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In this time of continued economic uncertainty it becomes important to encourage the development of small businesses in our community. They are the backbone of local, state and national economies. It may surprise you, but according to the Small Business Administration, nearly 97 percent of Indiana's businesses in 2002 were small businesses, those with less than 500 employees. Income from the state's small businesses totaled more than $10 billion. Those numbers clearly illustrate the importance of small business in our economy.

The City of Fort Wayne is prepared to aid and foster the growth of small businesses in the community. Individuals interested in starting a business have a great tool to use to enhance their careers, stimulate economic development and create jobs in Fort Wayne. The City's 2003 Starting a Business Guide is now available at the City's website at www.cityoffortwayne.org/eservices.htm. Some of the features in the guide include tips on writing a business plan, financial and tax obligations, employment regulations, licenses, permits and registrations. The guide also assists individuals with how to officially form a business and how to choose and register a company name.

The City is also hosting a Small and Home-Based Business Forum on June 19, 2003, from 4-8 p.m. in the Omni Room of the City-County Building. Developed through a partnership with the Women's Enterprise, the Small Business Development Center and SCORE, the forum will focus on seasonal and service-based businesses, but is open to anyone interested in starting their own small or home-based business. Workshops include tips on developing a business plan and financial plan. If these forums could help develop 100 additional small or home-based business owners, the economic impact to the City of Fort Wayne would be at least $3 million.

As a former small business owner myself, I recognize that small business owners have a range of unique needs including zoning issues, financing and neighborhood concerns. This various collaborative approaches offered to potential business owners by the City of Fort Wayne helps small business owners understand what they can and can't do within their neighborhood.

If you have been thinking about starting a small business, I encourage you to use the City's Starting a Business Guide as a resource and attend our Small and Home-Based Business Forums. Both will provide you with valuable information to help your business become a pillar of strength in Fort Wayne's local economy.


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