Last week, the State of Illinois released data indicating that in 2021, 198,827 business startups were created in Illinois, an increase of more than 28,400 from 2020. The number of business startups in 2021 were also 69% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. 2021 saw the highest number of business startups recorded in Illinois since the statistics were first reported in 2004.
This is consistent with what we experienced locally. In 2020, Stephenson County saw 313 business startups, as measured by applications for EIN numbers (the same metric as used in the state’s report.) In 2021, the Greater Freeport Partnership held 33 ribbon cuttings, 20 for new businesses or new ownership of existing businesses. There were numerous other business startups in the county which either did not want or could not schedule a ribbon cutting (including home-based businesses, solo practitioners, etc.)
This entrepreneurial drive is important to Stephenson County. Locally grown businesses, including some of our larger employers such as FHN and Berner Foods, make up the lion’s share of our businesses and employ most of our workers. This is one of the reasons we emphasize supporting entrepreneurs and providing them with access to the resources and information they need to start successfully, grow, and thrive. We have access to some of those resources on our website at greaterfreeport.com/development/entrepreneurs/. Other resources are available at the Freeport Public Library with the Gale Business Suite, which provides tools to help build a business plan, templates for legal documents, a resource library and extensive demographic data.
The Partnership is developing the first ACE (Accelerating Creatives & Entrepreneurs) Expo on March 2-3 with regional partners. Those thinking of starting a business and new business owners are encouraged to attend to learn about funding opportunities, business structures, marketing, and to network with fellow entrepreneurs. Get more information here.
In 2022, you will see us increase the resources and services available to entrepreneurs. Growing and enriching our entrepreneurial landscape is a priority and it is one way we are fueling a thriving local economy.
Bill Clow is the Business Engagement Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-233-1353.