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Leaders Commit to Cultivate Entrepreneurship Within North Central Indiana

October 31, 2016

Elevate Ventures leads partnership to develop innovative, successful business owners with ties to the South Bend-Elkhart region


INDIANAPOLIS — Elevate Ventures and leaders in North Central Indiana believe that a calculated push to develop entrepreneurs from within a community or region can substantially improve the quality of life for the citizens of St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties. They’re putting that philosophy to the test with the execution of a new long-term partnership.

Through a collaboration between Elevate Ventures and the Regional Development Authority for the South Bend-Elkhart region, civic, business and university representatives have raised funds to carry out the initiative, which will include a combination of entrepreneurial advisory services and venture capital. Investors from the region include:

  • Judd Leighton Foundation
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Community Foundation of Elkhart County
  • IOI Payroll Services/Najeeb & Nancy Khan
  • Garatoni-Smith Family Foundation
  • Community Foundation of St. Joseph County
  • Graham Allen Partners
  • Kem Krest

“The capital, talent and education that is leveraged through this partnership will drive a unique entrepreneurial ecosystem and create a greater opportunity to invest into companies of the future that are able to start and grow here in the South Bend-Elkhart Region. We know that entrepreneurship is a catalyst for the long-term success of the region and look forward to deploying these resources in support of the burgeoning companies, programs and initiatives,” says Larry Garatoni, founder of HQ Investments, based in Mishawaka, and chair of the RDA’s entrepreneurship committee.

Elevate Ventures is matching the funds raised and could potentially invest more in the region as new investment opportunities arise. The RDA appointed the entrepreneurship committee made up of 19 local leaders to manage the partnership and work with the entrepreneurship community to determine how the leveraged funds can have the most impact on supporting a robust startup community.

The most successful communities and regions of tomorrow will be those where there is a deep culture of entrepreneurism and innovation, where folks are fully engaged in their communities and building successful companies of tomorrow. Those communities and regions will be leaders in their ability to keep their talent and attract talent globally. These entrepreneurs will create opportunities for a rich choice of high-skill, high-wage careers and be high value participants in building successful communities,” says Chris LaMothe, Elevate Ventures CEO.

Through the partnership, Elevate Ventures will work to encourage entrepreneurs and nurture emerging and existing businesses and develop them into high-performing companies in North Central Indiana. In addition to connecting entrepreneurs more directly to potential investors, the partnership with Elevate Ventures will focus on enhancing the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide entrepreneurs guidance on business ideation, business strategy, marketing and more through one-on-one advising, events and pitch competitions.

The partnership between the South Bend-Elkhart RDA and Elevate Ventures is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in our region, and validation that the momentum that has been built can be expanded even further. The combination of local investors with the power of Elevate makes a strong statement that South Bend-Elkhart is a wonderful place to start and grow your business, and — with the talent from our local universities — can compete with anyone in the country,” says Rich Carlton, president and COO of Data Realty in South Bend.

Elevate Ventures’ new online Knowledge Portal for entrepreneurs and those with a stake in entrepreneurism in Indiana is also a robust source of tools and information, available at

The partnership between Elevate and the RDA signals to entrepreneurs and investors everywhere that the region and the state mean business. The Midwest is increasingly a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and Indiana is no exception. We are excited to support our local high growth businesses and look forward to welcoming new entrants,” says Tim Braun, a committee member for the partnership, venture capitalist and enterprise architect at EmNet LLC in South Bend.

Elevate Ventures is building similar partnerships with other interested regions around the state where there is a desire to keep and attract talent. Part of the overall goal is to develop an environment where people feel empowered to take risks, bring intellectual property and ideas to the marketplace, and become engaged players in their communities.


  • 183: Indiana startups Elevate Ventures has funded through various means
  • 1,500+: Companies assisted by Elevate Ventures
  • $51+ million: Total invested by Elevate Ventures
  • $318 million: Total amount leveraged against Elevate Ventures’ investments
  • 934: Investors in Elevate Ventures’ network


Established in 2011, Elevate Ventures exists to create sustainable cultures and infrastructure across Indiana that support the ongoing development and success of entrepreneurs. Our vision is to be regarded as a critical guide, resource and community catalyst for developing high-performing, high-growth, Indiana-based businesses. For more information, visit


The Regional Development Authority (RDA), comprised of a five-member board representing Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties, is guided by a strategic plan produced in 2015 by Regional Cities of Northern Indiana as it oversees projects of regional importance. Board members include John Affleck-Graves, Chair, Executive Vice President, University of Notre Dame; John DeSalle, Vice Chair, Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing for Hoosier Racing Tire Corp.; Dallas Bergl, Secretary-Treasurer, President & CEO of INOVA Federal Credit Union; Kristin Pruitt, Member, Vice President and General Counsel Lakeland Financial Corp.;  Pete McCown, Member, President of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.

In 2016, the RDA appointed a 19-member Entrepreneurship Committee, whose mission is to promote and foster the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Bend-Elkhart Region by stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in our citizens, identifying and nurturing new business startups and supporting the growth of existing high potential businesses.

Michiana Partnership, the Regional Economic Development Organization covering the South Bend-Elkhart region, provides staffing support for the RDA and the Entrepreneurship Committee.


Chris LaMothe is CEO of Elevate Ventures. LaMothe is leading the charge to develop partnerships like the one in North Central Indiana in regions around the state., 317-975-1900

Regina Emberton is president and CEO of Michiana Partnership Inc. Emberton can offer insight on the incredible momentum that exists in the South Bend-Elkhart region to grow entrepreneurship and how the RDA’s partnership with Elevate Ventures plays a role., 574-400-5432

Larry Garatoni is founder of HQ Investments, based in Mishawaka, and serves as chair of the RDA’s entrepreneurship committee. Garatoni also serves on the Elevate Ventures board of directors and can offer an investor’s perspective., 574-271-5145 x200

Tim Sexton is associate vice president for public affairs at the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame is helping fund the region’s partnership with Elevate Ventures; Sexton can answer questions about this decision., 574-631-1785

Tim Braun is a committee member for the partnership, an investor and an enterprise architect at EmNet LLC, focusing on water and renewable energy technologies. As an entrepreneur, Braun can talk about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Bend-Elkhart region., 574-440-4033

Rich Carlton is an entrepreneur and president and COO of Data Realty in South Bend., 574-307-9230

Shane Fimbel is a committee member for the partnership and COO at Global Access Point. As GAP expands its South Bend operation into the nearby Renaissance District’s Studebaker campus redevelopment, Fimbel has ties to entrepreneurial tenants who may directly benefit from the partnership., 574-472-0735

Shannon Oakes is senior program officer with the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and can provide a philanthropic perspective., 574-295-8761