With the aid of a $ 1 million federal grant, the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center has added five more business advisors aimed at bolstering financial and business development help to under-served business owners and start-up companies.
The grant, announced in November, is from the US Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program.
The federal SBA “realized with the [Paycheck Protection Program] and with the [Economic Injury Disaster Loan] program, looking at their applications and the number of people receiving funds, there were great disparities in certain communities, ”said Courtney Richey-Chipol, regional director of WCISBDC, housed at Indiana State University’s Scott College of Business.
The disparities include rural-owned, LGBTQ + -owned, veteran-owned, Black-owned and even COVID-19 impacted businesses.
The West Central ISBDC on Wednesday staged its official kickoff of its Intentional Outreach Network program with a ribbon-cutting at ISU to target the specific under-served businesses. That agency was among 751 applicants for SBA grant funding, which was awarded to 51 programs nationwide, with only two grants awarded in Indiana.
The ION program includes outreach services from existing agencies in the community, such as the Pride Center of Terre Haute “because they already have a connection within the LGBTQ + community, and another example is the Wabash Valley Base Community Council because they have a connection within the veteran community which makes it easier for us to let people know that resources are available, ”Richey-Chipol said.
“So the $ 1 million is invested in people and we were able to hire five business advisors so now we have seven total,” she said.
Those advisors help small businesses or start-up businesses with formulating a business plan, budget, as well as help partnering with banks, marketing or government contracts and exporting, Richey-Chipol said.
John Null is the new veteran-owned business advisor. He is a retired Air Force officer with 30 years of enlisted and commissioned service and is a co-founder of the Afterburner Brewing Company in Terre Haute.
“The purpose for ION is intentional outreach. Being in the veteran community, I will meet someone who wants to talk about opening a business, ”Null said. “I actually had a veteran who wants to start a small brewery in Sullivan, so we started communicating,” Null said.
“This veteran is probably a year out and is just in the initial planning stages. When he is ready to take the next step, we will sit down and talk and help him to develop how he will structure his business, then how we can fund it and help build a business plan, ”Null said.
Null said his goal in his first year is to meet at least 20 veterans who own or want to start a small business plus help two to four new businesses start up.
“A lot of time in discussions, people are just trying to get information so it takes a while, while other people are ready to go and start a new business,” he said. “I think the environment is really good for people to start a small business. People have so many ideas .. .so it is really interesting and eye-opening and honestly I learn things that can relate to our business, ”he said of Afterburner Brewing Company.
“If people don’t learn about these state and federal programs, they are worthless, so it is our goal to get to learn and know about these programs” through the West Central ISBDC, Null said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @ TribStarHoward.