Crossposted from the Herald-Times, this is The Mill’s regular column, written by Pat East, Executive Director.  

In the rolling hills of Southern Indiana, an initiative is taking shape, promising to launch and accelerate more startups. The Indiana Uplands Accelerator, conceived by The Mill and funded by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), promises to be a catalyst for drawing together communities to create a future brimming with opportunity
and growth.

Program Highlights and Opportunities

The Indiana Uplands Accelerator is an eight-week program packed with mentoring, workshops, and networking opportunities. Entrepreneurs get to learn from experts in marketing, sales, financials, product-market fit, and more.

  • Comprehensive Learning: From marketing strategies to financial
    management, participants gain access to a wealth of knowledge designed to catapult their startups to success.
  • Mentorship and Guidance: Direct support from industry experts provides a foundation for growth, helping entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of business ownership.
  • Collaborative Spirit: The accelerator emphasizes the importance of
    collaboration, encouraging startups to engage with each other and with
    established businesses to foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, highlighted the program’s inclusive approach: “There’s a lot of really innovative and great people that are doing a lot of really cool work here that nobody knows about. [We’re looking for] businesses that might have something scalable within them and really helping educate a little bit about what could be scalable within those businesses for them.”

The heart of the Indiana Uplands Accelerator is connecting startups with experienced mentors, offering a rich curriculum, and facilitating access to essential resources. The program ensures participants are not just surviving, but thriving. It’s a holistic ecosystem where entrepreneurs can refine their ideas, develop robust business strategies, and
engage with a network of like-minded individuals passionate about making a difference.

The Role of the Community Collaboration Fund (CCF) and IEDC

A critical enabler of the Indiana Uplands Accelerator is the Community Collaboration Fund (CCF) grant, administered by the IEDC. This fund is designed to support entrepreneurial organizations in undertaking projects that bring together diverse partners to drive innovation. The CCF grant underlines the state’s commitment to nurturing an environment where new ventures can flourish, thereby stimulating economic growth and job creation. The IEDC, through initiatives like the CCF, plays a pivotal role in empowering regions like the Uplands to harness their full potential, fostering a culture of innovation that resonates across the state.

The Mill has extensive experience in running similar entrepreneurial programs. Designed in collaboration with and for IU faculty and staff and the intellectual property office at Crane, they have given The Mill valuable experience in teaching and supporting early stage tech startups. These initiatives, along with accelerator programs like Mill Cohorts and Startup Summer, underscore The Mill’s commitment to innovation and its ability to successfully manage programs that foster economic growth and entrepreneurship.

How to Be Part of the Accelerator

The Indian Uplands Accelerator is designed for a broad range of startups, especially those in the tech sector, including early-stage tech startups, businesses with scalable potential, and large companies with internal innovation projects that may be spun off as independent ventures. It targets startups from the Indiana Uplands region, which encompasses the following 11 counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington.

For those eager to participate in the program, the application window is now open. Aspiring participants have until April 5 to submit their entries, with the program kicking off the week of April 29. To apply or learn more, visit The Mill’s website for detailed information and application materials.

Final Thoughts

The Indiana Uplands Accelerator represents more than just a program, our vision is to create an ecosystem where startups and scalable businesses thrive, leveraging the unique resources and talents of this region. Thank you to Tina Peterson of Regional Opportunities Initiative (ROI) for connecting us to entrepreneur support organizations across the Uplands Region. Thank you also to Nancy Eckerle of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce as our inaugural county partner.

Through the support of the IEDC and the efforts of The Mill, a new chapter is being written for the Indiana Uplands—a chapter filled with innovation, growth, and prosperity. As we look forward to the exciting developments that lie ahead, one thing is clear: the future of the Uplands region is bright, and it starts with the Indiana Uplands Accelerator.