(CNN) – A new program at Anderson University in Indiana is offering to pay off your student loans. However, you have to start a business in Anderson to get that pay-off. It’s all part of a plan to boost the city’s economy.
If there’s one thing Ben Orcutt knows it’s that starting your own business isn’t easy. Ben Orcutt, Owner of Buckskin Bikes said, “It’ll be five years for us this summer and I took my first paycheck last year.”
Orcutt is the owner of Buckskin Bikes, and an alum of Anderson University. Recently AU asked him to join a committee to help spurn entrepreneurship, he did, and made a simple observation.
Orcutt noted, “If I had student loan debt there’s no way I would have started a business.” The university took it and ran.
Program Director Deborah Miller of Fox said, “We’re offering them some educational debt repayment to relieve them of that burden.”
In February, the university launched ‘Anderson Now’, a way to get young entrepreneurs to set up in Anderson by paying their student loans.
The program takes grads from any Indiana College who have student loan debt and are hoping to open their own business. If they do it in Anderson, then the program pays their debt up to $25,000.
Miller noted, “Our dream is that these entrepreneurs will come and that they will stay. Not just for a year and then give up but they’ll become planted in this community and their business will thrive.”
There are criteria for the program and candidates must apply. However, if they’re chosen Fox says then it can be a win-win for them and the city.
Miller said, “If what we’ve envisioned works as effectively as we think it can, we think this will be an excellent model for duplication in other communities around the state of Indiana.”
As for Orcutt, his business continues to grow. He’s even opening up a coffee shop next door. Anderson is ready for more future business owners he says. It’s time for them to take the jump.
Ben Orcutt also noted, “If we could take that barrier out of someone’s way, maybe that would help them jump a little sooner.” The program is still accepting applicants and has the funds to pay the loans of 10 future entrepreneurs. It’s possible that next year there will be more.