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It's Monday again. It really feels like a Monday for us, and we got to thinking that you might be feeling the same way. Sometimes work feels massive, like more than you can handle, which makes our latest blog post remarkably timely as we assess our "why" at Innovate Springfield and discuss how to go about developing your own personal "why" statement.

Knowing your "why" and coming back to it in your daily decision-making will help you stay the course and stay true to yourself, time and time again.

So, what's YOUR “why”?
At Innovate Springfield, we often challenge the starters that we serve with this question to help them maintain their clarity and focus, especially in those moments when they start to feel overwhelmed. (hi, Monday)
Because your “why” motivates you so passionately, so intensely, so much so that you’d do it for nothing. When you’re a small business starter, you’re almost always starting at nothing.

If you're interested in learning more about the process of developing your own personal "why" statement, do yourself a favor and check out our most recent blog "What's YOUR "why" and why it matters."


Click HERE to see upcoming learning opportunities
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Welcome to #iSPILyfe, where we're learning every day and growing every day and we know it. Join us!

Got the Monday Blues? The Innovate Springfield YouTube Channel has self-care-inspired content to support you.
Watch this Self-Care Hack with Amy Denney from Shine Light Therapy, and make some time for yourself today.
You deserve to feel your best always, but it's especially important to make self-care a part of your regular routine while you're investing everything into your startup.
Take extra good care of yourselves!

If you want to start something, live your vision of startup success, and be your own boss, you HAVE to be able to tell your story in a strong and compelling way. Don't fumble your startup story, register for Telling Your Story with local Journalist, UIS Professor, and Activator Magazine Editor Scott Faingold.

In this session, Scott will facilitate a practical "how-to" workshop on crafting the story of YOU, because your customers, constituents, and adoring followers WANT TO KNOW!

Date: Thursday, August 5, 2021
Time: 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: Cyberspace
Register Here

A little about the (AWESOME) presenter...

Reporter, broadcaster, novelist, musician, UIS instructor, and founder/editor of Activator magazine, Scott Faingold first started shaking things up on the Springfield cultural landscape in the 1980s, playing in teenage punk bands and eventually writing music reviews for

Springfield’s weekly newspaper Illinois Times before fronting alt-rock band Backwards Day from 1988-1992.

He later spent years doing media-based work in Chicago and in Texas, including the publication of his novel Kennel Cough (2000), acting as music editor for the weekly Houston Press (2004-2006), and doing publicity for Chicago's Lakeshore Theatre where he worked with some of the biggest names in comedy. He returned to central Illinois in 2010 to complete his M.A. in Communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, returned to Illinois Times as a staff writer (2013-2018) and was associate editor of Springfield Business Journal (2013-2016), also co-hosting weekly arts roundup The Scene on NPR Illinois with Rachel Otwell (2015-2017). 

He was an adjunct instructor in the UIS Communication department from 2013-2018 and is now a full-time faculty member, Director of Student Media, and Adviser for the UIS student-run newspaper, The Journal. He is currently teaching journalism courses, working towards expanding UIS student multimedia platforms on campus, and is editor-in-chief of Activator, an independent, monthly magazine focusing on central Illinois music and culture. He also finds time to perform in the post-punk band Epsom as well as neo-retro poetry/folk duo Heptanes and experimental hard rockers Splendid Flunkys.

In case you missed the memo, we're really lucky to have Scott engage with the iSPI Family!

The deadline to apply to participate in our fall CO.STARTERS cohort is fast approaching and we honestly can't begin to explain how valuable this program is for supporting a small business starter from ideation to execution. 

100% of the starters served in our spring cohort report...

  • feeling connected and supported by the local community in launching their venture; 
  • knowing their next steps upon completion of the program. [YESSSSS!]
CO.STARTERS is a proven effective program and Innovate Springfield has received special funding to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in participating in our fall CO.STARTERS cohort because we believe that innovation and entrepreneurship should be a right and not a privilege.

If you're an entrepreneur with an interest in participating in our fall CO.STARTERS cohort and you: 
  • identify as a woman;
  • belong to a minority group;
  • live with a disability;
  • have veteran status; and/or
  • live or work in a rural area;
You should complete an application to participate today!

Need a little more convincing? Check out a few of the titanic testimonies we received from our spring cohort.

