Indiana’s premier voice for technology-related public policy urged action to address systemic racism it said has plagued the nation for too long.

“We simply cannot have a thriving tech community in Indiana without diversity, inclusion and equality. These values are key pillars of our policy advocacy, but we know we must do more,” the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association said in a June 5 news release.

“Our Place Policy Committee will take a hard look at how we can identify and advocate for specific policy proposals for the next legislative session to improve diversity and inclusion within the tech community and beyond, and to combat systemic racism in Indiana,” it said.

“We also urge our state and local leaders to do the same, and work to enact meaningful policy reforms. We pledge to foster these conversations within our own association, listen and do our part to affect change.”

TechPoint, the main trade association for Indiana’s technology industry, issued a news release a few days later calling on police and government leaders to rebuild a public safety and criminal justice system to deliver equal safety and equal justice.

“We stand with the Black community in our city, our state, and our country against inequality, injustice, and institutional racism. And at this moment — for our Black friends and colleagues, fellow community members, and citizens — we call for dignity, justice, and action,” Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO, said in the release.

“TechPoint exists to advance regional prosperity by growing and strengthening our tech ecosystem. That prosperity should be inclusive, but today and for far too long, it has not been. We acknowledge the role we can and should play toward longer-term solutions,” he said.

“We have been very intentional and diligent, weaving diversity and inclusion objectives into everything we do, but we can do more, and we can be more transparent about those goals and where we stand today.”

Moving forward, the organization is committing to the following, Langellier said:

• Evaluation of our base of members and board members, with an intention to seek out minority-led tech employers to add, and elevate their voices in board leadership.

• Publishing our existing diversity and inclusion goals, including those for talent program applications and hiring, and transparency in our progress toward them.

• Facilitated introductions for Black entrepreneurs to venture capital firms.

• Building alliances with Black community and business organizations and continually highlighting minority voices, contributions, and perspectives to the tech ecosystem via the TechPoint Index.

• Additional promotion of Black voices in professional speaker and panelists opportunities, in our own programming, and to the greater tech community.

TechPoint will embrace its role as the nucleus of Indiana’s tech community to engage its member companies and universities to accelerate equity, Langellier said.

The organization welcomes outreach from groups interested in joining TechPoint in these efforts, he said.

Grissom proposed as Space Command HQ

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, would like to see the U.S. Air Force use one of its bases about 70 miles southwest of Fort Wayne for the U.S. Space Command headquarters.

The two said in a news release early this month that they have mailed a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett urging her to consider Grissom Air Force Base for the headquarters location.

President Donald Trump activated the U.S. Space Command as the nation’s 11th unified combatant command last August with plans for it to serve as a centralized authority for the U.S. military’s role in space.

The Air Force will select a permanent Space Command headquarters site early next year as a step toward having it fully operational in about six years.

“I applaud the Space Force for expanding their search beyond the traditional space hubs, like Colorado, California and Florida,” Banks said in the release.

“Indiana has an established defense innovation base, superior educational institutions and a low cost of living; our state is innovative, primed for growth and I’m glad it isn’t being overlooked,” he said.

“Within Indiana, Grissom Air Force Base is an excellent candidate site. Its runway was designed as an alternative landing location for space missions and it has plenty of room for expansion. I encourage the Air Force to consider Grissom as they weigh options for the new U.S. Space Command headquarters.”

Space Command headquarters operations will require about 1,400 military and civilian personnel.

SOUP schedules online pitch event

Fort Wayne SOUP has scheduled its next pitch competition for July 16 and planned to welcome business plans for consideration as potential contenders through June 19.

“We hosted our May 14 event online amidst the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate. We felt it was important to move our event online, rather than cancel it during these uncertain times,” Amber Bouthot, a Fort Wayne SOUP board member, said in an announcement.

“The response to our virtual event on May 14th was extremely positive. Now, more than ever, our community needs support and positivity,” she said.

“Our events are all about bringing the community together to support ideas that positively impact our region — and since we can’t physically be together, we are creating a space online.”

The nonprofit group, SOUP — using an acronym that stands for socializing, organizing, uniting people — collects $5 from everyone attending its quarterly micro-grant events and invites audience members to vote on their favorite of four or five funding pitches that they hear from startup businesses or nonprofits.

When it takes place in person as a dinner, sponsors ordinarily donate food for the event, and the money collected goes to the startup that receives the most votes when ballots are counted after the pitches are made.

Presenters have 4 minutes to make a pitch and an additional 4 minutes to answer audience questions about their startups.

For the upcoming online event, video pitches will be posted to the Fort Wayne SOUP Facebook page on July 10 so viewers can post questions for presenters in video comments areas.

Individuals who would like to cast votes for their favorite pitches may purchase tickets for the event at the Eventbrite website at https://tinyurl.com/y84kmjup.

Ticket sales for the event will end on the day it takes place, according to the website, and votes for the pitch competition must be cast before 6 p.m. that day. The winning pitch will be announced via Facebook live that day at 8 p.m.

Rural Sourcing supports STEM events

Rural Sourcing’s Fort Wayne Development Center will see one of its colleagues leading a digital game design workshop as part of a Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana Michiana Coding for Good camp.

The camp scheduled to take place this fall will be among several local events that have attracted participation from workers at the company’s newest development center, including science, technology, engineering and math festivals, a Rural Sourcing blog reported last month.

The Atlanta-based information technology outsourcing provider focused on cost-competitive software development and critical business and cloud application support and maintenance has been operating in Fort Wayne since last year and has offices at 127 W. Wayne St.

The center has attracted a workforce of employees who handle their day-to-day responsibilities with an “engineer’s mind and a teacher’s heart,” Bill Rose, its director, said in the blog’s Spotlight report last month.

“I like to describe the culture at our center as being colleague focused and delivery driven,” he said. “There’s a strong Midwestern work ethic here, and everyone is very passionate about what they do.”

Rural Sourcing has joined the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to contribute to the region’s tight-knit, supportive business community and the blog said it has found “there’s definitely no shortage of fun in Fort Wayne.”

Veteran reporter Doug LeDuc joined Business Weekly in 2006 and primarily covers banking and finance and technology. You can send information for his weekly column to dleduc@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3309.

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