FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An area nonprofit is working to help small business owners and entrepreneurs thrive.

SCORE Mentors is a nationwide organization that has 300 chapters across the nation. SCORE Northeast is the hub that serves Fort Wayne, Kendallville, Warsaw, Angola, and Huntington.

Services offered are:

  • Free business mentoring
  • Local workshops
  • Free resources 

With the business mentoring program, SCORE sets clients up with a mentor to help them receive confidential, business advice. This service is for clients starting out in business or ready to sell or retire.

SCORE’s Local workshops provide a wide range of business education. Topics include marketing, finance, management, and accounting. Clients also gain access to the free resource database that includes the latest in small business strategies and trends.

Another way SCORE aims to develop future business leaders is through its partnership with local colleges. Through the partnership, students compete in a business competition and the winner is awarded money to start his or her business. 

Kendall Riecken is a former winner of the competition. He owns his own car shop named Kendall Performance and Restoration. He wasn’t always his own boss, he once worked at Bad Dad Custom Motorcycles. Like many entrepreneurs, he worked his day job and built his dream on the side. 

“I kept getting busier and busier and finally when we brought the property here, I got the shop done and then it just went nuts,” laughed Riecken. 

When his business started to boom, he left his 9 to 5 to work full time for his own company.  This vision sparked while he was in school, the Ivy Tech graduate entered a business competition mentored by SCORE. 

“They were the ones behind the scenes that were helping and pushing us to get our business plans developed,” said Riecken. “Critiquing our business plans and pushing us on how to present the plans.”

Riecken beat four other students in the business competition and collected $35,000 to start up his business. He told WANE 15 that SCORE has been a complete blessing for him. 

SCORE’s chairman Steve Rinehart said that working forSCORE is a dream because he gets to help clients start their dream. 

“For those that I have been able to help that relationship has continued and I think that is the beauty of SCORE,” said Rinehart. “We intend to have long-term relationships with our clients so they can always come back to us no matter whatever stage their business is in and we can help them.”

SCORE will host Digital Skill Summer School: Google Livestream Wednesday, July 22. The workshop will start at noon and will be an hour long. This virtual event is for job seekers wanting to learn how to discover new employment opportunities using Google Search.