Build it • Grow it

Resources to Grow

Through NW Illinois Economic Development's innovative Build it • Grow it program, entrepreneurs find knowledge and confidence to build their businesses through the shared experiences of other business owners, and under the guidance of an expert in small business management. Our program combines special educational sessions and private, confidential consultations with an expert business professional. Open your mind to the practical and time-tested strategies that will propel the disciplined entrepreneur to new heights of success.

Business owners who follow the Build it • Grow it plan learn the strategies and discipline necessary to respond to market challenges, take advantage of opportunities, operate a professional organization, and grow their team.

Build it • Grow it uses proven entrepreneurial tools to make you a better, more successful, business owner.
  • We use a proprietary tool, the GrowthWheel®, to examine all critical aspects of a business – business concept, customer relations, operations and organization etc. and devise action plans to address the business's immediate needs.
  • What's your moneymaker? Using the 5 Disciples of MarketingTM you'll learn the objective process of marketing and focus your promotional dollars.
  • Have an existing business you want to grow? FastTrac® by the Kauffman Foundation provides the support you need.

Private consulting sessions with an expert in small business development are available monthly by appointment. Want to sample the Build it • Grow it experience?

Education and consulting sessions are held in two locations:

All Businesses: GrowthWheel® and the 5 Disciplines of Marketing

This 10-month program is designed for new and existing businesses that wish to quickly troubleshoot their business needs and to learn about the process of marketing. Class meets on the second Thursday of the month from January through October, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. at Riverport Railroad, 2226 Main Ave., Savanna, IL. There is no charge for each 1.5 hour education session and consulting is free. Coffee and breakfast treats are provided.

Established Businesses: FastTrac Growth, Kauffman Foundation

This intensive 10-month program is designed for existing businesses looking to grow. Class meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from January through October, 8:00 to 11:00 a.m., DeSoto House Hotel, 230 S. Main Street, Galena, IL. Up to two hours of work outside of class will be required each month. $400 for 10, 3-hour education sessions; $100 for 400+-page spiral-bound workbook; consulting is free.


"As a small business owner, you often feel secluded and alone in your business. It's hard to know what the best next step is for your business and sometimes even harder to know if the step you're taking is the right one. What NWILED is creating is an environment that fosters strong business foundations, confidence within business owners, and a focus on growth."

Cathy & Jeff West, Unposed Photography

"In the few short months that we have been attending the program, the sessions have helped us come up with new ideas for our store, better ways to run our business, and helped us network with other local businesses. The NWILED Build It - Grow It program is by far the most productive and beneficial business program we've participated in over the past 5 years. It is a great program that can help strengthen any business. More successful businesses can help in building a thriving community."

Alana Turner and Traci Lyden, Poopsie's

Join our Build it • Grow it businesses! For more information email or call 815-858-4491.

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Annual Seed Money Competition

Regional businesses compete for $1,000 in seed money to launch a new product or service. Build it • Grow it participants judge presentations on the concept and the plan to execute. NW Illinois Investors can attend the event free of charge August 9, 2018, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m. at the Moose Lodge, 125 Main Street, Savanna, IL.

Entrepreneurial Scholarships

Promoting entrepreneurial students is important for our communities. We offer opportunities for students who are considering opening a business to earn cash to research their dream product or service.