Judges for the 2023 KCSO Small Business Plan Competition
Judges for the 2023 KCSO Small Business Plan Competition

Kane County Sheriff's Mentoring Program Produces Big Plans for Small Business

Kane County Connects Staff 10/2/2023 3:00AM

Over the course of five years, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has hosted a small business planning competition as part of Sheriff Ron Hain’s jail diversion programs aimed at reducing prisoner recidivism rates.

Jail detainees are given the opportunity to create a business plan with coaching from Waubonsee Community College’s Small Business Development Center and the Illinois Minority Business Development Center in Elgin. Similar to the television show Shark Tank, finalists pitch their business plan to a panel of judges, including banking and economic development professionals, community leaders and business owners, for the chance to win the competition and receive feedback on their business plan.

This year, the KCSO detainee’s small business plans included a towing company, liquidation retail store, an after-hours mobile food truck and a community-based beauty shop that provides services and classes. The judges selected a plan to create a reintegration center to provide resources for individuals recently released from jail and a drive-thru convenience store catering to people who have difficulty getting out of their cars or parents who have small children with them.

The 2023 winners were judged on their creativity, understanding of their business plan, market audience and opportunity for growth. They were also scored on their ability to deliver their business idea through a clear and enthusiastic pitch.

At least two former detainees from prior competitions took their winning business plans and turned them into real-world opportunities by creating a catering operation and transportation company.

The KCSO also offers detainees programs to complete a high school diploma (GED), forklift certification, parenting classes, chef classes, food safety certification, English as a second language classes, barbering certification and employment preparedness classes.

No taxpayer money goes towards the operation of the detainee programs. Instead, they are paid for through grants, donations and profits from the jail commissary.
Tags: Business Community Community Involvement Economy Education Featured Sheriff
Subscribe to our E-Newsletter