Inductor of Healing

Shortly after beginning his business, Inductor of Healing, Malike Ayouba signed up to receive business advising. He was able to gain invaluable guidance in how to best develop and market his business. He accredits his successful journey to the skills he learned through the Cook County Small Business Source.

Malike Ayouba, Inductor of Healing in Forest Park, IL


Moreno’s Shoe Repair

Ernesto Moreno signed up for business advising from Cook County Small Business Source to help grow his family business, Moreno’s Shoe Repair in Berwyn. Through the program, he also learned about available grants and received assistance with marketing. Best of all, Moreno knew he wasn’t facing his business challenges alone. “I was able to go in and get help when I really needed it.”

Ernesto Moreno, Moreno’s Shoe Repair in Berwyn, IL


Moreno’s Shoe Repair

The Berwyn Shops Launch

Congratulations to our partners at the Berwyn Development Corporation for launching Berwyn Shops, a new business incubator supported by the Cook County Small Business Source. The Berwyn Shops, features 12 women-owned (11 Latina-owned) 12’x15’ cottage-style shops and provides vendors with the necessary support to operate a small business: a storefront, business education, promotion and resources. Located at 6931 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, IL, the Berwyn Shops are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June to mid-December. A truly unique experience that you don’t want to miss!

Allies for Community Business Loan Opportunity

Take advantage of our discounted 3% interest rate by applying for a small business loan today!

This special offer will apply to all applications received by June 30, 2022. Applications received on July 1, 2022 or after will be subject to our standard 9% interest rate. This one-year promotion in response to the pandemic was made possible thanks to the generous support of our funders.

Allies for Community Business offers loans and lines of credit between $500 and $100,000 to early, emerging, and established businesses in Illinois and Indiana. 

Refinances do not qualify for the discounted 3% interest rate, and all applications are subject to A4CB standard underwriting and application review.

Click Here to Apply:

Cook County Small Business Source Launch

The Cook County small business community thanks President Toni Preckwinkle along with Cook County Commissioners Frank Aguilar, Alma Anaya, Kevin Morrison, and Xochitl Flores, Chief of the Bureau of Economic Development, for their efforts in establishing the Cook County Small Business Source. The program will directly connect small business owners with expert guidance and support to ensure that businesses emerge from COVID-19 intact and positioned for growth. Visit The Source today!

*Above image President Preckwinkle and representatives from The Source’s network of over 30 partner organizations.

Webinar Series: State of Illinois’ Child Care Grant

Join our webinar series to learn more about the State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Childcare Grants

Provided by the State of Illinois, these new grants give licensed and eligible childcare centers access to quarterly funding to help maintain and grow operations. As the Cook County Small Business Source has worked with childcare providers interested in the grant, we saw the challenges providers faced while applying for this grant.

Join us for a three-part series that will guide you through the process—and help you access the funds you need to grow and thrive! The first session will provide an overview of the grant, the second session will focus on how to fill out the budget information needed for the application and the final session will be an opportunity for you to receive one-on-one assistance with your application. 

Throughout the sessions, representatives from the Cook County Small Business Source, Women’s Business Development Center and Illinois Action for Children will walk you through the application and answer any questions you may have.

Part 1: General Overview of the State of Illinois' Strengthen and Grow Grants

Review the details, process, and eligibility for the State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Grants. Registration is required.

When: Thursday, May 19

Time: 6:30pm – 7:30 pm

Traducción al español estará disponible durante este seminario virtual. 


Part 2: Creating a Comprehensive Budget for the State of Illinois Strengthen and Grow Grant

Learn how to create a comprehensive budget for the State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants program. Registration is required.

When: Thursday, May 26

Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm

*Traducción al español estará disponible durante este seminario virtual. 


Part 3: Strengthen & Grow Child Care Grant Application Assistance – Pop-Up Event 

Join us in-person to receive one-on-one assistance with your State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants application. Walk-ins are acceptable, registration is preferred.

