GREENCASTLE -- In these challenging economic times, a new initiative --Greencastle's Project Ignition, Inc. (GPI) -- aims to expand small businesses and stimulate much-needed economic growth in Putnam County.
GPI, headquartered in Greencastle, is available to support local entrepreneurs with services including marketing, web development, accounting, technological access, and retail space at discounted prices.
"Entrepreneurs need support, and GPI was created as an incubator to meet those needs and create new opportunities for economic activity in Greencastle," says executive director and president, Amy Doan. "We want to inform those who own small businesses or are considering starting a new venture that GPI is here for them."
GPI was developed over the past year by a Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce subcommittee, with the help of DePauw University and local business leaders.
The goal is to encourage and assist entrepreneurs with starting or growing their business, as well as supporting existing small businesses in the community. Working together will facilitate economic development -- the main objective of GPI.
GPI collaborates with DePauw University and its Management Fellows program (whose graduates include Angie's List co-founder Angie Hicks and Butler men's basketball coach Brad Stevens), as well as the Greencastle / Putnam County Development Center.
Collaboration with the arts is also important to GPI, as indicated by the existing and successful GC Galleria, a retail art incubator that hosts nearly 20 Putnam County artists and vendors.
"This is a community with tremendous resources, not the least of which is one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges," says Bethany Harrod, assistant director at GPI and a senior at DePauw. "Combining the energies and brainpower of students and citizens creates powerful possibilities as we look to create new engines of opportunity and enhance the 173-year history that Greencastle and DePauw share."
With over 10,100 residents, the city of Greencastle has the highest population in Putnam County and is poised for growth as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area continues its westward expansion.
Unfortunately, the unemployment rates of Greencastle and Putnam County have been comparatively worse than those in the Greater Indianapolis area; while Indy and Carmel demonstrate 8.5 percent jobless rates and surrounding counties show similar figures (Hendricks remains at 7.5 percent and Montgomery at 8.3 percent), Putnam County is experiencing a 10.5 percent unemployment rate.
Similarly, Putnam's 8.5 percent housing vacancy number resides well above Indy's 7.5 percent, Hendricks' 5 percent and Montgomery's 6.9 percent respective rates.
"There are challenges here, to be certain, but a wealth of opportunities," added Doan. "GPI is here to focus on small business growth, which studies pinpoint as the economic development focus of the future. I am thrilled with the board we have put together to lead the charge. With DePauw and Ivy Tech both located here there is a large supply of amazing young talent; it's an exciting time for Greencastle."
Learn more at www.gcprojectignition.com.