University of Illinois EDA University Center

The University of Illinois Economic Development Association (EDA) University Center exists to promote and foster entrepreneurship in Illinois south of Interstate-80. The program’s mission is to create a growing pipeline of long-term innovative and vibrant business activity within the region through entrepreneur education, startup assistance, incubation, and growth support and investment. Small businesses south of I-80 can tap into this resource and have access to project assistance. Additionally, projects should have a referral partner within the defined geographic, downstate region.


EDA Services

  • Small Business Assistance for qualified entrepreneurs through the Shared Services program. This assists entrepreneurs with short-term projects related to marketing, business development, branding, and communications.
  • Expertise from the University of Illinois Department of Urban Planning and EnterpriseWorks incubator to provide assistance to communities seeking to strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystem and add resources for startup companies. Assistance can be in the form of site visits, sharing of best practices from other comparable communities, and feasibility planning for new programs.

Project Examples

  • Logo design and visual branding
  • Defined market research and assessment
  • Pitch deck review
  • Company name search
  • Social media strategy review.

Referral Partners

  • An incubator
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • International Trade Center (ITC)
  • Illinois University Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
  • University of Illinois Extension Offices


This program is supported by federal grant funding from the United States Economic Development Administration. For more information, please contact us at or 217-333-8324.

Small Business Assistance Application
Cheri Soliday
Outreach Coordinator, Incubation and Entrepreneurship

Cheri coordinates projects related to the EDA funded programs.