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Executive Team Member

Eric has been a part of the Rural Ideas Network since its inception and brings more than 20 years experience in retail, business, and nonprofit administration. In his role at the Rural Ideas Network, Eric facilitates the Innovation Lab Accelerator program and provides coaching to entrepreneurs.

In 2017, Eric co-founded The Innovation Lab (, a coworking space & innovation services provider with multiple locations in the midwest. The Innovation Lab established a proven model for how coworking spaces could successfully operate in rural communities. The experiences learned launching multiple rural coworking spaces serves as the basis for the Rural Ideas Network Innovation Lab Accelerator program, which teaches participants how to plan, develop, and operate an Innovation Lab in their community.

In 1997, he founded MainStreet Cheesecakes, growing it through both wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales until the company was eventually purchased in 2014. In 2016, Dregne co-founded Prairie Ridge of Galena (, an $18 million senior living facility, and in 2017, Dregne launched Next Level (, a project-management services company.

Dregne is also a social innovator and has launched numerous community initiatives and two nonprofit organizations, including Every Child Every Promise ( in 2010 and the Community Foundation of Jo Daviess County ( in 2017.

Eric brings extensive experience in areas like new business planning/development, equity & finance development, and brand development to help businesses and communities spark growth.

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