The Stage Small Business Incubator opens in Gary's Miller neighborhood

The Stage Small Business Incubator opened in Gary's Miller neighborhood.

A new small business incubator in Gary's Miller neighborhood hopes to get entrepreneurs off the ground so they invest in the city.

Miller Spotlight, the Legacy Foundation-funded grassroots community development group, has launched The Stage Small Business Incubator and Co-Working Space in Gary's lakefront Miller section. It just opened at 925 N. Shelby St. in the former jazz club, Carmella's Stage on Shelby, a space that's previously been home to a grocery store and a pharmacy.

The Stage is billed as a "place for entrepreneurs whether new or seasoned to have a safe and cultivating environment to learn, create and network with other entrepreneurs to build their own stage for business success."

It will host retail pop-up stores, so entrepreneurs can test out business ideas before they invest in full-scale brick-and-mortar operations.

"The goal is to create and foster businesses that will stay in our community," community builder Jessica Renslow said. "We're looking to address issues like jobs and the economy."

The facility offers office space rentals, financial literacy classes and other educational programs for entrepreneurs, including how to get the required permits from city government.

"We're trying to foster a network of small businesses that will work with each other, and create a dynamic business environment," she said. "We'll help get through the city's red tape, and there is that perception."

The Stage Small Business Incubator Gary is open to any type of business, and has initially attracted interest from creatives, such as jewelry makers, tattoo shops and a firm that sells eco-friendly makeup and body wash.

Business owners can get guidance on matters like paperwork, bookkeeping, marketing and logos, as well as one-on-one counseling.

The Stage Small Business Incubator also will host a number of events for both business owners and the general public, including financial literacy workshops, poetry readings, karaoke nights and Small Business Saturdays every third Saturday, Renslow said.

It also can be booked for events on Tuesdays and Saturday evenings.

Renslow hopes to work with other incubators in the city, such as ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen.

"(Businesses) could come out of ArtHouse and then rent out a pop-up here to get feedback from the community," she said.

Different levels of membership are available. The Stage is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thestagegary/ or email thestagegary@gmail.com.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.