Vermilion: Free program helps Hoosier small businesses build online presence

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Thursday, August 13, 2020 11:00 am

STATEHOUSE (Aug. 13, 2020) – State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) encourages Hoosier small-business owners and entrepreneurs to apply for a free program that provides direct technical support to help build their online presence.

"It is important for businesses to be accessible online, especially now during the COVID-19 outbreak," Vermilion said. "Many in our community want to buy local, but they need to know what you are selling or services you are providing, and how to get ahold of you. Having a good, working website is key to reaching people, and this program can help you get started."

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. Vermilion 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. 

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

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

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