Lehe, Negele: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Josh DeFonce  | Monday, August 17, 2020 10:35 am

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 17, 2020) – State Reps. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) and Sharon Negele (R-Attica) encourage Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a free program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"Hoosiers are staying home and choosing to shop online for products and services more and more, especially during the pandemic," Lehe said. "This new resource provides small businesses the opportunity to increase their online presence to reach the growing number of customers shopping from home."

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. Lehe 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. 

"As a small-business owner, I know how much an online presence can help your business reach more customers and increase sales," Negele said. "Hoosiers are remaining cautious and continuing social distancing during this pandemic, and they may need another way to connect with local businesses. This free resource provides that opportunity."

Negele 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 Negele, 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 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. Don Lehe (R-Brookston) represents House District 25, which
includes portions of Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Tippecanoe and White counties.
Click 
here for a high-resolution photo. 


State Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) represents House District 13,
which includes all of Benton County, and portions of Fountain, Jasper,
Montgomery, Newton, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties. 
Click 
here for a high-resolution photo.