U of I Extension Announces Opening of
Community Innovation Center in Harrisburg

Ronald Duncan, Extension Community and Economic Development Educator

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University of Illinois Extension announces the launch of a “first of its kind” Community Innovation Center (CIC) in Harrisburg today.

Working under a program initiative launched by a partnership among University of Illinois Extension, the Dean of ACES, the Office of the Provost and the College of Business, the CIC is designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with the knowledge and tools to take a concept from the “idea” phase all the way to a completed prototype.

“Start-up ‘accelerators’ or business incubators are not something new”, says Ronald Duncan, Extension Educator and CIC Director, “but this is different. It is designed to work with people who want to explore the development of a product design or test an idea before launching out on their own”. The CIC is unique in that combines state of the art tools and equipment, such as 3D printers, modeling and design software, and computer controlled wood and metal shaping equipment, within an environment that is open to the public. “Very few communities have access to this type of equipment and learning environment,” says Connie Beck, Saline County Extension Director.  “It is rare for a town the size of Harrisburg to have this type of opportunity. It points to the benefit that can come from educational institutions, local governments and private entities working together to make things happen.”

Earlier this year, the Saline County Board approved the use of a small office setting at its Feazel Street operations that served as the springboard for the current CIC development site at 1003 North Main, in Harrisburg. “The key to our success has been the partnerships we have developed, especially the one with ITG3D,” says Duncan. ITG3D is a local non-profit organization, dedicated to the training and education of the community in new and developing technologies. Jim McCuan, a Saline county resident and CEO for ITG3D pointed to the need for a facility like the CIC in his recent comments to Extension leadership, “Our access to business development tools through U of I and the College of Business round out the offering to the community that ITG3D can make.”

The Center will celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Friday, June 23rd at 1:30 p.m. at 1003 North Main St. Everyone is encouraged to stop in during operational hours and check out what the Center offers.

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