Tabor College, City of Hillsboro partner to expand entrepreneurship

Tabor College receives $90,000 USDA Grant to promote rural entrepreneurship

Tabor College president David Janzen and Hillsboro mayor Lou Thurston celebrate the signing of an MOU to provide economic development services through an entrepreneurship center on campus. Photo: Tabor College

Tabor College and the City of Hillsboro signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide economic development services through an entrepreneurship center on campus. The agreement, signed through June 30, 2023, will allow the community to strengthen economic development and expand Tabor’s programming and student involvement in entrepreneurship. It’ll be eligible for renewal in one-year terms based on mutual, written consent from both parties.

The announcement furthers Tabor’s mission to increase business and entrepreneurial programming and strengthens its relationship with the city, providing information and advice for current and aspiring business owners.

The college will utilize its former Welcome Center, located at D and Lincoln streets, as an entrepreneurship incubator. Tabor will provide staff to operate the facility, offering a minimum of 10 office hours for walk-ins, appointments and business mentorship. The city will fund initial start-up costs and payment for facility leadership.

Tabor will also partner with Hillsboro USD 410, strengthening business and entrepreneurship courses and opportunities for local students of all ages.

“This partnership around economic development results from our great relationship with the City of Hillsboro and their belief in our vision for entrepreneurship in the community,” President David Janzen says. “This agreement will increase what we can bring to current and future students while supporting the growth of our community and regional businesses.”

A shared vision excites the city for what the facility and programming will do for building local business.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity to create a collaboration between the city and Tabor,” Hillsboro Mayor Lou Thurston says. “With the advent of Tabor’s entrepreneurship program, it makes total sense for us to cooperate in this arena, maximizing our economic development investment dollars. We see this as the first of several opportunities to invest in our relationship going forward. I can’t wait to see what will come.”

Tabor College has received a $90,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that is helping to fund the program incubator. The grant, set for Aug. 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023, will provide services to Hillsboro, Marion County, and much of central Kansas for starting and growing businesses.

Staci Janzen, professor of business administration at Tabor, has been named program director.

“Tabor is leaning into entrepreneurship significantly,” President Janzen says. “Receiving USDA’s RBDG grant provides excellent external validation of our vision for transforming communities and people through innovative thinking and economic development. We are so excited to launch this center. Staci is the right person to lead it given her academic/professional experience and passion for serving our students and communities.”

This project will include guidance on entrepreneurship pipelines from ideation through pitch development and incubation, instruction on program management and business consulting services for start-ups and regional small businesses. The project also seeks to develop and execute innovation and design-thinking workshops and entrepreneurship speaking series while providing opportunities for entrepreneurial mentorship with Tabor faculty and staff.

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.


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