Center to spur economic growth opens in Harrisburg - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Center to spur economic growth opens in Harrisburg

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HARRISBURG -- A new center designed to spur economic development and innovation in Saline County opened Friday. 

University of Illinois Extension, working in conjunction with local government, opened the doors to a Community Innovation Center in Harrisburg.

The goal is to give everyday people the tools to become entrepreneurs.

Ronald Duncan is a community and economic development educator for the University of Illinois Extension. He helped develop the center and says it will help people succeed who never thought they could see their dreams turn into reality.

"We can bring people straight from the street who have an interest in entrepreneurship and making, and treat them to a full suite of computer aided support services," he said.

The center will hold free classes to teach people business basics and give them a chance to see their ideas come to fruition. 

It features technology like 3-D printers that will allow potential entrepreneurs to make prototypes and designs without the huge initial investment many businesses make.

"If they have an idea they're not limited by having to invest in a lot of expensive equipment," said George Czapar, director of extension for the University of Illinois. "We've got the tools that they can use to really try out those ideas"

Duncan says that while other business development projects focus on helping people understand what it takes to run a business in theory, this one will put an actual, tangible, product in their hands.

"Being able to put tools in the hands of people and allowing them to have the full use of those tools so they can improve their own lives, and have a chance to have their own dreams fulfilled," he said.

The center will open for classes on July 1 and will open for production in August.

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