August 9, 2021 (BOONE COUNTY, IL) – Growth Dimensions Economic Development, Transform Rockford, EIGERlab, Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, and Illinois Small Business Development (SBDC), along with area resource organizations, launched an entrepreneur resource guide known as COMPASS.

COMPASS provides a holistic view of resources available for entrepreneurs. The document is divided into three primary audiences: Concept/Start-Up, Established and All Businesses. Each resource organization is also identified by specialties provided, such as Financial Consulting, Internships / Student Programs, Legal Services, Manufacturing / Logistics, Marketing / Sales, Mentoring / Counseling, Networking / Events, Planning / Management, Research & Development (R&D) / Commercialization, Regulatory Compliance, Selling to Government & Corporations, Space Usage, Workforce / HR / Talent, and serving Minorities & Women.

Regional partners from Boone, Winnebago, and Stephenson Counties and surrounding communities spent several months working with local and national organizations to develop this comprehensive resource that will guide entrepreneurs throughout their business lifecycle.

Initially working with the National League of Cities, the City of Belvidere, assisted by Growth Dimensions Economic Development, was selected to advance their entrepreneurial ecosystem through a grant funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This enabled Belvidere to begin working with SourceLink®, a provider experienced in bringing together organizations in order to develop a roadmap for entrepreneurs.

Understanding the need for a more regional approach, Growth Dimensions Economic Development began working with Transform Rockford to develop a list of entrepreneur-focused organizations. With their assistance, EIGERlab, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, and SBDC committed additional dollars and talent to provide a robust entrepreneur resource. Additionally, the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce joined the strategic partners to provide further insight to needed resources for new and established businesses.

Pamela Lopez-Fettes, Executive Director for Growth Dimensions Economic Development for Belvidere and Boone County stated, “This was a collaborative effort put together by leading entrepreneur-centric organizations. It was an honor and privilege to be able to bring such great minds to the table in developing this unique area resource.”

After initial conversations between SourceLink and the strategic partners, they connected with regional organizations to develop COMPASS. These organizations attended a virtual workshop in June 2021, to discuss entrepreneur resources in the region, as well as opportunities for improvement. Further, they were asked to fill out a survey which helped to identify what services their organization offered, also drawing out their specialties.

COMPASS partners are committed to the success of entrepreneurs, by guiding them to the best network resources throughout the business network.

“These conversations and the insight provided by our regional partners really helped develop COMPASS,” stated Spitty Tata, Program Manager for Transform Rockford. “Without their engagement this resource would not be here today.”

Mary McNamara Bernsten, Executive Director of Rockford Area Arts Council, added, “The Rockford Area Arts Council is pleased to be a COMPASS partner. The Rockford Area Arts Council exists to support, promote, and develop access to the arts for everyone. As the collective voice of individual artists and regional arts organizations, we believe in the transformative power of the arts—and innovation—and its ability to set the tone for a region’s creative and cultural infrastructure.”

COMPASS was created for every organization to use in order to assist local entrepreneurs realize their dreams of business ownership. COMPASS is not only a tool for entrepreneurs, creators and innovators, it is also a valuable resource for all partners and the business community.

The COMPASS Resource Organizations will utilize COMPASS as a referral source to other partners as they recognize the next steps or needed services to grow and sustain the business owners they support.

This document is also available to all regional industries and businesses committed to the success of business owners. Banks, law firms, accountants and many other private sectors will be able to utilize COMPASS to guide their own clients to valuable resources needed along their business journey.

Organizations involved in the training and advancement of business owners have the benefit of incorporating COMPASS into their curriculum.

One such training program, among others in the region, is the Venture FastTrac Program provided through Growth Dimensions Economic Development as part of their Venture Program resources. COMPASS will act as a valuable guide within this program in order to connect new and existing businesses to resources within our region. With their Fall 2021session beginning the week of September 12th, the timing of COMPASS couldn’t be better.

Also, multiple area organizations are working with Transform Rockford as they prepare for their first Accelerating Entrepreneurs and Creatives Conference and Expo, better known as ACE. This inaugural event will take place on October 7th and 8th at the Discovery Center in Rockford. COMPASS will be given out and discussed with every business owner in attendance.

Mike Cobert, Director of EIGERlab, said, “COMPASS is going to be one of the best resources for entrepreneurs as they continue on their business path. And, we’re excited to continue seeing how the community will use this resource which is specifically designed for our area.”

COMPASS can be found with any of the resource organizations, as well as at


Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce

City of Belvidere

City of Rockford


Fox Valley SCORE


Greater Freeport Partnership

Growth Dimensions Economic Development for Belvidere & Boone County

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – as part of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE)

The Parks Chamber of Commerce

Region 1 Planning Council

Rockford Area Arts Council

Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Rockford Public Library

Rockford MakerSpace

Rock River Valley Partnership

Southwest Ideas for Today & Tomorrow (SWIFTT)


Transform Rockford

The Workforce Connection


With many independent organizations providing entrepreneurial services in Boone and Winnebago Counties and the surrounding area, the region is well-positioned to be a globally recognized hub for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovative companies. COMPASS links these organizations together, in order to highlight the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem’s capabilities.

COMPASS is a regional tool, developed by professional organizations to provide a roadmap for aspiring and existing business owners. COMPASS partners are committed to the success of entrepreneurs, by guiding them to the best network resources throughout their business cycle. For more information, visit


SourceLink®, the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are pleased to announce the results of recent efforts to advance entrepreneurial development in Kankakee and Belvidere, Illinois. Both communities recently participated in NLC’s City Innovation Ecosystems (CIE) program, offered in partnership with and support from the Kauffman Foundation.




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