Grant County lawmakers: No-cost program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Andi TenBarge  | Thursday, August 6, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 6, 2020) – Grant County lawmakers encourage Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"In this day and age, connecting online with customers is an extremely valuable tool in building and sustaining a business," said State Rep. Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo). "As consumers adjust their buying habits in light of the health pandemic, having an online presence has become even more of a necessity than ever before."

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. Karickhoff 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.

"The internet has proven to be an effective tool in helping entrepreneurs take the next step to grow their business," said State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero). "Any Hoosier looking to expand their customer base should consider this free opportunity."

Cook said 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. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) said Kelley School of Business students and recent graduates are able to 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. 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.

"This is a great opportunity for students," Vermilion said. "While these interns are helping Hoosier businesses around the state, they are also gaining valuable career experience and fine tuning their skills."

Through the Indiana Economic Development Corp., 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. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32,

which includes all of Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.

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State Rep. Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo) represents House District 30,
which includes portions of Grant and Howard counties. 

Click here to download a high-resolution photo. 

State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) represents House District 31,

which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.