Rich Egger’s guests on Emphasis are Cesar Suarez, Ryan Lilly, and Eric Dilts. They talk about the Sustainable Business Center in Galesburg.
Suarez is the city’s economic development director, Lilly is manager of the Entrepreneurship Center of West Central Illinois (which is located at the SBC), and Dilts is the sustainability director at the SBC.
Dilts said the SBC is a business incubator.
“What we do is we help nurture and mentor young companies who are starting off. We help them grow and build. Being the Sustainable Business Center, we focus on green, innovative companies. Environmental entrepreneurs, we like to say,” Dilts said.
Five companies are currently working out of the SBC and there is room for more.
Suarez said the city is trying to put forth a new way for doing economic development.
“Our mission is creating a new economy together, one that’s prepared for the 21st Century,” Suarez said.
“An economy that’s going to be very agile, one that can respond to the globalization and technology changes that we’re faced with in our economy.”
Suarez said the SBC tries to grow local talent and companies that can be flexible and globally competitive.
Lilly said he works one-on-one with the companies in the incubator. He provides business planning services. He’s also been working to provide job opportunities for young people who might otherwise leave for jobs in larger cities.
“I think a great example of that is Sitka Salmon Shares. This was a company that originated out of the Environmental Studies Program at Knox College,” Lilly said.
“Every employee of this company is a Knox College student. I just think it’s great to see that involvement from our local educational institutions and it’s a nice kind of transfer from education into our business sector.”
The SBC is also home to the restaurant En Season, which is considered a showcase for sustainable agriculture. The restaurant, which is open to the public, serves only what is in season. All of the food comes from local producers and the produce is grown without pesticides or other chemicals.
The kitchen is also available for rent to culinary entrepreneurs.