South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Celebrates HustleSBE Cohort 2 Graduates


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (July 24, 2020) -- Yesterday, the South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP) concluded its second HustleSBE cohort, a business bootcamp aimed toward providing support and assistance to minority and women entrepreneurs across the five-county region.

This virtual 12-session program is dedicated to bringing resources on topics including capital, certifications, financial management, and human resources to minority and women-owned businesses. Participants gathered for interactive learning and one-on-one coaching with their business coach and HustleSBE facilitator, Celena Green. They heard from guest speakers from across the region that provided their expert knowledge and willingness to foster connections. HustleSBE focused on creating resiliency and strengthening business strategies for both during a crisis like COVD-19 and beyond.

“HustleSBE reminded me that to go further faster, we must build and maintain positive and healthy relationships that will help us elevate as entrepreneurs, said Crystal Clear Recruiting CEO and Founder, Crystal Lax. “We must value and maximize opportunities that will cause us to hand off the baton to those that come after us. It is a celebration, not a competition. In everything you do, do with authenticity, honesty, and transparency so that all parties can make decisions based on what is true."

This cohort was comprised of 90% African American or Black women business owners, with 70% having established businesses in South Bend, and the remaining 30% consisting of businesses in Elkhart, Mishawaka, and Granger. Employee size ranged from solopreneurs to eleven on staff. Through the power of virtual connectivity, the program was able to accommodate an international founder, with headquarters in the South Bend – Elkhart Region, currently sheltered-in-place in Ireland. Cohort 2 included businesses from childcare, health and wellness, retail, and education.

"We created HustleSBE in response to the gap in our region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem as it relates to minority and women owned businesses,” said South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Bethany Hartley. “In our region, 13% of businesses are minority-owned and 38% are women-owned. As a result, we are continuously exploring how to mobilize around providing expanded services for all types of entrepreneurs as business ownership is proven to be the most effective way to create generational wealth for People of Color.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership provided microgrant opportunities for HustleSBE Cohort 1 and 2 graduates to implement resiliency strategies identified through the program. The program is on track to provide the same direct access to capital to Cohort 3 launching late Fall 2020.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Entrepreneurship Committee of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership are co-sponsors of the HustleSBE program. The Diversity and Inclusion committee was formed to increase opportunities for women and minorities throughout the region. The Entrepreneurship committee, Startup South Bend – Elkhart, was formed with a mission to promote and foster the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Bend – Elkhart region.

To receive updates about this and other diversity and inclusion activities, visit our Get Engaged page and select Diversity and Inclusion as your "Area of Interest".


About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP) is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. The Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: Educating a world-class WORKFORCE, Recruiting and retaining great TALENT, Attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing INDUSTRIES, Promoting INCLUSION and sparking opportunities for minorities and Helping ENTREPRENEURS thrive. The Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit

Media Contact
Bethany Hartley
South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership