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From l-r, WIU-QC Vice President of Operations Kristi Mindrup, WIU President Guiyou Huang, Rep. Cheri Bustos, IIRA Executive Director Chris Merrett, WIU-QC SBDC Business Adviser Maria Ramos and WIU-QC SBDC Assistant Director Ann Friederichs.
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IIRA to Assist More QC-Based Start-Ups Thanks to Federal Grant

April 25, 2022

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – For more than 32 years, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University has helped prospective small businesses across west central and central Illinois get their footing, providing resources such as financial advice, business planning and more. Thanks to a new federal grant, initiated by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, the IIRA is receiving $400,000 to provide additional services for small business start-ups in the Quad Cities region.

Bustos was on the WIU-Quad Cities campus April 21 to present the ceremonial check to the IIRA and WIU. The IIRA's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on the Moline campus will use the new federal 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.

"This new program helps us expand a business's value by coming up with plans for updates to software or facilities, which can make selling a business easier when, or if, the time comes," said IIRA Director Chris Merrett. "These businesses, particularly family-owned businesses, might have a problem laying out a succession plan, and that's where we can help. In underserved communities and rural communities, it's vital for a small business to have a succession plan in place to help maintain a healthy business sector."

In addition to the succession plans, the SBDC will increase its emphasis on minority, women and immigrant entrepreneurs, and assist existing businesses expand through procurement to local, state and federal government agencies, Merrett added.

"We greatly appreciate the support we have received from Rep. Bustos and Sen. Duckworth to provide enhanced services and programs to entrepreneurs in the region," he said. "We stand ready to assist small businesses grow and succeed."

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