The city of South Bend has launched a program to help small, locally owned businesses grow by taking part in a three-month training program. The city’s Department of Community Investment is accepting applications for the Scaling Up! South Bend program.
The city says it wants to help small businesses strengthen their business models.
“Whether it’s hot sauce, whether it’s t-shirts or any other product, we recognize that a lot of people have these types of businesses,” said Santiago Garces, executive director of the Department of Community Investment. “They’ve been selling on Etsy and they’ve been selling on other platforms. But we really want to be able to provide resources for them to help connect to efforts that we have.”
The city says the program is not for startups. It is seeking small businesses already creating a product.
South Bend is partnering with Chicago-based 37 Oaks University, a commerce consulting firm that prepares local businesses for diversified growth through e-commerce, wholesale or traditional storefront sales.
The city says it has signed a $35,000 contract with 37 Oakes to oversee the program and provide expertise to the 15 entrepreneurs selected for the initial cohort.
“We’ll be pairing people with access to space, access to technical resources to help with education, how to establish your supply chains and how you can grow your business,” said Garces.
Garces says businesses that complete the three month cohort will also become eligible for subsidized commercial space at Sibley Center, a multi-tenant makerspace, through the end of 2021.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller says he is excited the city can talk not only in terms of economic survival amid the pandemic but looking forward to the future and getting back into growth.
“This doesn’t mean that our work on surviving the economic headwinds is over, but it means that we are now shifting to doing both and making sure that we have a supportive environment here in the city of South Bend, to make sure that we have growing businesses, and we have growing opportunities for everyone to thrive,” Mueller said.
Applications will be accepted until March 12. Click here to learn more about the program.
Department of Community Investment Executive Director Santiago Garces explained how the program will support small businesses.