The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced the 2020 FUSE Business Innovation Awards today, December 17. The FUSE Awards recognize the accomplishments of both companies and individuals in Bloomington's thriving technology and innovation scene.
“These innovation leaders drive growth in our entrepreneurial ecosystem and our local economy,” said Pat East, The Mill’s Executive Director. “Some of the 2020 winners, like Jeff Mease of One World Enterprises, have been bringing creative ideas to life for years. Others, like Megan Cox’s company Genie Supply, are bringing new energy, new talent, and whole new industries to south central Indiana. The Bloomington metro area is rich in experience and ingenuity, and we’re going to need both to fully recover from the economic repercussions of the pandemic.”
The 2020 winners are:
The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The FUSE Awards were founded by the Indiana SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in 2004. The Mill rebooted the awards and has been celebrating the community's successes since 2017.
For a full list of all nominees and winners, visit https://dimensionmill.org/fuse-business-innovation-awards/
Information technology (IT) underwent a major change in 2020 as organizations were forced to quickly adopt strategies to handle new cybersecurity threats and increase remote working and collaboration needs, according to Matrix Integration, a strategic IT solutions and managed services provider for more than 1,000 businesses and schools in the Midwest and beyond. Cybersecurity remains a top concern for 2021, as hackers continue to threaten organizations, particularly in energy/utilities, government, and manufacturing. (1)
“Although every organization is putting more money towards cybersecurity, the ground is always shifting,” said Rob Wildman, vice president of professional services at Matrix Integration. “It takes an overall investment in not just technology, but in people who understand the security environment and can work with the larger IT team to coordinate efforts to prevent, detect and mitigate threats.”
In addition to cybersecurity, both businesses and technology experts expect a continuation of remote work and learning. In 2020, Matrix Integration worked with Cisco to design unified collaboration solutions for schools and businesses.
“The solution is powerful and flexible enough to work in the long-term,” said Reggie Gresham, vice president of sales and marketing at Matrix. “The work we’ve done includes new cameras, endpoints, additional bandwidth, and easy-to-use software tools to facilitate all kinds of collaboration and e-learning scenarios.”
For 2021, Matrix Integration predicts organizations will continue or increase their investment in these top five areas:
2.Enterprise-level telephony systems for any business.
5.Virtual IT Departments.
During June and July, Carpets Plus Colortile had its “Shop for the Paws” event. During this time period, many flooring vendors donate money based on the number of cartons or square footage of material were sold.
This year they were able to raise $700 through vendors, such as Shaw and Mohawk. Carpets Plus Colortile decided to match the gift and spread the love to two animal shelters!
The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for entrepreneurship, announced that ShuffleMe was the winner of the inaugural Spark Business Plan Competition today, December 15. ShuffleMe is predictive mood software to help social media users monitor the impact of social media on their mood. The SaaS solution runs in the background, using facial recognition and emotional AI to gather data for users and their mental health providers. Founder Britain Taylor took home $2,500, which she says will be used to help make sure the software is multiplatform. Test pilots are already running now with several medical institutions.
The competition was open to entrepreneurs in the Bloomington-Columbus area, and sponsored by Duke Energy. Entries were scored by a panel of judges including investors and experts representing Elevate Ventures, IU Ventures, the Kelley School of Business, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Velocities, and Ivy Tech Community College.
Additional high scores were earned by: OurSafeQ, a virtual system to manage lines of waiting; Reezy, an app to help consumers easily save all digital and print receipts from any store; and WayZada, which creates custom 3-D works of art to memorialize outdoor achievements such as long distance runs.
The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information on the Spark competition, visit https://dimensionmill.org/business-plan-competition/
Customer Engagement to Drive Sales
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In partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has announced that Bloomington has again been awarded a perfect score on the annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI). The index of 506 cities nationwide uses 49 criteria to evaluate how inclusive a city’s laws, policies, and services are of the LGBTQ+ people who live and work there. Bloomington was one of only 94 cities in the U.S. to earn a perfect score this year, up from 88 last year and just 11 in 2012 and, as in last year’s index, was the only city in Indiana to do so. Bloomington’s scorecard is available here.
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On Friday, December 11, the first cohort of The Mill Code School, powered by gener8tor, graduated in a virtual ceremony. Featured speakers include Mayor John Hamilton and Secretary Blair Milo, the State of Indiana's first Secretary for Career Connections and Talent.
Funded in part through a $100,000 investment by the City of Bloomington, The Mill Code School was a 10-week free pilot program for Bloomington residents to gain entry-level coding skills, in order to access better employment options. No prior experience or degrees were required. Participants could complete the program while also working full-time.
The City of Bloomington Utilities Department (CBU) invites homeowners to apply for funding through the third annual Residential Stormwater Grants Program. CBU has allocated $70,000 for the 2021 program to assist owners of single-family residential property with environmentally-friendly drainage projects such as rain gardens, bioswales, and detention pond maintenance. CBU will host a public information meeting about the grant application process and project requirements via video conferencing on Tuesday, January 19, 6 – 7 p.m. This information will be recorded and available on the CBU grants webpage at www.bloomington.in.gov/utilities/stormwater/grants.
The grant program provides small grants to homeowners for sustainable stormwater infrastructure projects on private residential property. These projects are expected to improve the management of stormwater before it enters local waterways or the City’s stormwater conveyance infrastructure known as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). Localized flooding can occur when the MS4 infrastructure receives more water than it can accommodate in a short period of time. Also, the water that flows into storm drains and through the MS4 doesn’t get treated, so it transports pollutants from the urban landscape directly into our local waterways.
Smithville, UDWI forge partnership to accelerate fiber construction; first project in Monroe County set to break ground in January 2021