When: Saturday, June 11

Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Location: Illinois Action for Children (Chatham)

         1111 E. 87th Street, Ste 400. Chicago 60619

UP CLOSE | Small Business Spotlight

UP CLOSE | Small Business Spotlight 

Meet Aida Flores and Eduardo Duarte of Total Nutrition Belmont LLC

5550 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60641

(773) 757-4420

How long have you been in business?

I started in 2008 learning about wellness and maintaining healthy habits, being proactive and changing my eating habits and doing this as a family. I first helped others in my small circle of influence. As I continued preparing myself with more specialized classes, I learned that there was a big need and desire for more information, and I wanted to help more people. So, 5 years ago, we opened our store where people could come and exercise, and we could coach them. We then also obtained our license to start offering healthy food and beverage items.

What products or services does your business offer?

We offer comprehensive programs for well-being and maintaining healthy habits for the whole family. We create nutritional programs, and we offer coaching and support for healthy weight loss, increased muscle mass, exercise plans, etc. In our retail store, we also offer protein shakes and soy-based healthy food, such as waffles, crepes, protein bowls, natural fruit, and energy beverages. We have support chats and communities where transformation challenges are carried out, where people feel motivated and encouraged to meet their personalized goals.

How did COVID-19 impact your business?

This was a difficult time for everyone. Our business was highly impacted because we could not meet in person to exercise as a team. A big part of a person’s motivation is this time that you spend with others with similar goals; we support each other, and this is important. In addition, we also offer healthy food items, and our daily sales and traffic were lower. But we were able to adapt our business format so that people could also take these items to go. We continue to connect with our clients on a personal basis.

How did it feel to have to confront the challenges you faced?

We felt challenged to find other ways to reach our clients every day and connect with them in the right format so that we could continue to offer the services they needed.  While this time has been and continues to be challenging, it still made us create new strategies to continue with our daily mission, which is to build healthier and stronger communities.

How did you become connected to IHCC?

Through the Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors (NIJFON) organization, they came to our place looking for a way to support the community, especially during this pandemic that has impacted so many businesses. We were connected with the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance Program, which then introduced us to IHCC, where we received technical assistance.

How has working with IHCC helped you and your company?

It has helped us a lot. Sometimes, as small businesses, there is information that we do not know, and IHCC gives us business tools to continue advancing in a confident and calm way, knowing that we are on the right track. We feel very supported, because anytime that we have questions and doubts, they are there; their answers are very quick and helpful to be able to make important decisions. I am grateful that these organizations exist with such friendly people who have the knowledge and contacts that give us confidence and guidance. I believe all the small businesses that we start should leverage this important resource. Just reach out to them.

What have you enjoyed the most about working with IHCC?

That I have a clear guide and they quickly resolve my doubts. They are really very kind people, with a gift of service, who love helping others. I trust reaching them for business support.

What do you hope for your community and business moving forward?

Growth, as a business and for our clients. We are in the process of doing some remodeling work so we can have a better space to continue helping others with their journey to attain and maintain healthy habits. Our future goal is to help others open more centers like ours. We want to continue helping many members of my community and neighboring communities sharing our know-how to achieve wellness and health for the family. We want to create extra income and business opportunities for others, as it has worked for us. We hope to continue having the support of these great organizations.


Meet the Business Support Organization — Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Tell me about the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and your participation in the Small Business Source

We were one of the first organizations to happily join this program because it aligns very closely with our primary focus.  As a Chamber, we help business owners grow their businesses and meet their goals by providing answers or creative solutions to varied questions or challenges that they face every day and that were heightened during the pandemic.  We work diligently to assist the Hispanic business community. We share knowledge, build connections and collaboration through networks like the Cook County Small Business Source and other business resources.  I believe that by helping these businesses they, in turn, can have a positive impact in the community.   

What are some of the most common questions that small business owners need help navigating?

These are a few of the questions that we get and that we can guide businesses on how to solve:

“How do I bring traffic into my business”

“What are some recommendations to increase sales”

“Where do I market my business”

“How do I start or improve my social media so that it really helps my business”

Or financial questions — “How to read a P&L (profit and loss statement)”, “How can I get a line of credit or loan”, “grant availability”, etc.

