EIGERlab now part of Rockford Area Economic Development Council
From press release
EIGERlab, the entrepreneurship center for advanced technology at 605 Fulton Ave., Rockford, will become part of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC).
The action was announced at a news conference at EIGERlab by representatives of EIGERlab, RAEDC and Rock Valley College (RVC). The RAEDC intends to assume the assets from the parent company of EIGERlab, Rockford Area Ventures (RAV), and to provide strategic direction and marketing for the entrepreneurship center. RAEDC intends to contract program management to RVC.
It was also announced that RAEDC and RAV have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The two groups are conducting due diligence to determine if the asset transfer can take place. The process is expected to take about two months.
As part of the process, RAEDC has applied for a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit status for a new entity named Rockford Area Strategic Initiatives (RASI). The assets of RAV will be transferred to RASI.
A second Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between RAEDC and RVC to develop the contract for program management. Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP are assisting RAEDC with the transactions.
Upon completion of the proposed transfer, the RAV board of directors will be dissolved and the programs and services of EIGERlab will continue with direction from RAEDC and programming by RVC. The strategic change includes TECHWORKS Training Center, located at EIGERlab, which has recently expanded training and certification opportunities for companies from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). The institute is the nation’s only American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited developer of precision manufacturing skill standards and competency assessments. NIMS certifies individual skills against standards and accredits programs that meet its quality requirement. NIMS stakeholders represent more than 6,000 American companies.
EIGERlab client pleased
Brad Harrison, founder of Harrison Harmonicas, the only harmonicas made 100 percent in the United States, said: “I’m very pleased at this news, that EIGERlab is now part of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. This will assist EIGERlab and the many services that are here to continue. They are a big help to businesses like me that want to grow but sometimes need technical help.”
Harrison is “incubating” at EIGERlab, after receiving assistance by many EIGERlab programs and services, including Rapid Prototyping, Rock Valley College, Northern Illinois University and more. He won first place in the 2008 FastPitch competition on entrepreneurial potential, sponsored by the Rock River Valley Entrepreneurship Center at EIGERlab. Harrison chose to stay in Rockford after 11 communities in six states recruited him after he won the 2008 State of Illinois Innovation contest. He chose Rockford because he could not find EIGERlab’s equivalent services anywhere else.
Collaboration key to nurturing startups
RAV Board Chairman Don Thayer said: “Some time ago, we identified the RAEDC as an organization that could provide the strategic alliance and support we wanted. To have Rock Valley College also involved makes this partnership even stronger.” Thayer was recently named chief executive officer of Illinois Growth Enterprises.
RAEDC President Janyce Fadden said: “The three organizations are very excited about this collaboration as it will allow EIGERlab to continue its important work for our community’s fledgling entrepreneurs and small businesses, but with the formal support of two long-established institutions. I know that the future will see the three groups working even more closely together. We see this as creating new opportunities for our community’s economic vitality. This should accelerate job creation for entrepreneurs and, thus, for our region.”
RAEDC’s incoming Board Chairman Bill Roop, who led the task force exploring the merger possibility, said: “Supporting the existing businesses in our community is one of our main goals. By making sure that EIGERlab is in a strong position to do what it does well, supporting new and growing businesses that have advanced technology capabilities is an important way to improve the economic strength of our community.”
Rock Valley College President Dr. Jack Becherer added: “What Rock Valley College will provide will be a natural extension of what we currently offer at EIGERlab, enabling us to reach more entrepreneurs at an important point of their startup or growth phase. I know the community will benefit from this type of resource consolidation.”
The primary role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council is to enhance wealth creation in the Rockford region by marketing the area and helping employers retain and create quality jobs. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to serve as a one-stop resource for clients, to improve the competitiveness of the region, and to engage the community in the work of economic development.
Created in 2004, EIGERlab is a research and development center that champions and studies advanced technologies. It also provides startup assistance for entrepreneurs and incubator space in the facility, 605 Fulton Ave., Rockford. In 2009, TECHWORKS training center was added to the family of services at EIGERlab.
Rock Valley College
Rock Valley College is a two-year community college in Rockford that serves 7,500 students in six counties. It also holds continuing education classes at more than 50 sites throughout its district, and operates employment and training programs at another facility.
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