Elgin Area Small Business Academy

Conversation. Collaboration. Community.

Sharing Experience For YOUR Business Success!

If you are thinking of starting your own business or if you have been in business for less than five years, then you are in the right place! 

The Elgin Area Small Business Academy will provide you with small business ownership fundamentals and assist you in expanding your network of contacts to help grow your business. 

Through interactive classes, networking and sharing environment the EASBA seeks to create a supportive community of motivated entrepreneurs and small business owners and business managers who are interested in starting and/or taking their businesses to the next level.

Gain powerful insights from seasoned small business professionals on:

  • Reasons for Starting a Business
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Sales Strategies
  • Operations
  • Management

The Elgin Area Small Business Academy is modeled after the Elgin Area Chamber’s award-winning Elgin Area Leadership Academy.


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Meet your new FSB's, that's Friends in Small Business

Keith Rauschenberger

Keith Rauschenberger
President and Principal Planner
Rauschenberger Financial Advisors

Keith has a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in business, with a concentration in finance. He has spent over 30 years in banking and small business management. Keith became involved in planning over 10 years ago and is a CFP ® professional. 


Nancy Abuali
Managing Partner
MEA Cargo

Nancy is in charge of business development, vendor, and customer relationship management. She managed company's shipping and freight handling operations by working in teams to provide excellent domestic and international ground, air and ocean shipping solutions. Nancy also managed a network of shipping service providers throughout the United States.

Carol Gieske
President & CEO
Elgin Area Chamber

Carol has extensive leadership and non-profit experience, serving as CEO of United of Elgin, President of the Provena Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, and currently chief executive officer of the Elgin Area Chamber. Carol is responsible for working with the Board of Directors and staff in delivering the mission of the Chamber to its members and the community. 


Tony Lucenko
Elgin Development Group

Tony has over twenty years of experience in the economic development profession attaining successes in areas including Business Retention and Expansion, Business Attraction, Retail Enhancement, Cluster Development, Expanded Business-to-Business sales activity, Strategic Planning, and more. Tony currently is charged with leading Elgin's economic development.



Elgin Area Small Business Academy celebrates Class of 2016

The Elgin Area Chamber’s inaugural Elgin Area Small Business Academy (EASBA) class graduated in June after completing the inaugural cohort of the Academy.

This highly successful program provided nearly 20 prospective entrepreneurs and existing business owners with small business fundamentals thru a series of monthly interactive classroom-style presentations and discussions from local small business professionals. Topics covered over the course of the six-month academy included marketing and advertising, sales strategies, operations and management.

The sessions also enabled participants to develop a network of business contacts from both classmates and presenters.

Businesses that participated ran the gamut from smaller start-up ventures such as Kay Morrisoe’s hospitality, an artisan craft business located inside Elgin’s State Street Market, and Aaron Bowgren’s Aaroco, Inc., a home-based technology consulting company located in South Elgin, to more established small businesses such as Leo Urdaneta’s Domani Café coffee shop in downtown Elgin.

Former Pingree Grove Police Chief Carol Lussky’s Sheep Wreck Farm, which sells fiber made from Jacob sheep wool, found the program to be very successful in helping her launch her business venture.

 “Our EASBA volunteer committee did a wonderful job of developing the content and framework for this academy,” said Elgin Area Chamber President/CEO Carol Gieske. “It takes a great deal of time and effort to put all of these pieces together in creating something that our participants have really found valuable in starting or growing their business.”

The EASBA committee consists of Keith Rauschenberger of Rauschenberger Financial Advisors, Nancy Abuali of MEA Cargo, Jim Screeden of SCORE, Aaron Bowgren with Aaroco Custom Software, Catherine Arne of The Room Fox Valley, as well as Carol Gieske of EAC and Elgin Development Group's Tony Lucenko.

Graduates include:

Pam Echevarria, Shared Harvest

Heather Muniz, Shared Harvest

Kay Morrisroe, HospitaliTea

Cindy Rauschenberger, Fox Valley Endodontic Specialists

Aaron Bowgren, Aaroco Custom Software

Leonardo Urdaneta, Domani Cafe

Chris and Ashley Sumner, Mama Lee's Gourmet Popcorn

Catherine Arne, The Room Fox Valley

Jeff Seagren, Jeff Seagren Inc.

Karen Reyes, Karen Reyes Insurance Agency

Carol Lussky, Sheep Wreck Farm

Christina Castro, Butter & Flour

Jeffrey Mayr, Ridge Road Defense

Parley Casto, Ridge Road Defense

Daniel Sparks, Photography Moments II

Toni Frazier, Community Representative

Amanda Garcia, ColorWord Creative

Hans Klemmer, Hans Klemmer, Imaging & Glass

Parker Thompson, Elgin Bike Club

Darlene Castelvecchi, Community Member

Jonathan Ware, Science Closet & Sarah Blossom Ware

Steve Sikorsky, Sikorsky Chiropractic and Fitness

Joseph Cabanas, Mabuhay Insurance Agency

Tangela Campbell, Ms T's Commercial Green Cleaning

Bryan Blazer, Karr and Blazer Dental

Elise Klein, Elise Klein Fashion Consultant

Jennifer Cook, Cook's Ice Cream

Carol Palframan, Art Area Studio51

Steve Bichlmeier, Worm Kings

Mark Glavin, Fox Valley Shooting Club

Patrick Trevino, Learn & Play Chess