Each semester I try to have as a guest speaker at least one “entrepreneurial facilitator”; an organization existing to provide assistance to entrepreneurs (and often other types of businesses).
We had our first such guest yesterday in class; The Knox Country Area Partnership for Economic Development. Visiting were three employees of the firm: Ken Springer, Kyle Kelley, and 2016 Monmouth College graduate Kate Rees.
Class blogger Jazmin Barajas tells us all about The Partnership and what it does for entrepreneurs below.
Many of the people who have come to visit our classroom have been entrepreneurs that have started their own local business near Monmouth, IL. However, Thursday evening the Midwest Entrepreneurs Class got the pleasure to meet some people who are “behind” the entrepreneur’s startup and success. Ken Springer, Kyle Kelley and Kate Rees, who are part of “The Knox Country Area Partnership for Economic Development,” spoke to our class about how they help entrepreneurs start their dream business in Galesburg and the Knox County region.
Below is some information from The Partnership’s webpage (http://www.knoxpartnership.com/) about each of our guests and about how the Partnership operates.
- Springer is the President of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. He was born in West Michigan and earned a bachelor of science degree in International Relations from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in Applied Community and Economic Development from the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University. He was the Vice President of the Bloomington-Normal Area Economic Development Council which gave him the knowledge he needed to become the President of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. He was the first choice for the Board of Directors.
- Kelley is the Client Manager for the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. He was born in Galesburg however, worked in Peoria, IL in the banking industry for four years which he has brought a sales skillset to the Partnership and not only that but he works with small business.
- Rees is the Communications Associate for the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. She was born in Chicago, IL suburbs and graduated from Monmouth College with a degree in Public Relations, Communications, and Art, which her skills in marketing and graphic design bring creativity to the Partnership’s digital and social presence.
- Which all the knowledge and job experience that they have they have been able to manage and run the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development since the hiring of Mr. Springer in December 2014.
About the Knox County Area Partnership
- It is a private non-profit organization that helps with economic development to Galesburg and the Knox County region. they are a professional, non-partisan, non-political organization whose goal is the promotion of job growth, new investment and a better quality of life for the communities of Galesburg and the Knox County region.
The Partnership is a private non-profit organization; therefore, they get a lot of help from many private and public-sector investors which in total are 50 investors (5-6 are private and the rest are public). Some of those include: Ameren, Bullis and Sundberg Insurance Services, Carl Sandburg College, City of Galesburg, First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust, Galesburg Cottage Hospital, Hy-Vee, Knox College, Knox County, Midwest Bank (of Western Illinois), Mustain Law Office, and OSF St. Mary Medical Center.
In class… Thursday evening our guests talked to the Midwest Entrepreneurs Class about how they help entrepreneurs start their own business, or how to save an existent business from closing in Galesburg and the Knox County region. To begin with, the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development has four Priorities:
- Existing Business Expansion and Support Funds
- New Business Recruitment (bring in new companies to the area)
- Community Importance
However, they focused their discussion on number 3; Entrepreneurship. Here they have four ways to assist projects, which are in order from easies to hardest:
- Advisement (sitting down and talking to the entrepreneurs: Basic Information, market demographics).
- Site choice (help the company find the right location for their business).
- Successful Referral (help connect business to SCORE, a small business of mentors that help clients start their business: handles cash flow, local economy).
- Incentives (help borrow money from the bank than talks to city council who makes the decision to whether it happens or not).
They also provided us three examples of projects that show use how they work and what they do.
Judy’s Tumbling: Helped them find a better location than the mall in Galesburg giving them the chance to stay operation which created capital space. They also helped them partner with another business making them help each other grow. We were told the company chose the sixth location that the Partnership helped them look at.
New Restaurant (not able to disclose name yet): The Partnership helped them get a loan, find a location, referred business and marketing plan assistance to SBDS, and target to open no later than early June 2017).
Integrated Precision Agriculture: Help them obtain the forgivable loan of $10,000 from the city to start their business of using drones to spay fields. Also, helped them obtain all the licenses and permits that they need it to operate.
The Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development is a free service for whoever wants to start or save their business in Galesburg and the Knox County region. They are the people who have the answers to questions you have about becoming an entrepreneur.
The Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development is an organization that is 100% confidential, which means any information shared with them cannot be shared with anybody but with you. They can also choose who they can work with if they don’t see any future.
If you want to become an entrepreneur or change your business visit the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development; they have a book—and minds—full of ideas that they are sure will help you become a successful business in the area.
Thank you Mr. Springer, Mr. Keeley and Ms. Rees!