The NIIC is one of 51 Community Navigator Pilot Program Hubs.

The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne says it has been selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration as one of 51 designated Community Navigator Pilot Program Hubs. The federal program is designed to reduce barriers faced by small businesses in northeast Indiana.

Some of the barriers include access to critical support such as business development, financial support and marketing. The NIIC says it will receive a $1 million award over two years to fund the collaborative work with spoke organizations.

“We are honored to lead this important work as the hub, convening our partner spoke organizations to extend the support for women entrepreneurs, minorities, and those located in rural communities,” said Ted Baker, NIIC interim president and chief executive officer.

The navigator program is an American Rescue Plan initiative, which will provide $100 million in funding to 51 organizations that will work with over 400 local groups to connect America’s entrepreneurs to resources across the country.

One such organization is the Allen County Public Library that says its mission is to enrich the community through lifelong learning.

“This extends to utilizing the library’s resources to assist rural entrepreneurs and small business owners to overcome the challenges they face,” said Allen County Public Library Executive Director Susan Baier. “The library has assets and staff expertise at its disposal, which could make an impact in helping rural entrepreneurs make connections and build technology skill proficiencies.”

The program officially launches next month.