East Central Illinois University Center
Rantoul Business Incubator now open
The Rantoul Business Incubator, a new resource for local entrepreneurs offering a suite of support services, is now open.
Located within the Rantoul Business Center, it is a service of the East Central Illinois University Center, a partnership among local educational institutions and business development resources to promote and foster entrepreneurship in the region.
“This community incubator will leverage resources that we have developed at EnterpriseWorks to nurture startups and grow existing businesses,” said Laura Frerichs, the director of the UI Research Park. “We are excited to offer these services in Rantoul and continue to build on entrepreneurship in that area.”
The East Central Illinois University Center is a partnership among EnterpriseWorks (the incubator at the Research Park), the UI College of Business, Parkland College, the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., the village of Rantoul and the Rantoul Business Center, and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.
WILL looks at local food movement
The growing movement to eat food grown in Central Illinois is the focus of a day of programming on WILL-AM (580) and WILL-TV on July 19. It’s the third special day of programming in the WILL Connect series focusing on issues in Central Illinois.
At 8 p.m., WILL-TV presents “C-U Digging Into Local Food” in partnership with CU-CitizenAccess.org. The live, studio-based discussion will center on local food production efforts and consumption of locally produced food in Champaign-Urbana. Video stories will look at Urbana’s Market at the Square, a producer-only market that serves as a gateway for those interested in the local food movement by directly connecting shoppers to producers; Champaign’s Randolph Street Community Garden, where a younger set of gardeners grow relationships, life skills and economic opportunities with their work on Randolph Street; and efforts under way to start cooking classes in Champaign-Urbana on how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.
Earlier in the day at 10 a.m., WILL-AM’s “Focus” looks at finding food in farm country, with discussion about farming in Central Illinois and movements to build economic recovery through local food systems.
At 11 a.m., “Focus” highlights eating well affordably, with Linda Watson, author of “Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy and Save the Planet – All on $5 a Day or Less.”
At 7:30 p.m. on WILL-TV, “Home Fields: Digging Into Local Food,” produced by Nebraska Educational Television, will explore the local food movement in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska and its future as a sustainable industry. Reporter/producer Clay Masters looks through the lens of Midwest producers, consumers, grocery store owners, restaurateurs and researchers to understand how local food networks operate.
C-U seeks to expand broadband
The Champaign-Urbana community has entered a competition to continue building one of the fastest broadband Internet networks in the U.S. Local leaders are preparing a bid proposal for Champaign-Urbana to be one of six communities nationwide to split $200 million in funding from Gigabit Squared, an economic development firm that specializes in building broadband networks through its collaboration with Gig. U, the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project.
The communities selected will receive funding to expand broadband connectivity by building fiber-to-the-premises infrastructure. This would give all homes and businesses in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy the ability to connect to the local ultra-high-speed network. In order to increase the chances of being selected as one of the winning communities, as many residents and businesses in Champaign-Urbana as possible need to declare their interest in subscribing to open access broadband service through Gigabit Squared by July 30. Residents can participate by committing a minimum of $100 toward the $500 consumer installation fee and committing to a one-year service contract with Gigabit Squared. Businesses also are encouraged to participate by committing $200 toward the $1,000 commercial installation fee. The fees would be refunded if the project does not get funded.
The infrastructure for ultra-high-speed connectivity has already been laid in 11 census blocks across both cities as part of the UC2B project, an intergovernmental consortium that includes the UI, Urbana and Champaign and is dedicated to building and operating an open-access fiber-optic broadband network throughout the area. With 2,500 homes and 200 community organizations connecting to UC2B, the network will be one of the largest connected at gigabit speeds in the nation. The network also will make Champaign-Urbana an appealing location for researchers and entrepreneurs to create and test next-generation applications.
“Gigabit Squared has opened the door to a great opportunity to build out the UC2B network,” said Jon Gant, a professor of library and information science at the UI and a researcher on the UC2B project.
To sign up, residents should visit www.uc2b.net/expansion or call 217-366-UC2B. Neighborhoods will be connected in order of how many residents have committed to service. People can prioritize their connection by paying more.