Grow Wabash County Receives $195K Entrepreneurship Grant

Grow Wabash County Receives $195K Entrepreneurship Grant

Grow Wabash County has received a $195,000 grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to support entrepreneurship programs like Innovate @ INGUARD in Wabash County in partnership with Wabash City Schools, INGUARD and others.

“The team at Innovate @ INGUARD has been working to provide a robust suite of services to entrepreneurs in Wabash County and Northeast Indiana,” said Keith Gillenwater, president & CEO of Grow Wabash County and a partner at Innovate @ INGUARD. “We’ve put together a multi-pronged approach to identify entrepreneurs of all ages and support them at whatever stage of business they are in.”

Grant funds will be used with regional stakeholders to initially implement primary and secondary entrepreneurship education at Wabash City Schools (WCS) through the INCubatoredu by Uncharted Learning curriculum. Additionally, the funds will support Business in a Box starter kits to select entrepreneurs, expand the CO.STARTERS entrepreneurial support program, purchase of a 3-D printer for prototyping for engineering and design applications, and create a local pitch competition to help prepare participants from area schools for the Innovate WithIN ™ pitch competition.

“As a founding partner of the Innovate @ INGUARD program, we are thrilled that the IEDC has recognized our program and our community as being a valuable resource to help develop and support entrepreneurial ventures in Northeast Indiana” said Parker Beauchamp, CEO of INGUARD. “Being the first electrically lighted city in the world, the birthplace of the Honeywell Corporation, and the home of Ford Meter Box we know starting things is a part of our community’s genetics and some organization of them seemed like the obvious next step.”

A major component of the grant is the Uncharted Learning curriculum at WCS. This program aims to implement entrepreneurship programming from elementary education to high school by teaching students different principles of entrepreneurship at age-appropriate levels.

“To continue cultivating Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we’re committed to increasing our support and resources to entrepreneurs while encouraging students to develop innovative ideas from an early age through programs like Innovate WithIN,” said Aaron Vigil-Martinez, vice president of small business and entrepreneurship at the IEDC. “We’re excited to support Grow Wabash County, INGUARD, and Wabash City Schools as they continue to foster an innovation-focused environment in northeast Indiana and help instill an entrepreneurial spirit among our leaders of tomorrow.”

As part of the program, Wabash City Schools will launch an after-school entrepreneurship club called FreshINCedu at O.J. Neighbors Elementary. Wabash Middle School will also enroll all eighth graders in a nine-week introduction to entrepreneurship course through MxINCedu. Finally, Wabash High School will enroll 15 students in the INCubatoredu program, where they will be presented with a community problem and tasked with developing a product, learning how to market the product and then pitching it to a group of local investors. All groups will also be required to submit a pitch proposal to Innovate WithIN™, which are due by Feb. 6.

“Wabash City Schools prides itself on offering a relevant education for its students,” said Jason Callahan, Superintendent of WCS.  “No class provides relevance like INCubatoredu. Once students understand that they have a real opportunity to create an authentic business beyond class, their engagement level is off the charts. We believe this program will not only teach students an entrepreneurial mindset, we believe it has the potential to develop and retain local talent and to drive local economic development efforts.”

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