INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence signed an executive order on Thursday to launch a new state office designed to help entrepreneurs and owners of businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
His administration touted the move as a "realignment," since it involves restructuring the leadership of two already-existing branches of state government rather than initiating a new effort.
The Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship will house the Small Business Development Center and the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which help small businesses in their efforts to secure government contracts.
"New and young companies are the backbone of Indiana's economy and the primary engine of job growth," Pence said in a statement announcing the new office's launch.
"Our economic strength as a state relies heavily on startups, other young companies and small businesses. The Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship will put a focus on small business needs and help to make Indiana the best place to start and grow a business in America."
The office will provide business consulting and will attempt to integrate the efforts of universities, businesses and governments. It will include a "business ombudsman" whose job is to streamline state programs and its licensing and permitting processes.
The agency's first executive director will be Jacob Schpok, who has been director of the Small Business Development Center since 2011 and has worked for that agency since 2005. It will be overseen by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.
"Our teams … are already providing outreach and opportunities for Indiana small businesses," Ellspermann said, referring to agencies that focus on rural affairs, housing and community development, agriculture and the defense industry.
"We believe the synergies created by our cross collaborations will foster greater capacity building for individuals and their communities as they explore new ways to create jobs and expand."