FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The deadline is approaching for local entrepreneurs looking for an extra boost from the business community. Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s new Bridge Program connects established companies with local startups, bridging the gap between startup and success. Entrepreneurs have until Friday, Aug. 2 to apply to be part of the program’s first cohort.
“Startups are a critical piece of any growing economy,” said Renata Robinson, director of small business development at GFW Inc. “Looking at companies like Sweetwater Sound and Vera Bradley, we know the impact startups can make by creating jobs and becoming major employers. The Bridge Program is designed to fuel the success stories of tomorrow. We’ve already seen incredible interest from the entrepreneurial community, and we can’t wait to get started with our first group of founders.”
As part of the program, Bridge Investor companies sponsor a startup business’s GFW Inc. membership dues for a five-year period. The startup receives full investor benefits, including exclusive discounts, access to investor-only events, complimentary use of meeting space at the GFW Inc. offices, and more. Entrepreneurs also will be able to take part in educational and networking programs tailored specifically for startup founders.
To apply to become a Bridge Entrepreneur, founders should complete the online application at bridge.gfwinc.com.
Fifteen companies will sponsor startups as Bridge Investors:
- 1st Source Bank
- Ambassador Enterprises
- Carson LLP
- Deister Machinery
- Elevatus Architecture
- Fort Wayne Mad Ants
- Hagerman Construction
- JP Morgan Chase
- Ortho NorthEast (ONE)
- Parkview Health
- Ridge NAPA
- STAR Financial Bank
- Summit City Chevrolet
- Wells Fargo
“We’re so thankful to our Bridge Investors for stepping up to share the benefits of being part of GFW Inc. with startup companies,” said Brenda Gerber Vincent, VP of community and corporate impact at Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “I can’t wait to see the connections they forge. This is a wonderful example of the business community coming together to build a nationally recognized economy.”
The Bridge Program is part of a broad community effort to support entrepreneurship. Additional initiatives include the City of Fort Wayne’s SEED and Summit City Match programs, plus a host of grassroots and nonprofit organizations.
“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned how willing the community is to help one another,” said Aaron Robles, founder of Founders Spark, an entrepreneurial support organization in Fort Wayne. “Through programs like the Bridge Program, we’re giving businesses of all kinds the opportunity to connect and help one another. Initiatives like this send a powerful message to the community that we want people to start businesses in our city and that we’re willing to do what it takes to help them succeed.”
About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, as its primary point of contact for economic growth. GFW Inc. focuses on prosperity and community vibrancy through economic development, advocacy, programs and resources that support business success, leadership development, graduate retention and community engagement.