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Delavan Creating a Climate to Support Entrepreneurship

This article was originally published on September 10, 2012 and expired on September 17, 2012. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

During lunch at the Harvest Cafe, downtown Delavan, community leaders had an opportunity to visit with owner Libby Mathers.
During lunch at the Harvest Cafe, downtown Delavan, community leaders had an opportunity to visit with owner Libby Mathers.

Local governments can and do play a fundamental role in encouraging economic development. In the new economy, local leaders are turning to entrepreneurship as a core economic development strategy. In our region, and the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Extension Unit in particular, there are a number of communities who are actively engaged in these strategies. With U of I Extension's help, these communities are sharing lessons learned along the way.

On June 27, Delavan hosted a community exchange where local leaders from Chillicothe, Elmwood, Farmington, Havana, Knoxville, Lewistown and Mason City discovered entrepreneurship development strategies being utilized.

The focus in Delavan is on downtown design and economic restructuring. Their plan works to create a well designed Main Street. Paying attention to the downtown physical shape creates a safe, inviting environment for shoppers, workers, and visitors. An appealing atmosphere, created through attention to all of these visual elements, conveys a positive message about the commercial district and what it has to offer. Design activities also include:

Economic restructuring strengthens a community's existing economic assets while diversifying its economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding successful businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of business owners, and attracting new businesses that the market can support. Converting unused or underused commercial space into economically productive property also helps boost the profitability of the district. The goal is to build a commercial district that responds to the needs of today's consumers.

Understanding the components of an entrepreneurial environment is just the first step in helping a community become more entrepreneurial. To explore these concepts in more depth, visit University of Illinois Extension website Building Entrepreneurial Communities: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/buildingec/.

For more information about the Community and Economic Development programs in the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Extension unit, please contact Kathleen Brown, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development at brownlk@illinois.edu or 309-255-9189.

Source: Kathie Brown, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development, brownlk@illinois.edu

Pull date: September 17, 2012

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