Entrepreneurs find success in Boone County!

Entrepreneurs find success in Boone County! Main Photo

16 Nov 2021


Entrepreneurs are individuals who seek to inject their ideas into a local business community to fill a market gap. They are risk-takers, undertaking their endeavors at significant financial and personal uncertainty. But their actions typically go beyond personal gain, playing a vital role in delivering a healthy and growing community, through job creation and overall economic resiliency.

National Entrepreneur Day is November 16, a perfect time to raise awareness about these enterprising individuals. The knowledge required to start a business, in such disciplines as financing, marketing and advertising, can be overwhelming for a sole person or even a small group of entrepreneurs. Growth Dimensions Economic Development is proud to assist these drivers of economic development with the necessities to achieve success, such as the resources and connections available to them in Boone County.

Entrepreneurial Increase 

This November, the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy reported there were 32,540,953 small businesses in the U.S. Those businesses drove 43.5% of gross domestic product and employed 46.8% of private sector workers! The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed thousands of individuals to put their entrepreneurial ideas to the test by starting their own businesses. The U.S. has seen a surge in business starts, with applications for new ventures increasing 24% in 2020 over 2019, according to data from the Census Bureau. More than 4.3 million business applications were submitted in the country in 2020, with 2021 on track to exceed that number by about one million applications. In comparison, 2010 saw nearly 2.5 million applications, 75% less than 2020.

Illinois was one of the most active states for entrepreneurs in 2020, with 169,864 applications, an amazing increase of 45.1% over the previous year! Boone County had more than 300 business applications in 2020, a 5% increase.

Resources for Entrepreneurs in Boone County

Growth Dimensions Economic Development is proud to offer quality resources to assist small businesses and prospective entrepreneurs. One program is the Venture FastTrac Entrepreneur Training provided through support from the City of Belvidere and the Kauffman Foundation. The world-renowned entrepreneurial education program is a 10-week course led by experienced entrepreneurs. Topics covered include idea generation, business modeling, sales strategy and more. 2021 tuition has been waived and interested entrepreneurs can register here

An extremely unique resource is Innov8 & Cre8, a podcast for entrepreneurs to hear stories from other entrepreneurs and business support organizations. It is a product of Transform Rockford, a collection of individuals, community organizations and local businesses from the area, including Boone County, working together to improve the social and economic well-being of the region. 

Compass, a regional roadmap for aspiring and existing business owners developed through the cooperation of and building on the experience of many regional experts.

The Rockford Region Small Business Development Center supplies technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Individuals can expect confidential business advising, training workshops and professional networking opportunities. 

Accelerating Creatives & Entrepreneurs Conference and Expo is holding its inaugural event on March 2 and 3, 2022. This will give aspiring businesspersons the key parameters needed to start and grow a business, including the necessary connections with other, real individuals who can help with the process.

Educational opportunities for entrepreneurs abound at the universities and community colleges surrounding Boone County. Beyond the various programs of study, several locations offer specific training in entrepreneurship. Rockford’s Rock Valley College’s Associate in Applied Science Business Administration Degree provides education in business leadership principles, including nine credits in entrepreneurship. Just to the south of Boone County in DeKalb is Northern Illinois University and its Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact. Students develop their business skills while learning how to address market gaps while tackling social issues at the same time. Nearby Kishwaukee College offers free Zoom classes for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Financing is commonly a limiting factor for entrepreneurs. Many local and state incentives exist for entrepreneurs that are designed to ease the costs of doing business. The Illinois Department of Commerce’s Advantage Illinois provides entrepreneurs access to necessary capital to start new businesses or expand existing ones. More resources can be found at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  

Support our Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is an exciting, yet daunting adventure. The Boone County community is filled with knowledgeable individuals with fantastic ideas, just seeking the chance to get started. Growth Dimensions Economic Development is grateful for the opportunity to assist these dynamic entrepreneurs as they seek to fulfill their dreams. To learn more about how we can help with every aspect that comes along on that path, email us or call (815) 547 4252.