Very often, Hispanic business owners have questions or business concerns, but do not know if they should ask, what to ask or where to start.  It sounds cliché but the only bad question is the one we do not ask. 

Other times, business owners have a specific query, for example “how do I make better posts on social media”, but once we work together, we realize the actual challenge to solve (i.e., increase positive reviews, increase sales on my online website, etc.).  Setting a strategy, tasks become clearer.  

How is the assistance you’re providing changing or shifting now that we’re in a different stage of the pandemic?

Historically, in a time of crisis, there will always be businesses that do well because they are able to adapt, have or quickly identify needed resources or opportunities.  Nonetheless, we still have a lot of businesses that are struggling.  Many businesses must pivot, adapt to new realities (different consumers, lack of employees, inflation, etc.).  We are helping them navigate through these changing times and prioritize strategies.    

What is your advice to business owners who are struggling or feeling doubt?

It is important to not give up. Leverage resources like this Cook County Small Business Source Program, the Hispanic Chamber, or the Small Business Development Center that know about grants or flexible loans.  It is always good to stay connected.  By registering on programs like this, you get news first-hand about various opportunities.  Do not hesitate to reach for help, we know that owning a business is a journey and we would like to support you, through the good or the challenging times.      

Why should small business owners seek assistance from IHCC?

We have a lot of experience and knowledge that we’ve accumulated throughout the years. We have a dedicated team of bilingual and bicultural business savvy advisors that are there for a long-term relationship with small business owners and we do not charge for our services.

We also have other beneficial programs like the Small Business Development Center that provides advice and resources to start a business.  The Latin X Incubator is a partnership with 1871, the largest technology or digital start-up incubator. And 3 other programs, the Illinois Tollway, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and the Small Business Transportation Resource Center all geared to help business owners gain access to public and private government contracting through capacity-building, certification, and coaching.

What is one of IHCC’s biggest achievements being able to assist Cook County businesses?

One of the biggest achievements in collaboration with the Cook County was to be able to help small business owners apply for the $10,000 Cook County Recovery Grant. At the beginning, only 7 percent of Hispanic-owned businesses were eligible to apply, but our team helped communicate and personally assist applicants to raise that 7 percent to 11 percent.  This was a crucial time for a lot of businesses and having a personal contact that could help them navigate the grant process, especially when a lot of government offices had shorter business hours, was key to help more businesses that otherwise would not have had access to this resource.   

What events or initiatives does IHCC have coming up?

We always have something happening such as networking breakfasts, our Mariachi Golf Outing and later in the year a Business Expo.  We encourage business owners to check our webpage (Upcoming events – IHCC) or follow us on social media to register and meet us at these events. For the Cook County Program, we are planning different webinars and knowledge sharing sessions in the community (i.e., Google my business and Marketing with social media).  Stay tuned for more details.    

Is there anything else you’d like people to know?

Thanks to the Cook County Small Business Source Program, we were also able to expand our team and really go out there and help businesses we had not helped before. We know that recovery from the pandemic is a long-term process, and we like people to know that we are here to help in Spanish, English or Spanglish.  You choose, we listen and are here to help.

The Cook County Small Business Source is still taking on clients for technical assistance! Click here to sign up for help today and be connected with one of our Business Support Organizations that can provide you with the support you need.

Update to EIDL

Major enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program  have been announced!

EIDLE is a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support our small business communities still reeling from the pandemic, especially hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels.

Program Updates

  • Increasing the Lending Cap: The SBA will lift the COVID EIDL cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying debt.
  • Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period: The SBA will ensure small business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry about making ends meet.
  • Establishment of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window: The SBA will implement a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 will begin after the 30-day period.
  • Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds: COVID EIDL funds will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
  • Simplification of affiliation requirements: The SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

About the COVID EIDL Program

In response to COVID-19, small business owners, including agricultural businesses, and nonprofit organizations in all U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and territories can apply for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The purpose of EIDL is for small businesses to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

How to apply

Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit to learn more about eligibility and application requirements. The last day that applications may be received is December 31, 2021. All applicants should file their applications as soon as possible.


If you need assistance applying call us at 872.304.2785.