FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. will welcome more entrepreneurs to its Bridge Program in coming weeks. Applications for entrepreneurs to be considered for the program are now available at bridge.gfwinc.com and are due by Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. The Bridge Program provides connections, resources, and coaching to entrepreneurs, helping them bridge the gap between startup and success.
“Entrepreneurs are so crucial to our community’s success. They spur innovation, they create jobs, and they make our community unique,” said Brenda Gerber Vincent, VP of community and corporate impact at GFW Inc. “The Bridge Program gives our local startups an extra boost, providing the connections and resources that position them for success.”
As part of the program, corporate sponsors (Bridge Sponsors) each select a startup business and sponsor its 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.
Barry Schrock, director of leadership programs at GFW Inc., is the new Bridge Program facilitator. A local entrepreneur and Gallup-certified strengths coach, he will oversee the program going forward, in addition to his other duties which include delivering customized coaching sessions to local businesses and managing the Leadership Fort Wayne program.
“The talent in our startup community is off the charts. It’s my job to help these Bridge Entrepreneurs recognize and maximize their talents so they can reach their full potential,” Schrock said. “When you have talent and a supportive network from the corporate community, there’s no limit to how far you can go.”
Six companies/organizations have committed to serve as Bridge Sponsors in the upcoming cohort:
- Century 21 Bradley Realty
- Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne
- Felderman Design-Build
- Fort Wayne Metals
- Indiana Tech
- Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne
A limited number of additional Bridge Sponsor slots are available for this year’s cohort. To learn more, business leaders should contact Schrock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s cohort will specifically include entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds as part of GFW Inc.’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. According to a study by RateMyInvestor and Diversity VC, people of color generally have been underrepresented in the U.S. entrepreneurial community and just 9% of startup founders are female.
The Bridge Program won an Excellence Award from the Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) in 2020. The award recognized innovative programs from chambers of commerce across the state.
To apply for a spot in the program, entrepreneurs should complete the online application at bridge.gfwinc.com.
About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Ind., 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.