The Herald-Times

Local groups partnering to support entrepreneurship

Effort designed to help new businesses ‘connect the dots’ on services, advice, programs

By Bill Strother
331-4265 |
January 30, 2013

The city of Bloomington, the local economic development corporation and Ivy Tech’s Center for Entrepreneurship will be working with other groups over the next several months to design an “ecosystem” to help new businesses and entrepreneurs “connect the dots” on services, advice and programs to help them succeed.

Work on the plan was announced in a news release this week. The group’s first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning in the Johnson Creamery building downtown.

The effort is being financed by a portion of a $35,000 grant from the Monroe County Community Foundation to the entrepreneurship center. A number of other agencies, ranging from United Way to the Bloomington Enterprise Association to Indiana University to the chamber of commerce to county government, are participating.

The plan is to identify those resources that are available to small-business people just starting out or who need guidance on such issues as managing growth, marketing, financing and other key elements of business development, then devising a coherent and connected system to point people toward the help they need, said Steve Bryant, director of the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship.

Another goal is to create a network that also works for provider agencies to better muster resources and quickly identify and match needs to providers.

Wednesday’s initial meeting will rough out the study plan and outline goals, with regularly scheduled meetings and roundtables that will explore what is available, identify best practices and any redundancies and investigate similar efforts in other cities.

Bryant said most of the study budget likely will go to pay for reports and research and to bring in consultants, and perhaps send small expeditions to explore efforts in cities such as Ann Arbor or Cleveland, two cities that Bryant said have systems that are relevant to Bloomington.

“What we want is it to be agreed upon that ‘here’s the structure and system for serving entrepreneurs,’” said development corporation president Ron Walker. “We’ll know where we fit into the picture and how best to move people through.”

Danise Alano-Martin, the city’s economic development director, said the goal is to provide a framework for collaboration that is as seamless as possible and that works not only for client businesses but also is sustainable for the providers who are involved.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us who have the same big picture goal to figure out the details on how we get there in a way that makes sense for us and for the ones making the big decision and starting a business.”

Copyright: 2013


About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.