EnterpriseWorks Receives 5-Year Continuation of EDA University Center Grant

Categories : EnterpriseWorks, Recognition & Awards
Posted on: October 1, 2021

EnterpriseWorks Receives EDA Grant To Continue Supporting Entrepreneurship at Illinois Universities

The grant from the EDA will continue to support development of higher education entrepreneurial ecosystems across Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, IL, September 30, 2021 — The EnterpriseWorks incubator at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, has been awarded a five-year grant of $70,000 per year from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) to advance incubators and entrepreneurial ecosystems associated with higher education across Illinois.

The new award will enable EnterpriseWorks to continue providing assistance to other higher education incubators and entrepreneurial spaces located across Illinois.

The grant will fund leadership and management for the Illinois University Incubator Network (IUIN), which was seeded by the EDA Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (2016-2021). The IUIN provides a robust array of events and services that aim to strengthen university-related entrepreneurship activities and resources by sharing resources, best practices, and programming among members of the statewide incubator ecosystem.

Specific examples of resource sharing include relevant trainings, disseminating documents and information about leases, applications, program structures; benchmarking data; and fostering collaboration on grant funding opportunities.

“The University of Illinois EDA University Center specializes in providing support for incubation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development projects in Illinois with a primary focus on serving downstate communities,” said Laura Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois Research Park and director of economic development at the University of Illinois.  “The Center facilitates support and programming for existing incubators with an eye towards expanding entrepreneurship capacity, programming, services, and resources for technology-driven businesses. EnterpriseWorks is looking forward to working with supporting and advancing entrepreneurship across the state of Illinois.”

The new five-year grant adds technical assistance and support for Economic Development Districts (EDDs) and community economic development groups in rural and underrepresented communities in Illinois. This will include the development of a referral network to aid with resources available through UI Extension, SBDCs, SBA FAST Center, regional economic development organizations, and other University resources. One of its goals is to and develop “roadmaps” as examples of successful programs developed by other Illinois communities that are aiding in economic gardening, which leverage existing assets in communities, build unique attractions, and small business support.

For more information about the EDA University Center at the University of Illinois Urbana -Champaign, contact Cheri Soliday.