Small Business ConnectionFest: Achieving Your Next Business Adventure

The inaugural Small Business ConnectionFest was hosted Wednesday, April 17 from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM in the Kroc Center at 405 Vermont St. ConnectionFest was free, open to the public, and was a one-stop shop for small businesses and entrepreneurs to learn from industry leaders to achieve their new or next business adventure. Businesses learned more about where they are going from concepts and ideas through transition planning and retirement.


In the Vendor Hall, guess met with experts in finance, marketing, bookkeeping, legal, insurance and real estate to learn more about starting and growing a business. Speakers were scheduled throughout the day for guests to hear first hand about owning a business, what the Small Business Development Center can do for businesses, as well as tips on succession planning and what pitfalls to avoid.


Additionally, students taking the “Creativity, Innovation, and New Products Development” class at Quincy University got a chance to present their entrepreneurial ideas to business owners for advice on starting their business.


“I think it is a good opportunity to present my business plan,” explained Noam, Quincy University Student. Classmate Ella responded, “It will be good for the experts to see what new businesses college students are coming up with.” Teaching the class is Roger Leenerts who was excited for his students to be able to present. Leenerts stated, “It has been personally rewarding seeing college students excited about entrepreneurship!”

Vendor Hall included representatives from:

All Phase Property Solutions

First Mid Bank & Trust

Happel Inc., REALTORS

Hauk & Owens, LLC


IPI Wealth Management, Inc.


Peoples Prosperity Bank

Poole Communications

Quincy Tri-State SCORE

Illinois Small Business Development Center at Western Illinois University

The District

Thyme Square Cafe



Speaker schedule was as follows:

8:00 | Jennifer Breeden, Assistant Professor of Business at Quincy University & small business owner

8:30 | Jim Boyd, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Western Illinois University

9:00 – 9:10 BREAK

9:10 | Charles White, Small Business Administration, U.S. Small Business Administration

9:40 | Rob Newbolt, IMEC – Succession Planning

10:10 – 10:20 BREAK

10:20 | Quincy University Students – present their business plans & Craig Hemming, Doors N More, Inc. – His story and ask/answer from QU students

11:20 | Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce – Business Plan Competition & Golden Bridges, Inc. – Business Plan Competition experience


Small Business ConnectionFest is in partnership with Great River Economic Development Foundation Adams County Works Team and the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce.

Adams County Works Team Organizers include John Wood Community, Quincy University, West Central Region Education for Employment System #240, United Way of Adams County, and Workforce Board of Western Illinois.