A state-sponsored entrepreneurial initiative is touting a $33.2 million economic impact in Northwest Indiana.
Elevate Ventures, a nonprofit that provides startup funding and nurtures homegrown companies across Indiana, has assisted 30 businesses in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties since it was founded more than two years ago. A commissioned study found the organization's efforts to grow fledgling businesses resulted in $5.5 million in new investment and increased revenues of $19 million.
Consultant Chmura Economics & Analytics found the assistance Elevate Ventures extended to entrepreneurs, startup companies and small businesses supported 230 jobs and resulted in $847,000 in new tax revenues.
Elevate Ventures lined up funding through its entrepreneurial assistance program to two Northwest Indiana startup companies, including Just Food Blends in Chesterton. The business makes shelf-stable tube-feeding formula entirely out of real food, instead of corn syrup and other processed fare.
Twenty-eight Northwest Indiana companies – including Tri-State Industries in Hammond, Dage-MTI in Michigan City and MCTD Inc., also in Michigan City – have gotten free technical assistance through the nonprofit's economic gardening program. Elevate Ventures helped digital and analog camera manufacturer Dage-MTI discover new markets for its products so it could boost sales, said David Clark, a venture partner at Elevate Ventures.
"We help companies sell products to different industries, and identify other industries they can target," Clark said. "But we also look at the leadership to make sure the right people are in the right seats. We look at their market position, how to develop leads and the sales process. We try to help companies grow more dramatically, but it's up to them to implement the recommendations."
Mentoring is offered to more established Indiana companies that have between five and 100 employees, and bring in between $750,000 and $25 million in annual revenue. Elevate Ventures focuses on developing such businesses, because studies have found such smaller homegrown companies account for 60 percent of the job growth in the state, Clark said.
"You always hear in the news when these big national companies add 1,000 jobs or 2,000 jobs," he said. "There's good reason to keep wanting to attract new jobs and factories, but the smaller companies create jobs in higher volumes. We want to focus on what we already have in Indiana, and make it better."