The NIIC invests in downtown Fort Wayne ‘river movement’
By Tammy Allen | Northeast Indiana Innovation Center
IPMG, LLC, a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) recently announced investments into two downtown Fort Wayne initiatives—Hop River Brewing Company and Innovative Riverscape Group, LLC. “Investing in entrepreneurs and downtown Fort Wayne are ways that we support the Fort Wayne entrepreneurial community. When we were founded, we were also located downtown, at the former Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building. Now we are located just three miles from downtown, and our Innovation Park Campus footprint extends to serve the broader entrepreneurial community,” said Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC.
Hop River Brewing Company was formed through months of collaboration between two entrepreneurs, one located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the other recently relocated from Washington, DC. Ben Jackson and Fort Wayne native Paris McFarthing both aspired to open a brewery and co-founded the company on the idea of using four basic ingredients—water, barley, hops, and yeast—to create unique varieties of craft beer. “I believe great beer brings people together, and that independent, local businesses are the key to Fort Wayne’s renaissance. I can’t wait to help my new hometown grow alongside Hop River,” said Jackson.
Commenting on the relationship with The NIIC and IPMG, Jackson stated, ““Even before the investment, The NIIC was instrumental in getting us past the dream to the reality,” He continued, “They provided us with guidance on our business plan and introduced us to professional resources across the city. We look forward to continuing that relationship as we move to open our doors.”
The co-founders envision Hop River Brewing Company as having a strong sense of community, where people will share stories with friends and create new memories. “We treat our beer as an expression of our personalities, and from that, we seek to create our identity in Fort Wayne,” said McFarthing. The company is slated to open in late December 2017 and will include a small, craft deli kitchen in addition to a growing slate of its hand-crafted beer.
With the recent emphasis on the riverfront development in downtown Fort Wayne, local businessman Don Lewis came to The NIIC with a concept for cleaning the rivers in Northeast Indiana. “The Three Rivers of Allen County are treasures of our community. They must be taken care of for those in our community to enjoy them and so the city and county can continue to grow and prosper through this asset,” said Lewis, President, Innovative Riverscape Group, LLC.
“When I started my company, I knew I needed the support of several organizations. One organization that stood out to me based on how they help entrepreneurs was The NIIC. At The NIIC, they provide me with the services, like business coaching and advising, and the connections needed to start and stay in business,” said Lewis.
“Clean rivers will certainly beautify the region and contribute to health and wellness of those living near and enjoying the rivers. They will also provide a safer environment to navigate the riverways for recreational activities. As far as the city’s infrastructure goes, clean rivers will help to reduce destruction of levees and banks and help to reduce the costs for repairs and maintenance of bridge structures and dams in the path of the riverways.”
“Innovation comes in many forms, and both of these ventures have unique business models to addressing customer pain in their respective marketplaces. We are thrilled to elevate their efforts through these strategic investments,” said LaPan.