Indiana lawmakers have designated $1 million for Launch Indiana, a year-old state initiative that aims to support entrepreneurs building "disruptive" companies—as opposed to those starting tried-and-true businesses.
On Thursday, the Senate appropriations committee approved a budget bill that includes $1 million for Launch Indiana, which is run by the Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Appropriations Chairman Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, learned about the program over the past several months and initiated the funding.
"It's not very often that you get to directly really help the development of small business," said Kenley, 70, who's been on the committee for 23 years. "We all talk about it, but it's hard to find the right program that really makes a difference."
For years, the small business and entrepreneurship office had been providing consulting and other resources to traditional startups. But Director Jacob Schpok said so-called "innovation-driven enterprises" – which are mostly tech companies – require a different kind of support, and Fishers-based co-working space Launch Fishers provided a good model.
"Right now if you go to Launch Fishers or you go to the Speakeasy, you are surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs that can connect you to resources and expertise," Schpok said. "And we want to make sure that intellectual property is available [across the state]."
Launch Indiana, which started in January 2014, is headquartered at Launch Fishers and has three part-time employees. When it encounters companies that are innovation-driven, it connects them with a variety of resources, including mentors.
Schpok said its success is measured in part by the amount of start-up capital its clients receive. In 2014, the program helped companies procure about $4 million. The $1 million will be used to expand services and outreach efforts.
The bill is headed to the Senate floor next week. The final budget is expected to be crafted by April 29, Kenley said.
"It's cheap," Kenley said. "We're not spending a bunch of money to have a bunch of bureaucrats sit around and dream up rules and regulations. We're putting money into an effort that we expect a return of 100 times."