Business Incubator Generates Lake Forest Jobs
Lake Forest's business incubator program has generated 22 jobs in the city in less than a year.
In 2011, Lake Forest City Manager Robert R. Kiely Jr. asked Susan Kelsey what could be done to help grow and retain local businesses in Lake Forest.
After Coyote Logistics moved its more than 600 employees from Lake Forest to Chicago, Kiely was concerned that the city could be doing more to help spur local business creation and to keep local businesses in the city.
Soon after the conversation, Lake Forest's business incubator program began.
"The good news with Susan Kelsey is if you just give her a little idea, she runs with it," Kiely said at last Monday's Lake Forest City Council meeting.
The program began last May to help grow local businesses and jobs, according to Kelsey, a partner at Lakeland Partners, Inc., which provides leadership and consulting services to corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
"Our goal is to fill Lake Forest office space 100 percent," Kelsey said at Monday's meeting. "We want to enhance our entrepreneurial climate."
Since beginning last year, the incubator has created 22 local jobs, according to Kelsey. The incubator offers office space to budding business for a monthly price, or a lower price for members who would like to attend meetings designed to help them start their business.
For for every dollar invested, thirty dollars in tax revenue is generated, according to Kelsey, so there is no public money supporting the incubator.
"She's just been a tremendous advocate for us," said Meg Barnhart, an incubator member and the owner of The Zen of Slow Cooking. "There's been an outpouring of support from other Lake Forest residents."
Barnhart was at Monday's meeting to praise the business incubator program. She was joined by John Walsh from 10x10 Digital Marketing and James Dean from Family Recovery TV. Through the incubator, Dean was able to hire an intern from Lake Forest College who helped him fix up his website.
"The focus is on retaining businesses," Kelsey said on Monday. "The magic is what happens within the walls."