Hillsboro and Tabor College forge new partnership

Tabor College President David Janzen and Hillsboro Mayor Lou Thurston at the Tabor College campus last week. The two signed a memorandum of understanding to provide economic development services through an entrepreneurship center on campus.

Since new president David Janzen came to Tabor College last year, the City of Hillsboro and Tabor College have been exploring ways to work together to benefit the City of Hillsboro and the county of Marion. Last week, the duo took a new step in furthering that goal.

According to a press release sent out by Tabor College on Friday, Tabor and the City of Hillsboro signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide economic development services through an entrepreneurship center on campus.

Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles explained in an Aug. 2 city council meeting that Tabor will provide the staffing and physical location and a minimum 10 office hours per week for community members. The center will work with entrepreneurs on skills needed to create, develop and run an effective business. Core functions also include coordinating available resources, matching mentors, providing educational sessions and working to promote entrepreneurship in the elementary, middle and high schools. Regular reporting and baseline objectives are laid out in the agreement.

“Entrepreneurship development is Hillsboro’s primary economic development strategy; it’s where we’ve been the most successful in the past. The partnership with Tabor brings more resources and expertise while keeping costs reasonable for everyone. The city views this as the model for the future, and we are thankful to have partner like Tabor,” said Stiles.

The agreement, signed through June 30, 2023, will allow the community to strengthen economic development and expand Tabor’s programming and student involvement in entrepreneurship. It’ll be eligible for renewal in one-year terms based on mutual, written consent from both parties.

“The partnership is set for one year initially, but the vision is for this to be an ongoing partnership. In our discussions we talked about how the first four years of operations could rollout and evolve.

Ultimately, both sides agreed to limit the MOU for one year to start providing for renewal options,” said Stiles. “Tabor has also received grant funding to offset their costs, making this partnership possible. Tabor’s grant is renewable, but funding will determine the course of action in subsequent years.”

The announcement furthers Tabor’s mission to increase business and entrepreneurial programming and strengthens its relationship with the city, providing information and advice for current and aspiring business owners.

The college will utilize its former welcome center, located at D and Lincoln streets, as an entrepreneurship incubator.

The city will fund initial start-up costs and payment for facility leadership. The will help fill the void left when the position of economic development director was vacated last year by Anthony Roy.

“With this partnership, the city would eliminate the economic development position, reallocating resources to fund the CFE while keeping other duties of the position in house,” said Stiles. “For initial set-up of the CFE, the city will provide $5,000 in capital to help with startup costs. The $5,000 is a one-time payment. The city would provide $20,000—slightly more than the one mill levied for economic development—to support the center. The payment would be broken into two parts, one at signing and the second in January 2023 crossing into a new budget year.”

Mayor Lou Thurston is excited about the agreement, as well.

“This MOU is an opportunity for the city and Tabor to officially link arms to the betterment of both organizations and the community. With Tabor’s USDA grant to establish a center for entrepreneurial excellence, it only makes sense for the city to collaborate in this effort,” said Thurston. “I am excited for this opportunity to link arms with Tabor College (another powerful economic force in our community) to expand our service offering in this area. We appreciate the enthusiasm that Dr. Janzen and Tabor College are bringing to this venture, and I can’t wait to see what comes from it.”

Hillsboro and Tabor will also partner with Hillsboro USD 410, strengthening business and entrepreneurship courses and opportunities for local students of all ages.

Staci Janzen, who teaches business at Tabor and will serve as the Director for the entrepreneurship center, will be leading much of the work on Tabor’s end.

“I am so excited that the City of Hillsboro and Tabor College are working together in this capacity. This partnership strengthens the community we share and allows for more resources to be available to community members,” said Staci Janzen. “I’m excited, because I love Hillsboro, and Tabor loves Hillsboro. We both need each other.”

She added that she loves the collaboration in economic development and entrepreneurship because the students and the community can learn from each other to create a unique atmosphere for growth.

President Janzen agrees.

“This partnership around economic development results from our great relationship with the City of Hillsboro and their belief in our vision for entrepreneurship in the community,” President David Janzen said. “This agreement will increase what we can bring to current and future students while supporting the growth of our community and regional businesses.”

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