April 9, 2019 - Mayor Tom Henry today announced details of a pilot project designed to promote entrepreneurship and help revitalize Fort Wayne’s commercial corridors.
The pilot, Summit City Match, is funded by the City of Fort Wayne and a grant from the JPMorgan Chase & Co. It is supported by Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fort Wayne Black Chamber, Latinos Count, Fort Wayne Community Schools Anthis Career Center, UAW 166, Allen County, and Brightpoint.
The Summit City Match pilot program aims to match emerging entrepreneurs with building spaces, start up technical assistance and gap grant opportunities. The pilot’s goals are to encourage the launch of more small businesses, the leasing of empty retail and commercial space, and the revitalization of the South Calhoun commercial corridor. Outreach will include special emphasis on recruiting women and people of color to participate in the program.
“Entrepreneurship is vital to the continued health of our local economy,” said Mayor Henry. “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.”
“Summit City Match addresses critical needs of entrepreneurs: locations to grow, access to capital, and technical assistance,” said Jim Cook, executive director, Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “When small businesses succeed, our communities and neighborhoods succeed.”
Summit City Match will connect businesses with vacant building space on South Calhoun Street between Murray Street and Rudisill Boulevard. Matched businesses will have the opportunity to apply for gap funding that supports project investment. The businesses will also be eligible for technical assistance in the following areas: legal, accounting, human resources, permitting/licensing, business registration, business plan writing, and marketing.
The pilot program is being administered by the City’s Summit City Entrepreneurship & Enterprise District (SEED), formerly known as the Urban Enterprise Association. The pilot goal is to fill six or more vacant buildings along South Calhoun and make up to six grants for a minimum total of $200,000. The plan is to leverage more than $500,000 in private investment from business and building owners.
A selection committee will review all applications to ensure they meet required criteria. Building and business owner matches will be announced in August 2019. Businesses must open on South Calhoun Street within one year of receiving a financial award and are expected to remain there for at least two years. Program participation does not guarantee financial awards.
The program is based on the Detroit Motor City Match program, which was announced in 2015. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. organized a visit to Detroit in September for a group of community development and economic development professionals to learn about Detroit’s revitalization efforts, including its innovative Motor City Match program.