Inside INdiana Business

Program seeks to bring entrepreneurs to southwest Indiana

Eric Steele is the entrepreneur-in-residence for Elevate Southwest Indiana.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Elevate Southwest Indiana has launched an initiative designed to grow the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The organization says The Evansville Startup Experience will provide incentives for entrepreneurs launching high-growth, high-potential startups to consider relocating to the greater Evansville area. Entrepreneur-in-Residence Eric Steele says the goal is to not only support early-stage entrepreneurs, but also show them everything southwest Indiana has to offer.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Steele said the program will build on work already being done by local entrepreneurs.

“While there’s definitely an opportunity to grow the local startups that we have in Evansville and continue to support, we saw really to fast forward that and to gain some additional momentum, the opportunity to bring startups from outside the region,” said Steele. “The ultimate hope is that we really bring additional startups in that can then supplement the ones we currently have in Evansville and really grow the ecosystem faster than we would otherwise be able to do.”

Elevate says entrepreneurs who move to the region could qualify for up to $26,000 in incentives, which includes an opportunity to pitch for investment through the Elevate Community Ideation Fund, a one-year membership to Cowork Evansville, and up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

As part of the program, participating entrepreneurs must commit to living in southwest Indiana for at least a year. Steele says, being a regional hub, Evansville brings in a variety of resources.

“It’s a tight-knit community with a lot of support resources given its size, whether its CEOs of some of the major corporations down here, (they’re) all just a phone call away. So I think there’s a lot of support and resources that you can have in a city of this size that you might not be able to obtain elsewhere.”

Elevate Southwest Indiana is a partnership between Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures and the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. 

“With The Evansville Startup Experience, we hope entrepreneurs come for the capital and resources that the initiative provides but end up staying because of the community as well as the relationships they build,” Greg Wathen, chief executive officer of the EDC of Southwest Indiana, said in a news release.

Steele says he believes the program is the first-of-its kind in the country. He hopes it can serve as a model that can be expanded to other regions of the state and elsewhere in the U.S.

You can learn more about the initiative by clicking here.