Elkhart County lawmakers: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Friday, July 31, 2020

STATEHOUSE (July 31, 2020) – Area lawmakers encourage Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a free program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"As a small-business owner, I understand the value an online presence has when building or expanding your company," said State Rep. Christy Stutzman (R-Middlebury). "Utilizing these online tools can help market products and services easier, attract a greater audience and make your business more accessible to customers near and far."

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. State Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford) 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.

"Many of our local small businesses are struggling in the wake of the pandemic," Nisly said. "This free assistance could help entrepreneurs make up lost revenue and pick up some useful, new tools along the way."

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. 

State Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) 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 Miller, 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.

"These interns are equipped with the knowledge and want to use their skills to support Hoosier small businesses looking to boost their online presence," Miller said. "Whether you run a hair salon, bakery, furniture store or anything else, most businesses can benefit from these tools."

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 isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.

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State Rep. Doug Miller (R-Elkhart) represents House District 48, which includes portions of Elkhart County.

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State Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford) represents House District 22, which includes portions of Kosciusko and Elkhart counties.

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State Rep. Christy Stutzman (R-Middlebury) represents House District 49, which includes the eastern portion of Elkhart County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.