Program helps aspiring entrepreneurs turn side hustles into a growing businesses

The minority business incubator program is targeted at northwest side residents
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Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-17 23:31:07-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A neighborhood incubation program on the northwest side is looking for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to turn their side hustles into growing businesses.

“Maybe you are a beautician or skilled laborer that just has sort of a side hustle and you really want to see that grow,” Tosseia Holmes, CEO of Crooked Creek Northwest Community Development Corporation, said.

The Neighborhood Incubator for Creatives, Hustlers, and Entrepreneurs launched in 2020. The program is a partnership between Crooked Creek Northwest Community Development Corporation and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

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CEO of Crooked Creek Northwest Community Development Corporation, Tosseia Holmes, talks with entrepreneur Wantonia Dyson.

“Our community is 76% minority. When we first launched, we didn't do it with the intention of supporting only minority residents through the process of becoming an entrepreneur,” Holmes said. “However, since the George Floyd incident, some of our partner agencies and supporters really, really wanted to double down on their efforts to create more equitable avenues towards entrepreneurship.”

The program has provided more than 150 hours per year in business education to more than 15 residents and launched a total of three businesses.

“It gives me so much joy to realize that whatever I work so hard for that I can achieve,” Wantonia Dyson said.

WRTV’s Nicole Griffin met Wantonia Dyson in January 2022. At the time, she was baking cinnamon rolls for her business, Tonia’s on a Roll. She was using the kitchen at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church off of 86th Street.

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Wantonia Dyson baking cinnamon rolls for Tonia's on a Roll.

“Being a baker myself, a mobile food baker, I didn't have access to a commercial kitchen when I needed it,” Dyson said.

Dyson was part of the first round of the 12-month business incubator program and won the pitch contest. She not only received assistance with funding for her business, but also the skills to be successful.

She’s opening The Cooking Station near 86th Street and Michigan Road. The commercial shared kitchen space will eliminate a barrier she faced by allowing culinary professionals to have a space to prep and cook the food they sell.

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Wantonia Dyson talks with Nicole Griffin about her new business.

“I'm helping people, I'm solving a problem and that's the biggest thing I wanted to do is solve a problem,” Dyson said.

An opening date has not been set yet. Dyson is waiting for construction to be completed and equipment to arrive.

The next round of the business incubator program will begin in July. Click here to apply.

Holmes shared more about the program:

Business incubator program looking for applicants for second round

Requirements include:

  • Be a minority-owned small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur.
  • Operate or reside (if home-based) in zip codes 46260, 46268, 46278, 46228, or 46254.
  • Commit to attending 75% of all sessions including monthly group sessions and one-on-one meetings with a business coach and mentor. 
  • Commit to complete 100% of assignments on-time. 
  • Gross less than $500k annually, if already operating.