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Budding entrepreneurs get chance to shine in business pitch competition focusing on southeast Fort Wayne

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Fort Wayne councilwoman Sharon Tucker is spearheading Project Activate Southeast, to identify and help entrepreneurs with new business ideas for the southeast side.
Fort Wayne 6th District City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - People with a vision to start a successful business on the southeast side will soon get the chance to sell that vision in a competition similar to what you might see on the popular TV show "Shark Tank".

Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker has launched a new program designed to empower entrepreneurs.

Project Activate SouthEast (PASE) Fort Wayne features a training program that ends with a formal business pitch to a panel of local judges.

The winner will receive an award of up to $150,000 for their brick-and-mortar business in the southeast quadrant of the city. The winner also has to commit to staying on the city's southeast side for three years.

“Residents here want places to go to get a cup of coffee, purchase products, and interact with each other. This is a great opportunity for a person to build a business that will serve the entire community and draw people Southeast," Councilwoman Tucker said.

“There are many great ideas in the community that just need a little help to thrive. If we are able to connect a business to the appropriate resources, we can ensure that the residents of Southeast Fort Wayne have access to services and a home-grown, community business will be successful.”

Entrepreneurs interested in applying to PASE must complete an entrepreneurial training program such as The BUILD Institute, a SEED program, Kauffman FastTrac, or the Breakthrough Program offered through the NIIC, or have proof of completing such a program. 

Applications open on May 15. Click here to apply.

Funding for the December pitch competition is thanks to the Tim and Libby Ash Family Foundation.

The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne will serve as the fiscal agent for the award.

The City of Fort Wayne will also provide guidance and financial support.

“The city of Fort Wayne is focused on expanding access to business services for entrepreneurs and Southeast residents,” explained Andrea Robinson, Economic Development Administrator for the City of Fort Wayne.

“It is imperative that we invest in the community if we want it to grow, and the best single source of new businesses are those that are developed in Fort Wayne and located in Fort Wayne. We’re excited to see what business ideas come out of this process.”

In addition to seeking applicants for the program, Councilwoman Tucker continues to seek business partners for the program who would like to be a part of helping PASE entrepreneurs succeed.

If a business would like to partner with PASE, they should reach out to Councilwoman Tucker at

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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