$400,000 WIU-QC small business grant celebrated

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos delivered a symbolic $400,000 check to the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University Quad Cities (WIU-QC) to help it promote business startups, sustainability and transitions.

The federal community project funding secured by Ms. Bustos, D-Moline, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, was announced in March and celebrated Thursday, April 21, at the WIU-QC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on the Moline campus.

“Three years ago, I gathered community leaders from throughout the district I serve and held roundtables to hear directly from them about their local economies,” Ms. Bustos said on Thursday. “And at each of these roundtables, I heard stories about local small business owners who needed help. While we may be on the path to recovery, there is still a lot more we have to do. That’s why I’m so proud to be able to present this check for $400,000 to Western Illinois Quad Cities’ campus to expand its small business programming to help local small businesses find success.”

In the March news release announcing the funding, WIU-QC said, the SBDC at the WIU-QC campus will use those dollars to ensure small businesses have solid succession plans and are primed to succeed. “In the Quad Cities region, the WIU-QC-based SBDC has provided numerous programs and resources for start-up and minority-owned businesses in that area,” the university said.

The funds will be used to help create new small businesses in the region and help existing businesses develop succession plans to extend their longevity in the community. 

“This new program will help us maximize a business’s value by coming up with plans for updates to software or facilities which makes selling a business easier when and if the time comes,” IIRA Director Chris Merrett said in the earlier announcement. 

“Often, those businesses we call ‘anchor’ businesses, like family-owned pharmacies or hardware stores, struggle with succession plans, and in underserved communities and rural communities, it may be hard to find a buyer,” he said. “When a business owner leaves behind their business, it’s important to have a succession plan so it can continue to thrive. A strong business sector in a rural community is essential for the ongoing economic health of that community, and this funding will allow us to provide even greater services.”

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