University of Illinois EDA University Center

University of Illinois EDA University Center

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The University of Illinois EDA University Center promotes and fosters entrepreneurship in Illinois south of Interstate 80. The Center’s mission is to create a growing pipeline of long-term innovative and vibrant business activity within the region through entrepreneur education, startup and small business assistance, and incubation growth and support.

The University of Illinois EDA University Center’s support and services include:

  • The Small Business Assistance program assists qualified entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses with short-term projects related to branding, marketing, and communication. These free, creative and marketing services are provided by University of Illinois student interns who are hired and managed by the EnterpriseWorks Technology Incubator. To learn more or to apply for services, visit here.
  • Technical assistance to communities seeking to strengthen or develop their entrepreneurial ecosystem and resources for startup companies and small businesses. Expertise is provided by leaders associated with the University of Illinois Department of Urban & Regional Planning, EnterpriseWorks Technology Incubator, Research Park, and Office of Technology Management. Assistance to communities includes site visits, sharing of best practices from other comparable communities, and feasibility planning for new programs. Communities seeking assistance may contact Cheri Soliday at
  • The Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Program provides consulting to new startup ventures, prospective technology entrepreneurs, and small businesses that are located south of Interstate 80 in the state of Illinois. EDA University Center EIRs are experienced entrepreneurs, innovators, or consultants that have addressed challenges with business startups, business development, or commercializing research and early stage technology. To learn more or to apply for EIR consulting, visit here.

The University of Illinois EDA University Center is supported by a federal grant funding from the United States Economic Development Administration. For more information, contact Cheri Soliday at

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Urban & Regional Planning Faculty

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Marc Doussard, Associate Professor

Marc Doussard’s research examines urban economic development through changes to footloose and placebound industries. His book Degraded Work (University of Minnesota Press) documents the restructuring of local-serving industries and the paths to upward mobility opened and foreclosed by changing competitive practices. His subsequent work on these industries includes the co-authored study Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry, and ongoing research on wage-theft laws, community-labor coalitions outside of large cities, and the national fast food organizing campaign.

This focus on the neglected subject of local-serving industries complements ongoing research on the contribution of innovative, mobile industries to local labor market opportunities. Here, his research covers manufacturing Makerspaces and the local institutions that convert innovation into employment.

Doussard received a B.A. from Columbia College, and his M.U.P.P. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was long-time associate of the Center for Urban Economic Development. His past and current research partners include EnterpriseWorks, Fast Food Forward, the Service Employees International Union, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE!, the Humboldt Park Chamber of Commerce, Women Employed, Action Now, Local First Chicago, the Illinois Department of Revenue and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Request for Consulting Proposals – Entrepreneur in Residence Program

The EDA University Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign seeks consulting proposals for an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program that will serve startup ventures and prospective entrepreneurs in downstate Illinois (south I-80). The areas of expertise requested include:

  • Agriculture innovation and technology
  • Biomedical or healthcare innovation and technology
  • Innovation and technology related to national security and defense

For more information about the EIR program and proposal requirements, download and review the RFP. Proposals received by September 30, 2019 will receive full consideration.

The EDA University Center is led by EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois Research Park. Funding support for the Center and the EIR Program is provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.