On Wednesday, April 1, Bloomington’s entrepreneurial community will launch The Switchboard (www.bloomingtonswitchboard.com), a new web portal to connect entrepreneurs in the region to resources to start or grow their business. Area business leaders and entrepreneurs will gather from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Indiana University’s Cyberinfrastructure Building at 2709 E. 10th St. to present The Switchboard to the community and describe how it fits into a larger strategic plan to grow the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The Switchboard project has allowed us to understand and appreciate the significant network of support we have in the region for local entrepreneurs,” said Dana Palazzo, Project Manager of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation.” The website will be a great way to introduce and connect entrepreneurs to the necessary mentors, funding, service providers, and more to help them start a successful enterprise.”
The web portal allows users to create their account, post their company, expertise, request meetings with others, and learn about events and additional networking opportunities.
“We evaluated initiatives in other communities around the country and talked with local entrepreneurs about what they would like to see in Bloomington to better enable them to launch or grow their business,” said Steve Bryant, Executive Director of the Ivy Tech Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship. “The responses included locating startups, finding affordable space, access to financing, links to mentors, networking events, and how to connect to other entrepreneurs. That is what The Switchboard is designed to do.”
With a growing base of entrepreneurs, Bloomington has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of ‘America’s Best Cities for Doing Business’ and as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 50 ‘Hottest Small Cities for Entrepreneurs’.
The Switchboard brand and web portal are among several recommendations developed during the past year through the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Strategic Plan, which was created to foster entrepreneurship and economic growth in the region. It was developed by a coalition of partners including, the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech-Bloomington, City of Bloomington, Bloomington Economic Development Corp., Indiana University’s Office of the Vice President for Engagement and Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, West Central Small Business Development Center, SCORE, Monroe County Public Library, Monroe County Government, United Way of Bloomington, SEED Corp., Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association, Cowork Btown, and others.
Grant funding for the plan and related initiatives was provided by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and the Duke Energy Foundation.