I have been sitting around and thinking about my time in Carbondale. It was a total failure. I tried to do what I had experience and been successful doing. The tech start up, VC, Angel Investor, fast growth thing, that has been so successful, in the few population centers in the US. What a bust, nothing in invest in, nothing really started, full stop.
Now, I did work with the Dunn-Richman people and started that business plan contest. It was seen as a success and it has spread through the state. I'm not certain that it isn't a bust too? Yes, some companies/people have been helped, but nothing has really emerged in Southern Illinois that has worked.
Let me suggest that a company with a bad idea, but hard working founders, is better than a company with a great idea, but founders who don't work. I can see taking the business plan contest and economic development in a new direction. Toward seed and very early stage investment in small companies, to allow them to get an initial product, working demo, or other showpiece start up item into a form that people can see and touch. Then you have a fighting chance to get the money you need, from investors or banks.
Here is an article from Wired Magazine that has a Silicon Valley version of this idea. I don't think the ideas in the article can work in Southern Illinois, but there is a thread of truth that is worth trying.
As always, your comments are welcome.