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READI grant supports Legacy Foundation’s NWI BizHub as resource to help small businesses thrive

NWI Forum Foundation and READI to Ignite

Editor’s note: The Northwest Indiana Forum is partnering with Northwest Indiana Business Magazine to provide updates on READI grant recipients. This is the second in an occasional series.

Urschel Laboratories Inc., Fair Oaks Farms, Cimcor Inc. and Albanese top a long list of successful organizations started by Northwest Indiana entrepreneurs. Serving the world with products originating from our seven counties has created an economic driver that continues to draw investment and improve retention in Indiana.

This success does not always come easily, though. According to the Harvard Business Review, over two-thirds of businesses fail without delivering a positive return to investors. While the business idea could have been incredibly well thought out and versatile, the network of critical resources often does not exist in a way that affords the organization the opportunity to navigate an otherwise very difficult business climate.

The Legacy Foundation in partnership with the Unity Foundation, Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center, Crown Point Community Foundation and the Center of Workforce Innovations are all working hard to change this narrative and increase the opportunities presented to shepherds of great ideas. These efforts will help bolster the long list of successful organizations in Northwest Indiana.

The Legacy Foundation has been awarded $101,332 in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant funds through the Northwest Indiana Forum Foundation Inc. The organization’s mission is to transform Northwest Indiana by providing strategic leadership and impactful philanthropic support to ensure equitable opportunity for all communities they serve.

READI was launched by Gov. Eric Holcomb and is administered by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. READI builds on the framework and successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent initiative, encouraging regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that, when implemented, will attract and retain talent in Indiana.

In 2021 the Northwest Indiana Forum was awarded a $50 million READI grant to fund a list of 34 priority projects — including The Legacy Foundation’s NWI BizHub entrepreneur resource center.

The READI grant’s overall spending, sparked by the $50 million investment, is expected to exceed $600 million with an economic impact in the billions. The Northwest Indiana Forum is the Region’s economic development organization, representing Lake, Porter, La Porte, Starke, Pulaski, Jasper and Newton counties. The grant funds are being managed by the NWI Forum Foundation Inc.

Indiana is home to more than 500,000 small businesses that support over 1 million jobs. Outside of Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana has the second-largest business population in the state.

NWI BizHub is a support network available to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners in Northwest Indiana. It will help increase the number of small businesses by connecting them to small business development services, increase public awareness of microbusiness development and assist in building an infrastructure of collaboration through the services of our resource navigators.

“Our goal is to help entrepreneurs and micro businesses take the idea to the next level by connecting them to the resources that will help them achieve that,” said Donna Catalano, community development director with The Legacy Foundation.

The READI grant’s support of this entrepreneur resource center will lead to increased opportunity and development within Northwest Indiana.

Read more stories from the current issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


  • Spencer Summers

    Spencer Summers is the economic development director at the Northwest Indiana Forum. Summers, of Valparaiso, graduated in 2022 from Purdue University Northwest with a double major in business management and human resources. He was the basketball league director at The Courts of Northwest Indiana in Valparaiso from 2019-2022. He has experience coordinating and managing events/tournaments, managing staff, marketing and database management.

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