Pike County

Our Progress

The Building Entrepreneurial Communities in Pike County initiative provided an opportunity for members of the economic development organization to participate in more than 12 different training programs designed to enhance their understanding and adoption of entrepreneurial community practices. The result is increased capacity within the county to support entrepreneurship development.

Building state of the art public infrastructure is the area of greatest impact for Pike County. Insight into the development of a business incubator was gained through the study of other communities such as Quincy and Peoria Illinois Business Incubators, Fairfield Iowa's Economic Gardening and model community practices shared through Energizing Entrepreneurs (e2) Institute. The Incubator is located in Downtown Barry and is managed by a board of individuals from the public and private sector. The Incubator is appropriate in size for our community, as it is only 2,500 sq. ft. We anticipate that we could assist anywhere from two to four businesses at a time (depending on their need for space). The Incubator is currently accepting applications for prospective tenants. The Incubator will offer business development assistance from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Entrepreneur Network which includes Quincy Entrepreneurship Center and Western Illinois University Small Business Development Center. We received a $10,000 donation from a private partner to assist in the development of the Incubator.

Entrepreneurship Education is an important consideration for building a solid pipeline of new entrepreneurs for a region. Working with educational partners John Wood Community College and University of Illinois Extension, Pike County Economic Development Corporation is working to create new local entrepreneurship education programming. Utilizing Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning, NXLevel® Guide for Enterprising Youth and Going Solo curricula - a new series on entrepreneurship - will be offered this fall in Pittsfield. Each of these curricula take a hands-on approach to teaching core principles of products, marketing, operations, and financials essential to every business start-up. The local community college is a terrific partner for this programming because of their current strength in dual credit programming for high school students and large number of associate degree programs offered that have high probability for conversion into new business starts locally.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities has helped create of a culture that recognizes, supports and celebrates entrepreneurs. Central to this entrepreneurial climate are networks that create a positive climate to nurture and encourage entrepreneurship. Several of the training opportunities highlighted strategies and approaches that communities are utilizing to create successful platforms for business networking. Pike County Economic Development Corporation plans to adopt the BizLink model currently utilized in Hancock County. Each month, entrepreneurs travel to a different business location in the county to learn more about their operations. The agenda is structured around learning from one another and making connections to resources available to support entrepreneurship.

Another aspect of a supportive culture is providing information to help entrepreneurs access the right services at the right time. Pike County modified a publication and printed 300 copies of Where to Go for What: Navigating Business Services in Pike County, IL. The publication is a directory of local entrepreneurial coaching services for starting a business in Pike County. This publication presents a unique approach to supporting entrepreneurial development. While highlighting the many different organizations supporting entrepreneurs' growth and development, the publication provides advice on when to seek support of various agencies at the most appropriate stage of business development. The publication provides a critical link between service providers and entrepreneurs. It is distributed through the New Business Incubator, Pike County Chamber of Commerce, banks, realtors, and members of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation.