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Oct 17, 2023

Indiana Awards Community Grants to Accelerate Statewide Entrepreneurship Resources, Support

New Community Collaboration Fund awards $500K in grants to spur entrepreneurial activity, startup growth, small business success in traditionally underserved markets 

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 13, 2023) – Today, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced $500,000 in grant awards to accelerate entrepreneurial activity and resources statewide through a pilot of its new Community Collaboration Fund (CCF). This investment will help power 16 community-led projects focused on entrepreneurial education, connection and acceleration across Indiana, with a particular focus on underrepresented founders and underserved markets.  

“Indiana has been recognized as the best state in the U.S. to start a business, and we’re leaning in even further to ensure that all Hoosiers have equal access and opportunity in their entrepreneurial journey,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg. “The Community Collaboration Fund is yet another resource that community-focused entrepreneur organizations across the state can leverage to provide direct support to aspiring entrepreneurs, startups and growing small businesses and to help ensure the continued success of Hoosier innovators statewide.” 

This is the first round of grants awarded through CCF, which is designed to support the growth of Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by inspiring new programming and new collaborations between entrepreneur support organizations. The IEDC launched an initial pilot program of CCF this summer, inviting entrepreneur support organizations to submit small business-focused services and programming for funding awards between $5,000-40,000 (requiring at least a 25% match from the project).  

From the submissions, 16 projects were selected based on their abilities to fill gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, work across community boundaries, and support non-traditional markets, such as rural, women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs. These 16 projects will increase resources and direct support for entrepreneurs across Indiana through a variety of programming, such as startup accelerators and pitch competitions, one-on-one coaching and group education, mentorship and entrepreneurial ecosystem navigation, and student entrepreneurial education.  

“The ability to leverage the Community Collaboration Fund, along with the investment of our community partner organizations, will greatly accelerate our work to support and empower local entrepreneurs and big thinkers,” said Dan Robison, director of the Jackson County Chamber. “The launch of this program by the IEDC demonstrates the state’s commitment to connect and support all current and aspiring entrepreneurs as well as our local ecosystems throughout Indiana.”   

The 16 entrepreneurial programs awarded funding are:  


  • Veteran Pitch Competition | Purdue University Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center ($40,000 award) 
    The Purdue University Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center in Lake County will launch a Midwest veteran pitch competition, providing a platform for veteran-owned startups to pitch their business ideas for funding.  
  • Start and Exit Pitch Competition | Start Fort Wayne ($40,000 award) 
    Start Fort Wayne will host a Start and Exit Pitch Competition for underserved entrepreneurs across Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Elkhart, Fulton, Grant, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Miami, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, Wabash and Whitley counties. The competition will help those on their entrepreneurial journey identify, educate, scale and accelerate their ideas.  
  • KESO Collab Entrepreneur Navigator Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation ($32,400 award) 
    The Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation will launch the KESO (Kosciusko Economic Support Organization) Collab Entrepreneur Navigator to kickstart its community’s eager and emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem. The navigator will align local entrepreneuriaL support organizations, identify gaps in its services, offer entrepreneur meet-ups, and provide mentorship for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Kosciusko County.  
  • Capital Coaching in North Central Indiana | CDFI Friendly South Bend ($40,000 award)  
    CDFI Friendly South Bend will work with the North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center to create one-on-one capital coaching and training to help underserved businesses access capital. With support from CCF, capital coaching will be available to entrepreneurs in St. Joseph, Marshall and Elkhart counties.  
  • Fueling Women Entrepreneurship Workshop Series | Momentum Entrepreneurship Hub ($10,000 award) 
    Momentum Entrepreneurship Hub will host a new workshop series – Fueling Women Entrepreneurship – to support women founders in Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties to provide community connection and training.  


  • Improving Storytelling in Rural Indiana | Launch Fishers ($28,000 award) 
    Launch Fishers and the Innovation Connector, which assists founders in Blackford, Boone, Delaware, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Henry, Jay, Madison, Marion and Randolph counties, will launch new media studios available at no cost to help entrepreneurs share their story throughout rural Indiana.  
  • INax: ESO Acceleration Support MatchBOX Coworking Studio ($39,833 award) 
    MatchBOX Coworking Studio’s INax: ESO (Entrepreneur Support Organization) Acceleration Support will work with Maven Space, The Pantheon and Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, to offer resources and assistance to entrepreneurs in Howard, Knox, Marion and Tippecanoe counties. With support from CCF, MatchBOX will deliver its first-ever entrepreneur accelerator and train-the-trainers program for the partner coworking spaces.  
  • Two Degrees Startup Accelerator | Startup Sprint ($30,000 award) 
    Startup Sprint will launch a new program – Two Degrees – to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in Marion County. Two Degrees will offer two cohort-based programs for founders and businesses in the ideation phase to help jumpstart their entrepreneurial journey and get plugged into the local ecosystem.  
  • Wabash Valley Lemonade Day | Chances and Services for Youth ($10,000 award) 
    Chances and Services for Youth’s Wabash Valley Lemonade Day will serve local elementary school students in Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties. Roughly 100 students participating in Lemonade Day will also complete a business training course, meet with a local lender for a business ‘loan,’ and operate their small business, preparing Hoosier students for future small business endeavors.  


  • Lean Startup Academy & Pitch | Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce ($40,000 award) 
    The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce will initiate a new project – Lean Startup Academy & Pitch – enabling 45 entrepreneurs in Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties to participate in intensive programming to start their businesses and leverage their learnings to pitch investors for funding.  
  • Georgetown Business Roundtables | Destination Georgetown ($5,500 award) 
    Destination Georgetown will lead a series of five business roundtables for current and prospective small businesses in Floyd and Harrison counties, providing new opportunities to learn about key business areas, including finance, human resources, marketing and more. 
  • SPARK Jackson County | Jackson County Chamber ($40,000 award) 
    The Jackson County Chamber will launch SPARK Jackson County, kickstarting the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through a series of events and initiatives starting during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. The project will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses, including a pitch competition and targeted outreach to underserved founders and owners, as well as the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole by initiating a comprehensive assessment of community assets and developing a first-ever inventory of locally owned businesses. 
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Southeast Indiana | Maker13 & The Maker Mobile Inc. ($40,000 award) 
    Maker13 & The Maker Mobile Inc. will support the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the broader community in Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott and Washington counties during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. With funds from CCF, GEW Southeast Indiana will initiate main street small business celebrations, high school student projects, a pitch competition and student-entrepreneurship fireside chats in conjunction with Indiana University Southeast.  
  • D.I.C.E. Challenge | Ripley County Community Foundation ($40,000 award) 
    The Ripley County Community Foundation created the D.I.C.E. (Dreams, Ingenuity, Creativity, Entrepreneurship) Challenge to inspire young people to learn about entrepreneurship and see small business creation and ownership as a viable career goal. CCF will help the organization provide high school students in Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties with an entrepreneurial training program and regional pitch competition in preparation for the Innovate WithIN pitch competition.  
  • Defense Innovation Rural Roadshow in Indiana Uplands | Defense Innovation Networking Group ($40,000 award) 
    The Defense Innovation Networking Group (D!NG) will bring its Defense Innovation Rural Roadshow to the Indiana Uplands region, sharing opportunities, practical insights and best practices to help local businesses enter the defense ecosystem.  
  • Uplands Accelerator Dimension Mill ($39,163 award) 
    Dimension Mill (The Mill) will expand a scalable business accelerator program for rural businesses located in the Indiana Uplands region. The program, Uplands Accelerator, offers services and support to entrepreneurs across Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.  

In order to be eligible for funding, CCF projects must be a new initiative or an expansion of existing services; a collaboration between two or more support organizations, provide direct entrepreneur support; focus on entrepreneur education, connection or acceleration; provide at least a 25% funding match; have developed metrics and budgets; and be completed within nine months of funds being awarded.  

CCF is one of many new entrepreneurship-focused initiatives the state has rolled out in recent months in an effort to further grow Indiana’s entrepreneurial activity and support the growth and success of startups and small businesses. Last year, the IEDC launched Entrepreneurship Indiana, an annual publication celebrating the entrepreneurial journey; this year, it expanded its staff and support programming through the Indiana Small Business Development Center; and in June, the organization launched ConnectIND, a digital portal available in 11 languages that is designed to increase support for entrepreneurs and founders.  

About IEDC
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit