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Extension Snapshots

New webinar series launched for small business owners

Picture of an old building with trees and flagpoles in the distance

Small businesses form the backbone of Illinois’ economy, especially in smaller cities and rural areas.  With this in mind, a team from University of Illinois Extension, together with the  Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University, launched a new webinar series aimed at small business owners and designed to provide educational programming on issues relating to the creation and operation of small businesses. Extension Community and Economic Development (CED) Educators Mike Delany and Richard Proffer worked to get the series started and will be shepherding it going forward.

“The idea for a new series came about from a conversation Mike and I had one day about how to better meet the needs of small-business owners (SBO) in communities in our respective regions,” said Proffer. The first two webinars, offered in 2023, reached 59 participants during the live presentations and continue to reach more via the webinar recordings.

The inaugural webinar dealt with a new state law in Illinois regarding small businesses and the availability of retirement-plan options for their employees. The law requires any business with five or more employees to provide retirement options, where none had been required previously. The July 2023 webinar was timely, as the new statute took effect in November 2023. The webinar offered listeners the expertise of retirement-fund specialists who gave insights on how a small business might prepare for the impact of the new law. The complete webinar is available for viewing on University of Illinois Extension’s Community & Economic Development YouTube channel.

The second program offered assistance to SBOs in becoming more familiar with - and therefore more comfortable with - the resources and support available from the Internal Revenue Service to help them structure their small businesses more efficiently and more profitably. The team is working on topics for three upcoming webinars in 2024.

“Illinois Extension works to support economic growth in the state by, among other things, delivering educational programming that supports small business owners as they open, build, and sustain their presence in their local communities,” Delany notes. Illinois Extension has a goal of building local capacity through support for local communities and these small-business owners are key to the success of these efforts. 


Over 50+ attendees participated in a new webinar series aimed at small business owners. Topics included retirement plan options and IRS resources and support. 


After 16 years with University of Missouri Extension, Richard Proffer joined Illinois Extension in 2022. He grew up in the tiny town of Crump, MO, and received a bachelor of arts degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a master of business administration from Davenport University. His background in rural communities allows him to tailor his programming to each community’s needs. He brings a background in business retention and expansion work, small business development, economic development, and strategic planning – all aimed at helping to grow the community.


Extension Snapshots are monthly impact reports that share the stories of our programs in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. To have them delivered to you directly sign up using our E-blast registration.


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