NEW THIS FALL >> UIS students interested in earning an elective credit as a participant in the CO.STARTERS program this fall should contact Rob Weis in the Office of Engaged Learning for details at


At Innovate Springfield community is what it’s all about! It’s the most collaborative, supportive, and authentic environment we’ve ever worked in. The real magic is in the people who call iSPI their work-home and the passion and value that they bring to our community.
Meet Innovate Springfield Summer Fellow Grace Hart. Grace is a federal relations specialist for the University of Illinois System in Washington, DC. She is extremely passionate about disability rights issues and hopes to become a special education lawyer in the future.
Grace is also a Coelho Law Center Fellow, ASAN ACI alumna, and former intern for Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Senator Bob Casey. She graduated from UIUC in 2019 with a political science degree and is currently pursuing an MBA at UIS.

In her role as a Summer Fellow at Innovate Springfield, Grace is supporting CAP 1908. CAP 1908 is a startup in East Springfield that will boast a youth employment program, an early childhood education center, and a business incubator.

Grace lives by the Charlie Wardle quote, "A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings."
The Summer Fellowship Program is a collaborative effort between The Community Foundation for the Land of LincolnThe University of Illinois Springfield College of Business and ManagementiVENTURED; and Innovate Springfield.

The program aims to create new local businesses, expand existing local businesses, and attract homegrown talent back to the area. We are literally pulling all the stops to make this the most valuable, applicable, and fun experiential learning opportunity around.

The program will run through mid-August and will commemorate with a final capstone event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
It's going to be GREAT. Stay tuned for more details!

Innovate Springfield member Dwight Bolden, founder of The Zodiac Customs presents “culture” a designer streetwear fashion experience. Visit Venue 1929 on Friday, July 30 from 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM for exclusive couture fashion, handcrafted by Zodiac Customs.

Special Evening Policy Forum // Moving Towards Equity in Local Economic Access

Date: Wednesday, July 28th
Time: 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: Hoogland Center for the Arts, 3rd Floor

This program is the second program in the Confronting Inequities in Springfield series, sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield. The goal of the series is to increase the public’s awareness of disparities that exist in our own backyard and to encourage discussion and action to create a more just and equitable community.

The July 28 program will address the types of local economic access inequities that exist, factors that have contributed to those disparities, and opportunities and challenges for addressing those issues. The speakers will discuss local initiatives, as well as newly enacted state legislation and other plans to encourage economic empowerment and eliminate racial gaps. 

The program will welcome a live audience at the Hoogland Center for the Arts (registration is not required) and will also be live-streamed on the Citizens Club of Springfield Facebook page


  • Tiffany Hightower, Executive Director, Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation
  • Gina Lathan, Chief Executive Officer, LathanHarris, Inc.
  • Dominic Watson, President/CEO, Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce


  • Rikeesha Phelon, Executive Director, Office of Marketing, Communication, and Engagement, SIU School of Medicine

This is a special evening forum, and registration is not required.


Team RED Office hours
DCEO’s Regional Economic Development Team is hosting weekly office hours on the days and times listed below. These sessions are designed as open times that the Team is available. The Team will provide you with the latest updates and answer any questions you may have on state or federal programs. Feel free to drop in for any assistance you need.

If these times do not work for you, please reach out to your regional Team RED

Advantage Illinois: How local community banks can partner with the State of Illinois to help small business
Date and time: Wednesday, July 28, 2021, 11:00 AM Central Standard Time

Enhancing access to capital for Illinois businesses is a top priority. The Brookings Institution has noted that more than 95% of new jobs are derived from business expansion or start-up activity. Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy, and the Advantage Illinois program is here to assist. In this webinar, you will learn how the state's banking community can help entrepreneurs and small businesses start-up, expand and create new jobs at a faster rate by partnering with the State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity through this participation loan program.

Guest speakers include John D. Hill and Mark Schultz, Advantage Illinois Team for the Office of Business Development. Local community banks are encouraged to attend! Click here to register for this event.

Presented by Kala Lambert, Southeast Regional Manager of Regional Economic Development, DCEO

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity EDGE Overview
Date and time: Friday, July 30, 2021, 1:00 PM Central Standard Time

Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about the Economic Development For a Growing Economic (EDGE) tax credit within the Illinois Department of Commerce to help businesses. Click here to register for this event.

Presented by Manny Lopez, Northeast Regional Manager, and Joe McKeown, Northeast Region Senior Account Manager of Regional Economic Development, DCEO

The second season of Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC, a ten-week series of free, live music on the Y Block, is here! 

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