The College of DuPage Board of Trustees took its first step toward the possible establishment of an innovation center in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.
During its July 20 meeting, the Board approved a memorandum of understanding to reimburse the Village of Glen Ellyn for preliminary architectural costs up to $24,000 in determining whether 8,500 square feet of space in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center can be renovated. The MOU will yield a preliminary design and cost estimate that the Board of Trustees will use to determine whether the College should pursue the space for an innovation center.
If created, the new initiative -- to be called Innovation DuPage -- would serve as both a business incubator and accelerator that would connect small businesses with the necessary resources to thrive and stimulate job growth.
"Since its establishment 50 years ago, College of DuPage has made a positive impact on workforce and economic development," said College of DuPage President Dr. Ann Rondeau. "We welcome the opportunity to work with Choose DuPage and the Village of Glen Ellyn to create an innovation center with strong public and private partners that will expand our local business base. The center would take what we already do well and offer it through an exciting concept."
In June, the Village of Glen Ellyn approved the authorization of the MOU and a contract with the architectural and engineering firm Dewberry for design services for the space.
Board of Trustees Chairman Deanne Mazzochi said College of DuPage is in a unique position to leverage its knowledge and resources to further promote local economic growth.
"We are happy to explore the possibility of using this central location in downtown Glen Ellyn for a center that could have a tremendous positive impact on DuPage County," Mazzochi said.
Joe Cassidy, Dean of Continuing Education at College of DuPage, said the College has explored the possibility of a center for several years, working over the past months with potential partners Choose DuPage, Rev3, Benedictine University and DuPage Impact, a private investor group, in developing concepts.
College of DuPage has a history of working with local businesses through the establishment of the Business and Professional Institute (now Business Solution) in 1979 and the Center for Workforce Development (now the Center for Entrepreneurship) in 1984. In FY15 and FY16, the Center for Entrepreneurship helped small- and medium-sized businesses close $192 million in contracts, $4.7 million in exports and $9.5 million in capital loans. In FY16 alone, the center served approximately 2,500 business clients.
"Innovation DuPage would build on the success of COD's Center for Entrepreneurship," Cassidy said. "There is a particular need for entrepreneurs in Illinois. The Kaufman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship ranks Illinois 17th among the top 25 most populous states. Greater DuPage has a diverse industry base, venture capital is strong, and yet we have to actively work in a collaborative and focused way to advance our innovation ecosystem in order to grow business and jobs. College of DuPage has a history of success in the area of business development and Innovation DuPage would build on this solid foundation."