About the Initiative

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In 2007, University of Illinois Extension received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Community Development Initiative to launch a new program to strengthen local capacity to successfully undertake projects in community and economic development, with a particular emphasis on building entrepreneurial communities. The Extension Project Team worked hard to develop local capacity to implement this initiative – several members of the team participated in an Energizing Entrepreneurship Training Institute to gain new tools for community leaders; we looked at research and practice across the country to identify model practices and concepts to share with community leaders in the state.

University of Illinois Extension targeted an underserved region of western Illinois and brought training and technical assistance to Adams, Brown, Cass, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, Pike, Schuyler and Warren counties economic development organizations to help them create the community infrastructure needed to support entrepreneurial development.

One thing that was confirmed through this process is that each region is unique, with different assets on which to build. No two regions chose to follow the same path; yet all the teams celebrated some success in bringing a stronger focus and commitment to entrepreneurship development. In addition to working with University of Illinois Extension, the community teams networked with each other – sharing both their successes and challenges. This web resource highlights what we learned throughout this initiative and provides some examples of community investments in entrepreneurship. We encourage you to learn more about what these communities did to become more entrepreneurial by clicking on the links below.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities