On Thursday, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined two business partners and the Gary Chamber of Commerce in launching the Urban Entrepreneur Initiative (UEI). Thanks to this partnership, a total of 1,000 Gary small business owners will receive free training and accounting assistance. The program includes donations of resources to local entrepreneurs worth up to $250,000, including Five Plus Trax, a cloud computing dashboard application designed to help small business owners better understand and manage their companies’ finances, specially-designed start-up training using the “Business Basics” curriculum, and space in a City-owned facility that will serve as the UEI office and entrepreneurs’ resource center.
“The launching of the Urban Entrepreneur Initiative in our city means a win for those who aspire to maintain and open businesses in Gary,” said Freeman-Wilson. “This partnership also means more opportunities for economic development and building a more stable business community.”
The Urban Entrepreneur Initiative was conceived by Pete Justen, CEO of Washington, DC-based Five Plus, and Deardra Campbell, Managing Principal of The Green-Campbell Group in Atlanta, GA. Their shared philosophy of “Rebuilding America, One Small Business At A Time” culminated in their quest to make a meaningful donation of much needed resources to inner-city entrepreneurs, particularly those in manufacturing-reliant cities like Gary that were heavily affected decades ago by production declines in the manufacturing sector.
Justen’s Five Plus is donating to Gary entrepreneurs 1,000 licenses of Five Plus Trax, the company's cloud computing dashboard application that gives small business owners easy-to-understand, real-time access to key data that can help them make better, faster decisions concerning their company’s finances. Campbell is donating small business start-up training for up to 1,000 of the City's entrepreneurs using “Business Basics”, a curriculum she developed and has used to successfully train more than 17,000 entrepreneurs across the country. The City of Gary is donating space at the City Hall Annex building at 839 Broadway to house the initiative. The Gary Economic Development Corporation, Gary Chamber of Commerce, ACCION, and the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center are also participating in the initiative.
“Entrepreneurs and small businesses have consistently proven to be the drivers of jobs and innovation, as well as the backbone of America,” said J. Forest Hayes, Director of the Commerce Department, City of Gary. “The primary goal of the city’s Economic Development Corporation is to create jobs by providing support to businesses--a key element of economic development--including technical assistance and small business loans, as well as by actively pursuing public-private partnerships to continuously encourage the establishment of small businesses. The City of Gary is also positioned to provide municipal incentives to encourage small business attraction, growth and retention.”
The first in a series of Urban Entrepreneur Initiative donations, Gary was chosen as the inaugural location because of a personal connection. Campbell is a native of Gary and has been working with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and her team on ways to use small business development and growth – and the jobs they can create – to augment the City’s economic development and community revitalization efforts.
“As a proud product of Gary, not to mention my admiration for the mayor and her vision for the city, it is only fitting that my hometown be the first in the nation to implement UEI”, said Campbell.
Justen hails from a similar environment and knows all too well the challenges now facing many industry-dependent cities.
“I grew up in a town in Ohio much like Gary, and I believe that giving entrepreneurs the tools to succeed can help them build better lives for their families,” said Justen. “I hope launching this initiative in Gary today sparks a national movement to revitalize America through small business ownership and I pledge to make similar donations to any town in the U.S. willing to also bet on entrepreneurship.”
The launch of the entrepreneur training is set to begin Oct. 12. For more information on the training, visit http://www.gary.in.us/eventPrint.aspx?EventID=1617.
City of Gary’s Mission
To serve the current and future citizens of Gary by providing a safe, clean and working city that continuously improves the quality of life of its residents and establishes Gary as a national model for urban revitalization.
City of Gary’s Vision
The City of Gary will be safe, smart, accessible, prosperous and green. City Hall will provide the citizens of Gary with effective and responsive service while maintaining high ethical standards and fiscal discipline.
About Five Plus
Washington, DC-based Five Plus creates an easy-to-use cloud computing application that helps small businesses better understand and manage their finances, with simple-to-understand dashboards offering an overview of key financial business metrics. For more information, see: www.fiveplustrax.com.
About The Green-Campbell Group
The Green-Campbell Group is an Atlanta, GA-based social enterprise that uses small business development and personal financial literacy as tools to promote the economic uplift of low- and moderate-income individuals, as well as to catalyze large-scale community revitalization efforts. For more information, see: www.thegreencampbellgroup.com.