Galesburg, IL (PRWEB) November 20, 2012
Suffering from the closure of the Maytag and Butler plants that jointly employed over 3,000 in late 2005, the City of Galesburg and regional partners are transforming their community for a new innovation economy. There has been a lot of activity in the economic development front in the past two years including the retention and creation of nearly 1,000 jobs; the development of the Sustainable Business Center, an incubator for green sustainable businesses; inbound and outbound trade missions; and the development of the Entrepreneurship Center of West Central Illinois. At the root of this activity is an innovative approach to economic development that has taken shape in Galesburg, IL.
Ignited nearly 2 years ago by a $1.2 million federal grant, the Galesburg region is preparing to prosper in the new economy where knowledge, information, and innovation are the key drivers of economic and business development. The new approach to economic development is based on four key strategies developed by a collaborative effort, lead by the City’s economic development department, and branded as the EBI (Entrepreneurs, Business, and Industry) Network. “It’s based on the new economy and the belief that we as a community are not passive observers but active creators and agents of change”, explained Cesar Suarez, economic development director for the City of Galesburg. “Our approach is to get everyone thinking about entrepreneurship, innovation, globalization, and sustainability and then take action. All our programs are based on these four strategies.”
On the entrepreneurship front, the EBI Network created a host of programs centered on building an entrepreneurial mindset. “We’ve developed an email newsletter and blog that seeks to educate and empower entrepreneurs” commented Ryan Lilly, Entrepreneurship Center Manager, and publisher of the newsletter.
The EBI’s Innovation programs focus on igniting innovation throughout the region. In addition to hosted Innovation Certificates and providing award recognition the EBI Network has created the SPARK program which is designed to provide funds, up to $10,000, for companies to introduce new products and services into new markets.
The EBI Network’s globalization efforts have matured since September 2011 when it first visited several foreign consulates in Chicago to where an outbound trade mission is planned for December 2012. “We’ve identified opportunities for bi-lateral trade with Indonesia,” said Gary Camarano, Global Strategies Director for the EBI team. “We anticipate that ten businesses from our region will participate in an outbound trade mission to Indonesia. Galesburg is leading the trade mission in conjunction with the State of Illinois’ DCEO. We’ll meet with potential trade partners and customers, and attend the Manufacturing Indonesia EXPO 2012. The State has been very supportive in providing exhibit booths and partial funding for the mission.”
As for sustainability, the EBI Network provided support and recruited tenants for the Sustainable Business Center. "We are one of the first incubators in the nation exclusively for those environmentally-focused startups requiring manufacturing and distribution space," said Eric Dilts, Director at the Sustainable Business Center. "We currently have 5 tenants who occupy our 88,000 sq. ft. facility. It’s filling up quickly, but there’s still space available."
"What’s happening in Galesburg is an inspiring story of transforming a local/regional economy and we felt it needed to be shared with other communities who may be dealing with similar challenges," said Erin Bell, President of the Film Club at nearby Knox College. "That’s why we’re documenting on film the innovative companies at the SBC” said Markie Jo Crimson, also with the club. A sneak-preview of the short film is available here http://youtu.be/AtBZHf0dHlE
More information on the incubator can be found at http://www.SustainableBusinessCenter.com. Details of the EBI Network are available at ebinetwork.org.