Long-planned COD accelerator nearly ready
Some projects just take longer: Remodeling the bathroom. New cabinets for the kitchen. Painting the living room. Wallpaper anyplace. Getting Innovation DuPage's space in downtown Glen Ellyn ready for its January opening. (That opening was scheduled for the January we recently finished, in case you were wondering.)
"I probably (underestimated) the time it would take to get everyone's board on board," admits Joe Cassidy, assistant vice president, economic development and dean, continuing education and public services at College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn.
More importantly for this morning, on a practical basis Cassidy seems to be the leading force behind Innovation DuPage -- and if remodeling of what was once the police department headquarters in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center and getting a group of participating organizations that range in this abbreviated list from Argonne National Laboratory to Benedictine University; Fermilab; Northern Illinois University; the Village of Glen Ellyn; Indiana Tech, which more formally is the Indiana Institute of Technology; WorkNet DuPage; several chambers of commerce; and high schools in school districts 200 and 88; and -- well, Cassidy, who also is chair of the Innovation DuPage board of directors, has been busy.
Now there are two new opening dates: May for a soft opening to make certain everything works and June 1 for the official ribbon cutting.
Several things stand out in the Innovation DuPage efforts:
• The goal, as COD President Ann Rondeau states in a web video that explains the Innovation DuPage role, is to provide the types of small business support that will bring additional jobs and, then, strengthened economic health to the broad DuPage community -- and beyond.
• Basically, Cassidy and others say in the same video, the intent is to bring young businesses together with mentors from industry and academia -- and with potential investors.
You can watch the video, which actually provides a good overview of the Innovation DuPage concepts, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwqBZPVx_mk&feature=youtu.be.
• Staff is being hired. In fact, Managing Director Travis Linderman will have been in place for nearly a year by the time the rescheduled opening happens.
• COD is no newcomer to small business education and support. Indeed, Cassidy says, in some ways Innovation DuPage has been in development for 40 years -- efforts that include an Illinois Small Business Development Center, support for businesses seeking to tap the government and international markets and a variety of resources that all will be housed in the Glen Ellyn facility.
Innovation DuPage isn't the only option for entrepreneurs seeking support, both intellectual and financial. Many suburban colleges and a smattering of civic and business organizations provide assistance through Illinois Small Business Development Centers and related programs. There are, in fact, nearly 30 SBDCs within 50 miles of Glen Ellyn.
You can find the list at https://viewer.blipstar.com/blipstar?uid=5161672.
And, of course, there are consultants who can help; some specialize in small business support. Individual consultants can be difficult to find. Look at the member list of your local chamber; talk to the people who run local SBDCs, and ask your peers who they recommend.