Economic Gardening Program

Economic Gardening Program

Supporting Second-Stage Entrepreneurs

Local businesses are a critical part of the Northwest Illinois community. In fact, second stage companies - small businesses that have moved beyond the startup phase - have represented about 17% of all U.S. companies over the past decade, but they’ve generated about 37% of jobs. Existing small businesses are the economic drivers of our region: they innovate and expand into national and global markets, bringing outside revenues back home to our part of Illinois.

That’s why Whiteside County Economic Development and Enterprise Zone is proud to offer the Northwest Illinois Economic Gardening Network to our local entrepreneurs. The program is designed to jumpstart existing businesses and give them the resources they need to accelerate their growth. Second-stage companies face different challenges than startups or large enterprise, and the Economic Gardening Network provides these business owners with strategic information customized to help them solve problems and identify new opportunities.

Economic Gardening is a free program helping entrepreneurs grow their business

What to Expect

Challenges You’ll Be Helped With: Identifying and prioritizing sales leads and business opportunities, refining your core strategies and business model, and using social media to connect with customers and create buzz about your products and services.

Time Investment: Businesses accepted into the program will spend eight to 12 hours collaborating with a research team designed to help them. The team, in turn, will spend additional time behind the scenes working on specific issues.

Fees: There is no fee to the business. Costs are covered by the Whiteside County Economic Development Department and local EDO partners.

Logistics: Entrepreneurs don’t even have to leave the office. All communications are handled over the phone and on an online portal where a secure workspace is assigned to each company.

Who Should Apply?

Eligible companies must:

  • Be a for-profit, privately-held company that has been headquartered in Whiteside, Carroll, or Jo Daviess County for at least the past two years.
  • Generate annual revenue or working capital of between $750,000 and $50 million.
  • Employ between six and 99 full-time employees.
  • Demonstrate growth in employment and/or revenue during two of the past five years.
  • Provide products or services beyond the local area to regional, national, or global markets.

How to Get Started

  1. Call 815-772-5247 to schedule an introductory program call with Gary Camarano, Executive Director of Whiteside County Economic Development.
  2. Complete an online application. Among other things, you’ll be asked to submit revenue and employment numbers for the past five years. You’ll also be asked to list strategic business issues you want help with.
  3. Someone will contact you within 24 hours of submitting your application.
  4. Your application will be reviewed by a selection team.
  5. Once accepted into the program, you’ll be contacted to schedule an interview with a research team.

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