Telling Your Story

Putting Learning Into Practice

The first three years of the Building Entrepreneurial Communities initiative have been about building capacity – strengthening the ability of community leaders to embrace and support entrepreneurship as a development strategy and giving them some tools for getting started. Many of the ways in which the pilot counties have put learning into practice, shared on the pages of this website, demonstrate the expanded capacity for entrepreneurship development that now exists in this region. However, three years is not a long time in terms of starting and growing a business. We wouldn’t expect to see many new businesses, and jobs as a result, particularly when you consider the time of national economic crisis during which this initiative unfolded.

Like many community-based initiatives, leaders in these pilot counties will need to get better at naming and measuring their success in order to build a more sustainable foundation for doing this work in the future. Some examples of promising results that are being reported include:

  • Creation of a 15-member Entrepreneurs, Pioneers and Innovators Club (EPIC) in Knox County
  • Establishment and support for the Entrepreneurial Support Network (ESN) of West Central Illinois, a network of business support agencies across four counties (Henderson, Knox, Mercer, Warren)
  • Success stories of entrepreneurs – most of the communities have captured the stories of successful entrepreneurs. Click here to read some of these E stories.
  • Building Entrepreneurial Communities in Adams County has reached citizens in 35 counties surrounding Quincy and more than 700 people through trainings and projects.
  • A total of 45 youth at Quincy High School have participated in the Going Solo curriculum over the past three years.
  • The public entrepreneurship workshop series produced by John Wood Community College during the past two years has reached numerous individuals who were considering starting a new business. Evaluations of the workshops demonstrated that individuals found the training valuable in mapping out their business ideas.
  • The City of Galesburg made six Business Innovation Grants in 2009, which facilitated the creation of four new businesses, and the enhancement of two others.