SPRINGFIELD -- In recognition of National Small Business Week, Governor George H. Ryan today lauded the contributions entrepreneurs make to the Illinois economy, released a report on Illinois’ participation in the National Governors’ Association Policy Academy on Entrepreneurship in Illinois, and announced a series of small business workshops around the state.
"Small businesses are the foundation of our state's economy; in fact, nearly 98 percent of Illinois businesses employ fewer than 100 workers," the Governor said. "Small businesses provide jobs for nearly half of all Illinois workers, and they create the majority of new jobs each year in our state. As a former small business owner, I commend Illinois' entrepreneurs on their vision and hard work, and thank them for their contributions in making Illinois first in the nation for business development."
The report released today, “Advancement of Entrepreneurship throughout Illinois,” was the result of the state’s participation in the National Governors’ Association Policy Academy on Entrepreneurship. Illinois was one of ten states invited to be a member of the Academy. The full report can be accessed online at www100.state.il.us/gov/building/entreport02.pdf.
Through the NGA Policy Academy, Illinois was afforded the opportunity to examine Illinois’ current entrepreneurial climate and propose additional opportunities for economic development statewide. To complement existing programming, Illinois developed specific pilot programs to increase access to capital and entrepreneurship education.
These goals build on successful entrepreneurial policies implemented throughout the Ryan administration. An essential part of the VentureTECH initiative called for a significant increase in the availability of venture capital in Illinois. The Illinois Workforce Advantage (IWA is a place-based initiative aimed at strengthening the economic and social infrastructure of depressed communities. Under IWA, Coordinators work with leaders in each community to assess needs, design services and delivery systems and then find ways to fund particular projects, coordinate services with state agencies and develop public private partnerships. Several IWA grants will integrate entrepreneurship education strategies with other community economic development and workforce development initiatives in IWA’s target communities.
The Governor has hosted three small business conferences, bringing together small business owners and representatives to discuss critical issues facing the small business community and make recommendations to address these issues. The Governor also appointed Phyllis Scott to the position of Small Business Advocate, and expanded efforts to assist Illinois small businesses through the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, administered by the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).
"The important role played by small businesses cannot be overemphasized -- particularly in lean economic times," added DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "Small businesses diversify our economy and create opportunities for employment. They also help insulate communities against the devastation that can occur when large industries downsize. That is why DCCA is committed to helping entrepreneurs pursue their dreams by starting and expanding businesses in Illinois."
DCCA's Small Business Office, administered in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, brings together many of the state's business programs to offer Illinois companies a valuable business asset -- resources. In addition to the statewide network of SBDCs which offer general business assistance, DCCA administers a network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, providing assistance to businesses interested in selling to government; International Trade Centers and NAFTA Opportunity Centers, assisting companies in expanding their markets in foreign lands; Small Business Technology Resource Centers, providing information on technology research and development opportunities; and advocacy and targeted assistance to minority and women entrepreneurs, as well as those with disabilities.
A number of special events will be held during Small Business Week to recognize Illinois small businesses and help entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
- May 6 A Business Boot Camp to help entrepreneurs start or expand a business will be held in Lisle, and a Legislative Breakfast and expo is scheduled at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg.
- May 7 Entrepreneurs can attend "Before You Start Your Business," a hands-on workshop on business start-up basics at Joliet Junior College; or attend a Small Business Lender Forum at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIU-C), designed to assist local community bankers in learning about government financing programs and services for small businesses.
- May 8 Activities include a seminar on integrating the Internet into a business process, to be held at SIU-C.
- May 9 Another Small Business Lender Forum is slated in Springfield, and the first of a two-night seminar on legal issues affecting those organizing businesses will be held at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.
- May 10 The week's activities will culminate with a session in Chicago -- "Microenterprise: Building Businesses in a Changed Economy."
For more information about these activities or the various programs and services available to help small businesses start and expand in Illinois, contact DCCA's First Stop Business Information Center at 800/252-2923 (TDD: 800/785-6055) or on the Internet at www.illinoisbiz.biz.