DeVon, Wesco: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Tuesday, August 4, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 4, 2020) – State Reps. Dale DeVon (R-Granger) and Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) encourage Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a free program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"Some businesses are missing out on the wealth of opportunities and growth they can experience by establishing an online presence," DeVon said. "When you give your company a voice and promote your goods or services online, you can not only improve sales, but also connect directly with customers and build new relationships. I encourage local employers to check out this resource, especially if they're struggling."

The Indiana Small Business Development Center launched Project HOPE and recently partnered with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to support long-term economic recovery of Hoosier small businesses and entrepreneurs. DeVon said through the program, eligible companies may apply for no-cost assistance to help establish or increase their online presence through website development, e-commerce support, and other digital tools and services.

To be eligible, Indiana small businesses must meet the following criteria:   

  • Be an Indiana SBDC client;
  • Have been in business as of Feb. 15, 2020; and
  • Be able to demonstrate a negative impact from COVID-19. 

Wesco said Kelley School of Business students and recent graduates can receive paid internships through this program to assist Hoosier companies with creating or modifying websites, building e-commerce platforms, improving cybersecurity frameworks, migrating data and more. Interns are overseen by faculty members, and projects are completed within two weeks. According to Wesco, more than 75 student interns have participated in the program and are providing more than 8,000 hours of support to 97 small businesses in 28 counties.

"E-commerce is growing and more Hoosiers are looking to do their shopping online as we work through this pandemic," Wesco said. "Interns are ready and want to help local entrepreneurs and business owners get started today, so I hope more people take advantage of this free resource."

Through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indiana SBDC approved $150,000 in federal funding provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration through the CARES Act to support the statewide launch of Project HOPE. To learn more about COVID-19 resources and no-cost counseling available to Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit


State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger) represents House District 5, which includes portions of St. Joseph County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo. 

State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) represents House District 21, which includes portions of Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.