Adams County

Our Progress

The impact of investment dollars through Building Entrepreneurial Communities in Adams County has reached citizens in 35 counties surrounding Quincy and more than 700 people through trainings and projects.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities cultivated creativity in economic development strategies. Through a careful study and investigation of the Renaissance Alliance Lower Town and Downtown Development in Paducah Kentucky, Great River Economic Development Foundation (GREDF) led a community exchange focused on discovering new planning, development and marketing strategies required to build infrastructure necessary to support a similar artist renaissance in downtown Quincy. The Historic Quincy Business District provides an ideal setting for development of public infrastructure to support an artist relocation program.

Working with the Quincy City Planner, Historic Quincy Business District Director and University of Illinois Extension (UIE), GREDF has created a new partnership focused on an artist relocation program for downtown Quincy. Once launched, the Quincy Artist Relocation Program would serve dual purposes – to support entrepreneurs in the arts and to beautify and restore aging buildings in the downtown area.

Entrepreneurship Education is an important consideration for building a solid pipeline of new entrepreneurs for a region. Working with educational partners Quincy University, John Wood Community College (JWCC), and Quincy High School, GREDF has supported the development of local entrepreneurship education programming. Utilizing curricula developed at the University of Illinois and across the nation, Adams County has implemented several new entrepreneurship education programs. The Going Solo curriculum is offered to Quincy High School with a total of 45 youth participating over the past three years. In addition, the USDA RCDI project investments in curriculum resources have been shared with JWCC and Quincy University. John Wood College has utilized the REAL Entrepreneurship curriculum to create a public workshop series. Evaluations of the workshops demonstrated that individuals found the training valuable in mapping out their business idea. This process has fostered a collaborative relationship between GREDF, JWCC and UIE to promote entrepreneurial trainings and activities. Building on this experience, this partnership is also working with Quincy University (QU), bringing curriculum resources from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership to Quincy University.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities has helped create a culture that recognizes, supports and celebrates entrepreneurs. Live Local is a collaborative initiative to educate and promote the importance of independently-owned business to the local community. There are more than 14 partners and supporting organizations, including local businesses, Great River Economic Development Foundation, Historic Quincy Business District, City of Quincy and University of Illinois Extension. The group organized in spring 2009 and has rolled out a marketing campaign to educate the public about the impact of purchasing goods and services locally on the economy. Information on this effort can be found at www.livelocalquincy.org.

This campaign directly supports local entrepreneurs. The goals of Live Local Quincy are to educate members of the community on the dynamics of shopping choices/decisions and how those choices impact the local economy; to foster collaboration among independently-owned businesses and partnering organizations; and to promote the concept of living locally to members of the Quincy community.

Networks are a central component of an entrepreneurial climate; they create a positive environment to nurture and encourage entrepreneurship. USDA's RCDI grant helped build the infrastructure or platform for increased networking among entrepreneurs and service providers. Tri-State Development Summit Entrepreneurship Task Force and GREDF have hosted a number of networking events throughout this project, reaching more than 450 entrepreneurs and service providers. End of session evaluations indicated that participants were supportive of additional networking opportunities.

Linking and Leveraging: Resources for Entrepreneurs offered a forum for entrepreneurs and service providers to start an open dialogue with each other. Entrepreneurs were asked to share their stories with service providers and to share what gaps existed in obtaining information. That event served as a springboard for the creation of a regional website for entrepreneurs – www.tristateentrepreneur.com.

The website is an online tool for people looking to start a business in the tri-state region. Service providers are listed by service and by state. The Task Force also hosted Survival Techniques During an Economic Downturn, a moderated forum for entrepreneurs to share ideas, problems and solutions with each other. The Task Force recently celebrated Entrepreneurial Stories at the 2009 Tri-State Development Summit. Three companies shared their stories with more than 250 attendees of the Tri-State Development Summit as they built and grew their businesses in our region.

Adams County modified a publication and printed 1,000 copies of Where to Go for What: Navigating Business Services in Adams County, IL. The publication is a directory of local entrepreneurial coaching services for starting a business in Adams 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 Entrepreneurship Center in Quincy, has been given to rural Adams County bankers, shared with all the economic development professionals in Adams County and has been sent to the business realtors in the Quincy area.