State Reps. Sullivan, Bacon: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Jordan Wallace  | Friday, August 14, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 14, 2020) – State Reps. Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville) and Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) 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 want to support their neighbor's business, but they also enjoy the convenience of buying online," Sullivan said. "Building an online presence for small businesses helps reach more customers and can increase a store's credibility."

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. Sullivan 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. 

"We're in a time when consumers find businesses to be more trustworthy if owners have a website or social media page to check out the store's products or customer reviews," Bacon said. "To meet this need, interns can help small businesses build an online presence to reach a broader audience."

Bacon 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 Bacon, 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. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75, 
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville) represents House District 78,
which includes portions of Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.