Overview of Services

The Cook County Small Small Business Source features a network of over 30 organizations dedicated to supporting small businesses in any stage of development. This model of support prioritizes getting businesses the help they need when they need it. In addition to one-on-one advising services, the program also provides free toolkits, webinars and timely online resources and information for small businesses.

Advising services and resources cover topics:

  • Building a business plan for your startup or growing business
  • Finding the right financing source for your needs
  • Getting your business ready to apply for funding
  • Marketing your business through digital and traditional methods
  • Accessing new customers online
  • …And much more!

Business Advising

The Cook County Small Business Source's Business Advising program provides one-on-one assistance to small business owners to address their unique needs. These sessions are conducted by Business Support Organizations (BSOs). Sign up for business advising here.

Who is eligible for small business advising?

To be eligible, your business must be located in either Suburban Cook County or The City of Chicago.

Access to Capital

GRANTS

BRITE Program

The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES) has established the Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (BRITE) program. This free program helps businesses reduce their environmental impact, create a healthier environment for their employees, customers and community by offering on-site assessments to reduce pollution. Once an assessment has been completed, select businesses will be offered the opportunity to apply for grant funding.

Chicago Recovery Grant for Community Development

Are you a community developer or property owner looking to strengthen the local community through an improvement project? Look here for funding for pre-development, construction, or renovation costs for permanent capital improvement initiatives

Leadcare Cook County

Are you a licensed child care provider located in suburban Cook County? LeadCare Cook County supports a safe and healthy learning environment for children by offering free lead service line replacement. When you enroll in LeadCare Cook County, you pay nothing to have a licensed plumber replace your line. Our services also help you comply with lead testing and mitigation requirements set by the Department of Children and Family Services. Click below to learn more and enroll today. 

Small Business Down Payment Grant Program by Bank of America

If your business is a woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) or a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE), BoA invites you to participate in their new Down Payment Program that provides a grant of up to 50% of the required down payment on SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans for owner-occupied commercial real estate in Opportunity Zones within your city. The grant itself, which is not to exceed $25,000, does not have to be repaid. To learn more about this program, schedule an appointment with a Bank of America representative by visiting their website.

Soda Cans Concessionaire Grant

Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) Grants

The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) provides grant funding for permanent building improvements and repairs across the city. Offered by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to tenants and owners of industrial and commercial properties, SBIF grants are funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues in designated TIF districts citywide. Program participants can receive grants to cover between 30 percent and 90 percent of the cost of remodeling work, with a maximum grant of $150,000 for commercial properties and $250,000 for industrial properties. The grant, which is administered by SomerCor on the City’s behalf, does not have to be repaid.

Soda Cans Concessionaire Grant

West Side United 2023 Small Business Grant

West Side United is now accepting applications for the 2023 Small Business Grant. The West Side United Small Business Grant was piloted in 2018 with the goal of increasing economic opportunities in Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods by offering unrestricted grants to entrepreneurs and small businesses. In addition to access to capital, this grant program is intended to connect businesses aspiring to scale their businesses by securing vendor contracts with WSU partner organizations. West Side United will be awarding one (1) $10,000 grant to each selected business. Deadline to apply: December 15, 2023

LOANS

Advantage Illinois' Loan Guarantee Program

Advantage Illinois' Loan Guarantee Program supports business applicants who are having difficulty gaining access to capital by using funds to guarantee a percentage of loans provided by partner lenders. Advantage Illinois accelerates investments and eases the credit crunch for small businesses, thanks to more than $78 million from the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Find a list of participating lenders, FAQs and more here.

Allies for Community Business Loan Opportunities

Apply for reliable and flexible loans ranging from $500 to $100,000. View loan opportunities provided by Allies for Community Business here.

BMO Harris SBA Loans

As a preferred SBA (Small Business Administration) lender, BMO can process your government small business loan so you can get back to business. Explore our variety of SBA loan programs to support your business needs.

