Local leaders are stepping up to start a program to create new jobs in Dixon, Illinois.
They're helping Sauk Valley Community College to unveil the Center for Small Business Development.
That's where students like Michael Willard represent the future.
"I think it's really important to create new jobs," he said.
This Dixon High senior already studies business.
On Tuesday, he's learning about creating jobs in his own neighborhood.
"I think it's huge to have a small business center here," he said.
Sauk Valley Community College students know about hard times.
They grew up while hundreds of jobs vanished from their towns.
Now, they can help to reinvent the region.
"There was no place for people to go that wanted to start a small business," said David Buchen, the center's director.
That's why local leaders are unveiling the center at the Dixon campus.
It will offer support to boost a quality workforce.
"One of the things that needs to be done is develop a culture around small business and entrepreneurship," he continued.
The center is a way to connect the campus with its community.
The goal is to spark ideas that create new jobs.
While the center must wait for more than $180,000 in federal and state funding that's tied up in the Illinois budget stalemate, communities are stepping up to get the program operating.
"It's community driven," said Buchen. "Communities are putting money into it to make it happen,"
For a future engineer like Michael Willard, it becomes a chance to help design success for the Sauk Valley.
"It really starts here in the small communities," he concluded.
For more information, contact the center at: svcc.edu/smallbiz, or at (815) 835-6248.