HANNIBAL — For some local entrepreneurs, it’s been a year of learning, connecting, and kindling new relationships in the community through the Ignite program.
The Ignite program is a partnership between Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council, the Small Business Development Center, Northeast Power and the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce. Each month they have a free event open to the public; one month is a networking event and the following month is an educational event.
In celebration of the program’s first year, Ignite will host an event at the Rialto at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event will not only offer an evening of mingling and networking with refreshments but they will reveal plans for the remainder of the year.
The first Ignite event was a panel discussion hosted last July titled “Your Entrepreneurial Toolbox” at Fiddlesticks. Events in the following months took place in various places with topics such as “Creating Entrepreneurial Communities,” “Financial Management through a Distressed Situation,” “Rethink your Marketing Strategy” and a panel “Women in Entrepreneurship” held in Monroe City.
Maria Kuhns, entrepreneurship specialist at Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council said the first year has had strong attendance and already sparked new businesses and business collaborations on various projects.
Kuhns said the softer side of the events has been the connections made and watching area business owners connect dots around the community upon discovering who is associated with what business or organization.
“We get businesses from all different sectors of the economy and the cool thing about Hannibal is that it’s a small enough town that you know when different things are going on with different businesses or you drive by them and see a new building going up,” she said.
She said Ignite has also been a source for growing mentorships between experienced business owners and those who are just getting started. Businesses, no matter how different they are, share many paths when it comes to getting started.
“A lot of the growing pains are similar so having that mentorship for some of our newer businesses has been really helpful,” she said.
Ignite has been really good for people who are new to the Hannibal area and want to get to know people in the community. “We create a warm and welcoming environment so people will be comfortable to get involved,” she said.
Kuhns invites anyone who ever thought about taking a chance on something in the community to check out Ignite or “anyone who has ever looked at a building and thought about its potential or identified a need within different groups of people or anyone who has a dream that they would like to explore.”
“We just encourage people to come and learn about what’s going on and figure out how to best support those people and be engaged,” she said. “We are inclusive and just like to keep people in the mindset that we all play a role in building our communities.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.