NW Illinois Economic Development Launches Its Largest-Ever Small Business Course 

Article by: Emily Legel

NW Illinois Economic Development (NWILED) launched its largest-ever Build It Grow It class in January.  The CEDA team member serving the NWILED contract, Emily Legel, organized the event from finding locations, registering attendees, doing publicity, speaking about the event at area business meetings and door to door discussions.  Over thirty-two individuals from twenty-five businesses attended sessions in Galena and Fulton, Illinois, learning about the Growth Wheel and different types of financing for their business. With participating industries ranging from retail and hospitality to fitness and non-profit, attendees range from a newly created start-up to more established companies from Galena and every life cycle stage in between.  

Thanks to generous donations from NW Illinois businesses and communities, area businesses are able to learn about topics from organization and employee issues to networking and sales to differentiating themselves in their market. A weekly marketing email and private Facebook community are also included with the course. Attendees also get the option of free one-on-one counseling sessions with Brian McIntyre, a certified business appraiser and licensed business counselor, a value of over $900 per session, and the course will end with a pitch competition where participants can win $1000 for an expansion effort.

“NWILED exists to help businesses in NW Illinois grow. When we had to move the Galena location due to an outpouring of interest, I knew we were getting somewhere. In the past 6 months alone, I’ve seen the program grow and develop, and based on the turnout we saw in January, I have no doubt we’re on the right track,” stated Legel.

This is the sixth time this program has been offered, with several alumni crediting the course with their success. One returning business owner mentioned a dramatic increase in sales in the year following the program, with another returning business owner mentioning how the private counseling sessions pushed her to expand from a home-based business to a storefront. For more information on the course or to sign up for future sessions, please visit www.nwiled.org/build-it-grow-it.php or contact the office at [email protected]