Local groups back new entrepreneur program

April 10, 2019 GMT

A pilot program funded by the city of Fort Wayne and a grant from JPMorgan Chase is expected to promote entrepreneurship and help revitalize the city’s commercial corridors. 

The program, called Summit City Match, is supported by Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Fort Wayne Black Chamber, Latinos Count, the Fort Wayne Community Schools Anthis Career Center, UAW 166, Allen County government and Brightpoint.

Summit City Match is modeled after Detroit Motor City Match, a similar program launched in 2015. 

“Summit City Match addresses critical needs of entrepreneurs: locations to grow, access to capital and technical assistance,” said Jim Cook, executive director of middle market banking at JPMorgan Chase. “When small businesses succeed, our communities and neighborhoods succeed.”

According to a news release, Summit City Match will connect businesses with vacant building space on South Calhoun Street between Murray Street and Rudisill Boulevard. Selected businesses will be able to apply for gap funding to support the investment. They will also be eligible for technical assistance related to legal, accounting, human resources, permitting/licensing, business regulation, business plan writing and marketing. 

The goal of the pilot program is to fill six or more vacant buildings and provide up to six grants totaling a minimum of 500,000 in private investment from businesses and building owners. 

A committee will review applications to ensure they meet required criteria. Matches will be announced in August. If selected, businesses must open within one year of receiving a financial award. Selected businesses must then stay in that location for at least two years. Not every business that applies will receive a financial award.

“Entrepreneurship is vital to the continued health of our local economy,” Mayor Tom Henry said Tuesday. “This program will take our efforts to support small businesses to a new level and will help create jobs as well as contribute to the revitalization of our south-side neighborhoods.”

Applications are accepted online at www.summitcitymatch.com through June 30. Printed applications are also available at the Fort Wayne Urban Enterprise Association, 1830 Wayne Trace.

More information is available by emailing askSEED@cityoffortwayne.org or by calling 260-422-2304.