Fort Wayne small businesses vie for $250,000 grant from 'Mission: Small Business'

Being a small business in the aftermath of a recession can be hard on a community, but now a handful of local businesses, ranging from yoga to food-delivery, are asking Fort Wayne residents for help by June 30.

Sponsored by Chase and LivingSocial, Mission: Small Business is a grant program to help small businesses across the United States by awarding up to 12 individual $250,000 grants. 

But the competition is tough. In Fort Wayne alone, 38 local businesses are competing for the 12 grants. The businesses need at least 250 votes from the community to move on to the final round and anyone, from anywhere can vote.  

Derek Berkes, owner of Waiter on the Way and grant program participant, said through the Mission: Small Business program he hopes to help people in other communities learn how to run a food-delivery business.

“A lot of times when you talk to different business, they say the No. 1 goal is to gain more customers and make more money, but we just want to know how we can help others accomplish their goal through food training,” Berkes says.

In the last couple years, the food service industry has suffered, but Berkes says he hopes to share his business model with other entrepreneurs. 

“Our focus is on the relationship with the customer and other businesses. It’s the personal connection that sets us apart from other businesses,” Berkes says. 

The grant money is intended to help up to 12 small businesses grow by expanding, upgrading equipment or improving a product or service. 

Cara Hall, owner of Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Shop, says she only learned about the program recently on Facebook and now she hopes the community will show their support for her growing business. 

“We’ve been in business for five years and it takes a lot of capitol to grow the business,” Hall says. “We want to put in a floating dock system because our rivers go up and down constantly, and it can be hard to launch people. With the dock, it would be easier for our customers.”

She said in addition to the floating dock, Hall says, Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike shops also wants to invest in downtown by offering more pedicab options. 

“We would use the money to make downtown Fort Wayne better and cooler, adding to the attractions for Fort Wayne and its visitors. I’m looking at it as an investment downtown, and something that will not only invest in our company, but will benefit the community as a whole,” Hall says. 

Sponsors began with a pool of $1 million to get the program off the ground but supporters have increased that pool to $3 million by voting on the website. 

But, how does Chase and LivingSocial pick who wins?

The sponsors decided that if a business gets at least 250 votes, they will be entered into the final voting pool where a panel of top-ranking CEOs will decide the 12 grant winners from across the country. 

Brendan Lewis, director of corporate communications at LivingSocial, says in an email businesses will be evaluated based upon the following criteria: 

  •  The business must have solid operations, management and/or owners
  •  A feasible business plan for growth
  •  Likelihood to succeed in a two-year timeframe
  •  Positive impact on their communities
  •  Energy, enthusiasm and passion for their business 

“Our panelists are notable business executives who know what it takes to start and grow a businesses of all sizes. Drawing on their own experiences, they have the right perspective on what companies hold the most promise and deserve a grant,” Lewis writes.

Vicki Salzbrun, owner of LOTUS Yoga, Wellness, & Gallery, says she is posting about the grant program on Facebook, sending out details in a newsletter, as well as sharing the information by word of mouth.

“We are a community-driven business and love to bring it together with wellness, yoga, and the arts. We love seeing everyone's smiling faces as they come in … This is what community is all about: discovering camaraderie, feeling welcome and finding joy,” Salzbrun says.

If you would like to find the joy of helping a small Fort Wayne business as it may have helped you, all it takes is the click of a mouse.

Visit to find out more about the program or cast your vote. To vote, click login with Facebook, then you can either search by state and city or search for a spacific business name.

Remember, you are able to vote for as many businesses as you’d like before June 30, so spread the love and help out a small business in need. 


Small Businesses Participating via

Dustin McKibben- Photography

5412 C. River Run Trail Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Alpha Computer Mac & PC

Computer sales and service no big store can match. Go local and save. 

301 Stable Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Genex Studio

Marketing Solutions for the 21st Century 

4734 Parnell Ave.

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Professional Home Automation

13204 Bolinni Lane

Fort Wayne, IN 46845



"On The Market" Realty

Northern Indiana’s Premier full service Real Estate Company. 

6840 Woodcrest Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46815



Integrity Appraisal Service, LLC

5525 Union Chapel Rd

Fort Wayne, IN 46845



Yang's China Buffet, Inc.

My business is really slow right now. Its hurt on any of us to survive in this kind of economic down turn. Vote for me! 

