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.

I'm having technical issues with my business advising application. Who should I contact for support?

If you have any questions and/or are encountering technical difficulties, please review information to troubleshoot your situation at the following link. For more specific technical questions please reach out to Submittable’s Customer Support team at support@submittable.com

Business Opportunities

Job Creators Grant from Founders First

Grant Amount: $100,000 total will be awarded to 25 Chicago businesses. Deadline: February 8, 2023. Qualifications: Founder identifies as one of the following: Latinx, Black, Asian, Woman, LGBTQIA+, Military Veteran, or located in a Low-to-Moderate Income area, located in the state of Illinois, current staff of 2-20 employees, will have the ability to add 1-2+ net new premium wage jobs (average $50K in yearly salary and benefits) in the next 12 months and must be a for-profit company with annual revenues between $100K and $3 million.

New Down Payment Program

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.

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. This funding will go towards implementing saving solutions and recommendations on ways to best modernize operations and implement cost saving solutions. Currently, the BRITE program is available to dry cleaning facilities in Cook County. Sign up today in English, Spanish or Korean for a free assessment. In the future, the program will become available to additional businesses including auto body and auto repair shops, metal finishers as well as food and beverage manufacturers.

Soda Cans Concessionaire Grant

Berwyn Shops 2023 Cohort

If you are an emerging entrepreneur, artisan, or maker who is interested in taking your business to the next level, the Berwyn Shops is a great place for you to test out the market. Apply for the Berwyn Shops 2023 Cohort! Berwyn Shops: A Homegrown Project encourages local makers, entrepreneurs, and artisans to take that next step from a pop-up or online store to their very own 12’x15’ storefront. Located at 6931 Roosevelt Road, this retail incubator provides its vendors with the resources they need to succeed: a mini storefront, business education, and promotion. This 7-month program is the ideal environment for small businesses to test out the market before committing to a full-blown store operation.

Soda Cans Concessionaire Grant

Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) Grants

Funds can be used by small businesses and certain nonprofits for permanent building improvements in Chicago. The TIF Districts scheduled to open in October 2022 include 79th/Vincennes, Armitage/Pulaski, Bryn Mawr/Broadway, and Western Avenue North.

— Business properties located in a TIF district where SBIF funds are available and the SBIF is open for applications
— Commercial businesses with gross annual sales up to $9 million on average over the previous three years
— Commercial property owners with net worth up to $9 million and liquid assets up to $500,000
— Industrial businesses with up to 200 full-time employees
— Not a residential project

Soda Cans Concessionaire Grant

Become a Concessionaire in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

From small family-run businesses to large-scale operations, concessionaires of all sizes can apply for a daily or annual Concession Permit to sell food, beverages, goods and services from concession stands, push carts and food trucks at preserves across Cook County.

State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant

In February 2022, the Cook County Small Business Source partnered with the Women’s Business Development Center to host webinars in English and Spanish on the State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Childcare Grants. Watch the recordings of these webinars to hear more about the details, process and requirements for the State of Illinois’ Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants. For more information, watch the webinars here.

Access to Capital

Please check back for future opportunities.