Western Illinois University wants to do more to help the Quad Cities area create new businesses and expand existing companies. In January, the university opened its second Small Business Development Center on its riverfront campus in Moline. Michelle O'Neill reports WIU also opened a new, International Trade Center.
WIU's Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs oversees the centers. And when Director Dr. Chris Merrett learned the Quad Cities no longer had a small business development center, he asked the state for help. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity decided to give WIU a $300,000 grant for the first year.
Here's one success story from the Macomb campus. Its small business development center helped a WIU student get a micro-loan to open a Hookah Lounge in Macomb. The self-employed entrepreneur will be able to graduate debt-free.
Merrett says the International Trade Center on the Moline campus will also benefit businesses and entrepreneurs in the Macomb area.
Two new positions have been created in the Quad Cities, and one has been filled. Michelle Lewis worked at the International Trade Center when it was located at Black Hawk College. She's already started working at Western's Quad Cities campus.