The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in Fort Wayne has been awarded a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small, woman-owned businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The NIIC says the money is earmarked for its Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center which advises entrepreneurs on launching and growing businesses.
The money from the SBA award will allow WEOC to expand its service.
“It has been heartbreaking to hear stories from our local business owners and highly affected areas,” said Leslee Hill, WEOC Director.
Hill says the funding enables the launch of a new 12-month program called Equity & Prosperity for Women Reimagining Their Businesses.
“This grant will allow us to offer targeted reset and reimagination services to meet small businesses where they need us most. Capital access, innovation services, and addressing critical supply chain gaps and dislocations,” said Hill.
EmPWR will extend resources to provide education and business advising to small businesses who have experienced a list of challenges stemming from COVID-19, including supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, and a decrease in gross receipts.
“What we have seen with the emergence of COVID-19 is Indiana small business challenges fall into two categories: near term and longer-term,” said Karl LaPan, president & chief executive officer, The NIIC.
LaPan says small businesses may need to reset and redefine a new normal.
“Focus on liquidity and cash flow. This will improve their chances of survivability,” said LaPan.
EmPWR services will be available to 83 counties in Indiana.
“Small business ownership is not for the faint of heart. Small business owners’ innate grit and scrappiness will help them persevere,” Hill said.