Group outlines efforts to increase statewide entrepreneurship

Huntingburg’s efforts to support entrepreneurship have placed it in the midst of a push to bring entrepreneurship initiatives to communities across the state.

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

Huntingburg’s efforts to support entrepreneurship have placed it in the midst of a push to bring entrepreneurship initiatives to communities across the state.

As such, it was included on a 10-city tour by representatives of Launch Indiana and Ball State University to introduce a statewide initiative to increase entrepreneurship.

Launch Indiana is a joint initiative of the Indiana Small Business Development Center and Launch Fishers. Their mission is to increase the number of successful Indiana-based innovation-driven enterprises through mentorship and education.

Huntingburg is the smallest city on the tour that included South Bend, Gary, Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Evansville. But, the creation of Current Blend, a coworking space on Fourth St., is a step in the community-driven entrepreneurship support Launch Fishers is hoping to support across the state with the help of Ball State University.

The efforts of a local group of entrepreneurs that teamed with the City of Huntingburg and Dubois Strong to create the space is seen as a step in the right direction to create an atmosphere and community of innovation in communities across the state.

In testimony to the strong business climate in Dubois County as well as the investment in the community, about 50 people filled the Old Town Hall to hear about the upcoming initiative from Launch Indiana.

Ball State’s Director of Economic Development, David Terrell, told the group that the economic initiatives designed to bring large industry into an area are not as effective as in the past. He explained that communities are having problems attracting talent and to overcome this, an atmosphere to attract talent must be fostered.

Place-based initiatives like Jasper’s Culture Center and the Stellar improvements around Huntingburg are part of the solution, he explained. Additionally, cities should be moving towards creating communities that supports innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

One of the leaders of Launch Indiana, John Wechsler, a serial entrepreneur that teamed with Fishers, Ind. to create Launch Fishers, a successful cowork space in the city’s library, has explained that the goal is to have entrepreneurship become a dinner table conversation.

To achieve this, Launch Indiana is proposing several pillars to support community efforts. Through the team at Launch Indiana and Ball State, they plan to offer guidance to create community leadership training, K-12 entrepreneurship education, community entrepreneurial mapping (or a centralized connection for potential entrepreneurs to tap into for help) and mentoring.

Some of these pillars are being met through local groups like Junior Achievement. Additionally, local mentors have already signed up through Launch Indiana to help new entrepreneurs.

The takeaway from the meeting was that Ball State and Launch Indiana have dedicated their resources to help facilitate meetings and conversations to assess the needs of communities ready to step up their entrepreneurial game. They will also train the educators and community leaders to move entrepreneurship initiatives forward.

However, much of this depends on funding from the state. Gov. Eric Holcomb included a continuation of former Governor Mike Pence’s dedication of $1 billion over the next 10 years to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in Indiana in his State of the State address earlier this month. Where that funding comes from and how those funds could be divvied up remains to be seen.

Locally, Huntingburg’s support of the volunteer group that created Current Blend as well as the recently formed Mayor’s Youth Council, have put the city and the county on the map as a representation of what can be accomplished locally to support and foster the entrepreneurial conversation.

Current Blend is a space designed to foster entrepreneurial activities as well as create a community of creative business-minded individuals. The space provides amenities such as meeting and working space, fast internet and visibility for lone-wolf and smaller business owners as they grow their businesses. More information is available at CurrentBlend.com.

“The fact that this happened here in Huntingburg in Dubois County has put us in the conversation at a high level,” Mayor Denny Spinner said. “It places in the midst of the conversation of what can be done to support entrepreneurship. The history of entrepreneurship is present in Dubois County; this just recognizes there are new ways to kindle it.”