Mayor Wells-Armstrong Partners with Kauffman Foundation as an Ecosystem Ambassador for Entrepreneurs


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Kankakee, IL – Last week, Mayor Wells-Armstrong and Barbi Brewer-Watson, Executive Director for the CDA,attended the Kauffman Foundation’s Annual Mayors Conference on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Ewing Marion Kauffman established the Foundation with the same sense of opportunity he brought to his business endeavors, and, with the same convictions. Kauffman wanted his foundation to be innovative to dig deep and get at the roots of issues to fundamentally change outcomes in people’s lives. He wanted to help young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, get a quality education that would enable them to reach their full potential. He saw building enterprise as one of the most effective ways to realize individual promise and spur the economy. Kauffman Foundation leaders believe mayors occupy a critical space at the intersection of city governance and entrepreneurship. Every day, mayors across the country have the ability to undertake entrepreneur-friendly policies and programs. The Mayors Conference exists to help find, support, and scale those efforts,” stated Victor W. Hwang, Vice President of Entrepreneurship for Kauffman Foundation.

The Kauffman Foundation hosts an annual conference to sponsor mayors who are focused on developing strategies that will promote and build equitable ecosystems for entrepreneurs. Ecosystem builders are defined as individuals who focus their work on building a system of support and resources for entrepreneurs in their communities or industries. Approximately 80 mayors and additional city leaders attended this year’s conference. During the three day event, there were opportunities to meet entrepreneurs, attend panel discussions, and learn from national leaders working in the area of building ecosystems.

“The opportunity to speak with Economic Development Administration (EDA) leaders helped me better understand the grant funding requirements and how to best leverage our city’s assets to meet program requirements,” stated Barbi Brewer-Watson. The Kauffman Foundation reports that three out of 1000 people start a business every month. The success of those start-ups depends on the support they receive from the community. The ability to test ideas, access capital, and develop community partnerships is critical to the success of entrepreneurs.

“As Mayor of this great city, I believe entrepreneurs have a critical role in our economic development strategy and Kankakee’s future depends on their success. That is why I have committed to a coalition of mayors working with the Kauffman Foundation, National League of Cities (NLC), My Dashboard, and other partners who are collaborating on this initiative in the coming year. There are resources and work being done across this country to strengthen local economies. There is no reason the City of Kankakee should not be at the table to benefit. When our entrepreneurs are successful, that yields success for our city,” said Mayor Wells-Armstrong.


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