our state has quickly become known as a top destination for tech grads and women in tech. Thanks to Indiana’s innovators, like those setting up shop at Launch Fishers and other locations on the Indiana Coworking Passport, the tech industry is adding jobs at a rate of 18 percent – three times faster than the national average.

Thought leaders, start-up and scale-up companies like Emplify, CloudOne, SteadyServ, Agency360 and Recovery Force are growing and adding jobs in Fishers because our community has created an entrepreneurial environment that provides the tools needed to succeed. But, we are just one piece to the puzzle that has fueled this economic momentum. It truly takes a village. A village that is comprised of state and local leaders, universities, research centers, private companies, educators and business mentors.

And that’s why I was excited when Governor Mike Pence announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to propel innovation and entrepreneurship in Indiana by aligning efforts statewide and enhancing strategic partnerships to ensure that Indiana plays a leading role in solving 21stcentury challenges.

It’s about supporting our innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Indiana’s tech community has been the hotbed of our entrepreneurial activity over the last decade, and we’ve seen that entrepreneurial activity bear fruit, yielding more than $6.5 billion dollars in acquisitions and IPO’s. Those successes endowed our state with a much expanded talent and capital pool to build upon. Now we must double-down so that we can unleash that talent and capital on the next high-potential start-ups and scale-ups,” said Mike Langellier, president and chief executive officer of TechPoint.

It’s about building on this momentum.

“Indiana is where tech companies thrive. The tech ecosystem is strong. Talent second to none. Governor Pence and the IEDC see that Hoosiers are inventing and creating, and that this growth needs the right fuel at the right time. This program serves as an accelerant, fueling the innovation and growth of Hoosier tech firms,” said JJ Thompson, founder and chief executive officer of Rook Security.

It’s about ensuring idea generators have the funds necessary to turn a dream into reality.

“Indiana technology entrepreneurs are in critical need of early-stage seed capital to commercialize innovative ideas into thriving, high-growth businesses. Governor Pence’s growth plan is working, and I’m thrilled to see this expanded commitment to matching funds and workforce development, including support for the transferability of the VCI tax credit to attract more out of state investment,” said Bill Godfrey, managing director of 4G Ventures.

And, it’s about keeping innovators and job creators in Indiana.

“In Indiana, we’re within a day’s reach of 80 percent of the agricultural, manufacturing, life sciences and transportation companies that are the first to be transformed by the Internet of Things. These same industries are core to the Indiana economy, and so this investment catapults our state into a global leadership position as the hub for entrepreneurial IoT. We were already the state’s fastest-growing IT services company over the last two years, and will clearly remain so – and firmly planted in Indiana – because of this plan,” said John McDonald, chief executive officer of CloudOne.

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Indiana. It’s up to each of us to continue that momentum. As a team, we are stronger when unified, and I look forward to witnessing many years of success in crafting a thriving Hoosier entrepreneurial ecosystem.

John Wechsler is founder and chief executive officer of Launch Fishers.

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