Lauer: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Wednesday, August 12, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 12, 2020) – State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus) encourages Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a free program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"This program is another great resource for local business owners to utilize during the ongoing public health emergency," Lauer said. "With many people looking to social distance and avoid crowds, having an online presence and functional website is as important as ever. There are several entrepreneurs in Bartholomew County who would likely benefit from this free help."

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. Lauer 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. 

Lauer 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. According to Lauer, 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.

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 isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.

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State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus) represents House District 59,

which includes portions of Bartholomew County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.