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October 3, 2017

Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership announced Monday a $2.5 million collaboration to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

The two organizations signed an agreement in April to continue their work together and advance support for the program from 2017 to 2020. Monday’s announcement confirms Elevate Ventures’ contribution of $1.5 million and the Regional Partnership’s contribution of $1 million to the effort.

“The new partnership with Elevate should increase regional buy-in, and the funding opportunities for Elevate should increase collaboration throughout entrepreneurial endeavors in northeast Indiana,” John Sampson, president and CEO of the Regional Partnership, said in the announcement. “This partnership leverages Elevate’s considerable startup experience with greater ownership and control by regional players with a vested interest in the growth of startup firms in northeast Indiana.”

Sampson also has served on Elevate Ventures’ advisory board for northeast Indiana.

Marilyn Moran-Townsend, CEO of CVC Communications, chairs the board of directors of Elevate Northeast Indiana, a more robust, formal continuation of Elevate Ventures’ presence and role in the region.

“We will focus on ‘Entrepreneurial Culture Shock’…how we can become a magnet for entrepreneurs because we are collaborative, welcoming and barrier-breaking,” she said.

Funding will support entrepreneurial activities designed to endure beyond the initial term. Initiatives will include investments in local businesses, portfolio services, events for entrepreneurs and investors, marketing support, business coaching, access to professional resources and more.

Stakeholders and leaders in northeast Indiana representing a range of interests are involved in the decision to join forces with Elevate Ventures. Partners include: Ambassador Enterprises, Fort Wayne Metals, Huntington University, Lake City Bank, Michael Davidson, Micropulse Inc., Old National Bank, Olive B. Cole Foundation Inc., Parkview Health and Ultra Electronics USSI.

Indiana’s business environment is ranked highly, yet its entrepreneurship and innovation performance falls short. The state ranks 44th for job creation and 42nd for its share of total employment for firms less than six years old. Additionally, the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index, a leading indicator of new business creation in the United States, lists Indiana as No. 44 out of 50.

Region-by-region, Elevate Ventures is focusing on advancing entrepreneurship and innovation to bridge the wide gap between Indiana’s celebrated business environment and its potential to thrive. While each regional partnership is tailored to the community’s assets, needs, business base, education ecosystem and other factors, Elevate Ventures’ regional partnerships are all designed to address some common, statewide challenges that are preventing regions from thriving.

Those challenges include:

* A shortage of regional networks of leaders and entrepreneurs jointly focused on growing entrepreneurship and innovation;

* A lack of access to later-stage funding for potential high-growth businesses;

* The exit of young talent to other states;

* A need for public and private universities to aggressively engage in entrepreneurship and innovation in their communities; and

* The absence of a bold, well-supported plan around which stakeholders can rally.