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“Tough economic times can be great times for an entrepreneur,” Kellogg Professor Steven Rogers told entrepreneurs at a Small Business Incubator information session on Jan. 27. “Half of Fortune 500 companies were founded in tough economic times.”

“Tough economic times can be great times for an entrepreneur,” Kellogg Professor Steven Rogers told entrepreneurs at a Small Business Incubator information session on Jan. 27. “Half of Fortune 500 companies were founded in tough economic times.”

An economic boon for Edgewater

The Larry & Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice partners with a Chicago neighborhood to develop local entrepreneurs

By Amy Trang

2/11/2011 - If the economy is going to be rescued, Professor Steven Rogers believes that small-business owners are the ones who will save the day.

“Entrepreneurs are the heroes and she-roes of our nation,” said Rogers, the Gordon and Llura Gund Family Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship. “They do good for society by doing good for themselves. Instead of taking a job, they make a job.”

These inspirational words kicked off the Small Business Incubator (SBI) program, a new partnership between the Kellogg School’s Larry & Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and the Edgewater Development Corporation. From applying for a city business license to leasing a space, the SBI will educate budding entrepreneurs every step of the way. The incubator’s goal is to boost economic growth by supporting entrepreneurship in Chicago’s 48th Ward, which encompasses the Edgewater neighborhood in the northern area of the city.

“Tough economic times can be great times for an entrepreneur,” said Rogers, addressing an audience of nearly 75 entrepreneurs at an SBI information session on Jan. 27. “Half of Fortune 500 companies were founded in tough economic times.”

Participants will attend a 15-week entrepreneurial training course taught by the Kellogg School. The course will cover subjects such as writing a business plan, conducting market research and navigating business laws. The Edgewater Development Corp. hopes the incubator will help to build a strong network of small-business owners in the community.

“The Small Business Incubator will help you move from concept to customers,” said Tina Travlos Nihlean, president of the Edgewater Development Corp. “This is the right place and the right time to provide this far-reaching support. We are addressing a real interest in our neighborhood.”

After they complete the training course, entrepreneurs also will be eligible for economic incentives and assistance in finding affordable lease space. They also will have access to additional leadership workshops and classes.

If the initiative is successful in Edgewater, the Levy Institute plans to replicate the program in other Chicago neighborhoods.

“We want to do everything we can to help entrepreneurs succeed,” Rogers said. “We want to be part of the solution to the problem.”

For more information about the Small Business Incubator, please visit edgewaterdev.org.