Community Micro Equity Fund

There is an Equity Capital Gap for Black, low-to-moderate income, and other diverse entrepreneurs. Funded through The PNC Foundation, the Community Micro Equity Fund is a collaboration between Greenwood Archer Capital and Sunshine Enterprises that aims to fill this gap by providing equity to leverage debt or to offer equity when debt is not a viable option.

The program will create an ecosystem of support which will include business education, working capital, credit repair coaching, incubation and access to co-working space, patient mezzanine equity and strategic, ongoing mentoring.

Greenwood Archer Capital

Greenwood Archer Capital (GAC) has a portfolio of microenterprise and small business loan products that are designed to help you find the financing and services you need. GAC’s suite of products are offered with the intention and purpose to level the playing field for Black and other underserved small businesses. Learn more about our programs and how a GAC small business loan can help you reach your goals this year.

Hello Alice Small Business Financing Marketplace

Say goodbye to long, complicated loan and financing applications. Hello Alice’s Small Business Financing Marketplace saves you time and quickly gets you the money your small business needs. The Financing Marketplace, powered by Lendflow, connects you to more than 90+ lenders and other financing companies for loans. All it takes is one simple form. 

Kiva Capital Opportunities

Kiva is a non-profit that expands access to capital for entrepreneurs around the world. More than 2.5 million people have raised over $1 billion on Kiva. Kiva provides loans of up to $15,000 at 0% interest. Additionally, you have the opportunity to Market your product to Kiva's community of 1.6 million supportive lenders.

Nerdwallet Small Business Grants

Small-business grants provide free money for startups and existing businesses, including those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

It takes time and effort to research and apply for funding, but the payoff can be worth it if you secure a grant for your small business. To help you get started, here’s a list of federal, state and private small-business grants and resources.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance

Was your business impacted by severe storms and flooding occurring between June 29th to July 2nd, 2023? Cook County small businesses located within a declared disaster area may be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Learn more about available disaster loans and requirements by following the link below.

SDA Online Lending Platform

The Southland Development Authority is pleased to offer Connect2Capital, an online lending platform to give small businesses a safe, smart alternative to for-profit online lenders with high interest rates. SDA’s network of mission-driven nonprofit lender partners offer small business loans for working capital and equipment needs from $5,000 to $100,000 and up.

Self-Help's Chicago Food Enterprise Loans

Are you an entrepreneur of color who is transforming Chicago's healthy food landscape? View Chicago Food Enterprise Loans that offer patient debt financing, low interest rates, and flexible capital to borrow here.

Self-Help’s Pivot Loan

Has your small business suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Self-Help’s Pivot Loan is intended to help small businesses access the low-interest, flexible capital needed to pivot to better days. Find more information about the Pivot Loan here. 

Small Business Lending at Northwest Community Credit Union

Small businesses are an incredibly important part of our local economies. Northwest Community Credit Union recognizes their contribution to a healthy community, which is why we’ve been working on a small business lending program designed to help our small business members get the money they need for their businesses. Our small business lending program consists of four product suites: Lines of Credit, Vehicle Loans, Credit Cards, and Term Loans. Any business with 2 – 50 employees that’s been operating for at least 2 years is able to apply.

SomerCor

SomerCor plays a critical role in filling the financing gap for businesses that face barriers to traditional loans and for those that want to preserve working capital. They facilitate an impactful range of financing options available for new and growing businesses in Illinois. It’s their role to help your small businesses navigate these options, to select the most advantageous financing product (or products), and to guide you through the entire process.

Wintrust SBA Loans

Successful business owners know: the more resources you have, the better off your business is. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans can provide a lending option for a number of different needs and our award-winning team of SBA lending specialists is dedicated to helping you through the process.

Women’s Business Development Center Capital Offerings

Are you an early-stage business in Northeast Illinois seeking financing? Find startup loans up to $25,000 provided by the Women’s Business Development Center here.


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