Hillsboro Development Corporation and Hillsboro Ventures Inc. are in the early stages of developing a long-term strategy for economic development.
Hillsboro is one of seven communities participating in the Kansas Entrepreneurial Communities Initiative. The program, administered by HDC/HVI, is intended to assess the current business climate, identify opportunities for development, and create a strategy for that development, HDC/HVI Executive Director Clint Seibel said Friday.
Hillsboro is in the orientation and assessment phase of the project, with Seibel and HDC/HVI board members participating in online seminars. When those are completed, HDC/HVI will try to identify business opportunities in Hillsboro. Those could include opportunities for existing businesses to expand or for brand new ventures, Seibel said.
Then, HDC/HVI will put together a strategy for how Hillsboro can rise to those opportunities. The organization will also implement the strategy and evaluate progress every three years, Seiebel said.
The program comes on the heels of HDC/HVI implementing an entrepreneurship community program. The groups sold tax credits, raising $300,000 to make loans for business start-ups and expansions.
“2010 was really the year we developed our e-community programs,” Seibel said.
The e-community fund made four loans in 2010, totaling $96,540, in partnership with banks. Those loans helped three businesses begin and another expand, Seibel said. To qualify for those loans, an entrepreneur must have a business plan.
After receiving a loan, a business can receive ongoing consultation from South Central Kansas Economic Development District, he said.
“It’s not only a start-up,” Seibel said. “It’s an ongoing process.”
In 2011, HDC/HVI continues to work on a mix of business recruitment, expansion, and entrepreneurship. Seibel cited a study from the University of Kansas that said communities on average spend $50 on business recruitment for every $1 spent on entrepreneurship, despite the fact that entrepreneurship accounts for a majority of job creation.
One ongoing project is the search for businesses that would be good candidates to move into the Hillsboro Furniture building, he said.