Click here for COVID-19 Resources provided by the University of Illinois Research Park

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 Technology Training Program* provides skills in programming, data analytics, and WordPress basics. Combines technical skill development with coaching and mentoring by local technology professionals. Offered in partnership with the University of Illinois Research Park and Software Carpentry. To learn more, visit here.
  • The COVID-19 Technology Acceleration Program* provides statewide assistance to advance technology and commercialization that addresses challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. To learn more, visit here.

The University of Illinois EDA University Center is supported by a federal grant funding from the United States Economic Development Administration. Programs noted as (*) are supported by an EDA CARES Act grant. For more information, contact Cheri Soliday at

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Urban & Regional Planning Faculty

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.