The Indiana Small Business Development Center announced July 22 a new partnership with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business to support the long-term economic recovery of Hoosier small businesses and entrepreneurs as they recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a new program, Project HOPE, eligible companies can 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.
“As a state, we’re focused on encouraging long-term planning and investments to propel Indiana’s economy into the future,” Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger said in a news release July 22. “With this new partnership, the Indiana SBDC will continue increasing its support for Hoosier small businesses and entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic, improving access to critical tools and resources to help companies adapt to new markets and enhance their competitiveness by growing their online presence.”
Under the program, Kelley students and recent graduates are offered paid internships to assist eligible companies in expanding their online presence, solving technology issues or providing new digital capabilities. The projects, which include creating or modifying websites, building e-commerce platforms, improving cybersecurity frameworks, migrating data and more, are overseen by faculty members and completed within two weeks.
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
• Be able to demonstrate a negative impact from COVID-19.
“Since our founding 100 years ago, our school has believed we have a responsibility to support the Indiana business community,” Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management, said. “Due to the COVID-19 situation, the need for support is greater today than ever before. Our dedicated faculty and engaged students are ready to apply their expertise and skills to help our state in its efforts to recover from the pandemic.”
More than 75 student interns have already participated in Project HOPE, providing more than 8,000 hours of direct technical support to 97 small businesses in 28 counties. Along with these services, student interns provide training and education to enable small businesses to operate the new technology or tool following the conclusion of the project. All work is conducted virtually. Indiana companies are encouraged to submit applications online at isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.
The Indiana SBDC is a program of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. It 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.