5970 West Jefferson blvd.

Fort Wayne, IN 46804



Xtreme Recovery DBA Amber Clark

I am 34, single women owner of repo business and started four years ago. I did no advertising got my clients on my own by walking in and telling about.

3630 New Haven Avenue

Fort Wayne, IN 46803




Fostering Positive Mental Health in Children and Adolescents 

6526 West Jefferson Blvd

Fort Wayne, IN 46804



Holistic Kibble to go

Premium brand pet food personally delivered to your door without the hassle of going to the store. 

9929 Bentley Woods Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Commercial Construction, Inc.

Commercial Construction is "Built To Last" 

4207 Gallmeyer Court

Fort Wayne, IN 46835



BFI Group

Built on Excellence 

516 High Street

Fort Wayne, IN 46808



Catalyst Fitness

Institute of Health and Wellness 

508 Hadley Rd.

Fort Wayne, IN 46804



Lotus Yoga, Wellness, & Gallery

Be Creative. Be Well. Be You. 

1301 Lafayette Street Suite 205

Fort Wayne, IN 46802



Duesenburg Inc

Duesenburg Automation Group 

2232 Research Dr

Fort Wayne, IN 46808




"TAG! We're it!" 

4447 Lafayette Esplanade

Fort Wayne, IN 46806



FWSUM Library Sales

3901 South Wayne Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46807



A Day Away Adult Daycare, Inc

The time your need, the care they deserve. 

1701 Freeman St. Ste. 3

Fort Wayne, IN 46802




If you have a need you have a place tonight. 

Nice warm and safe immediate housing, but we need an elevator, roof, etc. with your help. Please Vote 

2502 Edsall Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46803



Midland Valley Mushrooms

Seeking the integration of clean and sustainable energy for our veteran owned Business with this Grant 

3517 Waterton Cove

Fort Wayne, IN 46804



Pranayoga School of Yoga and Health

Discover Your Strength. Awaken Your Spirit 

218 Pearl Street

Fort Wayne, IN 46802



JumboMax Golf Grips

5030 Tyrone RD

Fort Wayne, IN 46809



Grind Hard LLC

Grind Hard Clothing Co. Rise and grind it’s an everyday thing.

1814 Bayer Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Waiter on the Way

We are Fort Wayne's premier restaurant food delivery service. 

6205 Stoney Creek Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Beth Maine

Accounting and tax preparation for individuals, self employed, LLC and corporations.

2508 St Louis Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46809



Custom Art

Small family owned company. Celebrating 50 years. Second generation wanting to buy. 

2800 Wayne Trace

Fort Wayne, IN 46803



Desiar Eyewear

5214 Pheasant Run

Fort Wayne, IN 46835



Organic disease control

11430 Coldwater RD

Fort Wayne, IN 46845



2 Guys Tree Service

7531 Auburn Rd

Fort Wayne, IN 46825



Alpha Rae Personnel, Inc.

Alpha Rae Personnel is a full service staffing and HR outsourcing firm with a proven track record of over 25 years of success. 

347 W Berry St, 7th Floor

Fort Wayne, IN 46802



GPM Global

Green Project Management 

3380 Garland Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46805



Jesse's Automotive

Full service repair shop that does repairs on all makes and models of vehicles at reasonable prices done by knowledgeable and experienced technicians.

3229 North Clinton

Fort Wayne, IN 46805



Gart's Lawn Care

Award Winning Lawn Care and Landscaping 

3939 Evergreen Ln 

Fort Wayne, IN 46815



Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot

Bringing an active lifestyle back to Fort Wayne 

1004 Cass St

Fort Wayne, IN 46808



Sarah Thompson

Uniquely Functional Handmade Ceramics 

514 Constance Ave

Fort Wayne, IN 46805



Chop Shop Full Service Hair Repair

6813 Old Trail Rd.

Fort Wayne, IN 46809



DJ'S Sporting Goods

Sporting Good for the Aggressive Athlete, but you don't have to be an Aggressive Athlete either. Shop with us for all of your Sporting goods need 

1522 Bear Claw Lane 

Fort Wayne, IN 46845



Originals by Kay

Reproduction historical clothing done right 

721 E Wayne St

Ft Wayne, IN 46802

260-422-7617's Jaclyn Goldsborough explores the Summit City, digging deep into the Fort Wayne scene to get the skinny on what's happening right under our noses. From fun things to do to undiscovered community gems you rarely hear about, Jaclyn shows you the real Fort Wayne.