The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today joined the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and community members to celebrate the opening of 7 new Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) around the state. An $11.5 million investment to the SBDC program will add new community-based centers and expand the reach of existing SBDCs – bringing the statewide network to a total of 42 locations and making Illinois’ one of the largest SBDC networks in the nation. With many businesses facing losses amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, SBDCs play a critical role in providing businesses with support needed to apply and qualify for state and federal emergency assistance programs. The State’s investments in the SBDC program pave the way for 7 new locations, selected as part of a robust competitive process which required a review of programmatic capacity and ensured host organizations were able to provide matching. Additionally, the review process evaluated geographic needs throughout the system, to ensure coverage and access to SBDCs in areas throughout the state.As a result of new investments, the following brand new SBDC locations have opened or will launch in July:

  • Puerto Rican Cultural Center – Chicago
    • Joliet Junior College – Joliet
    • South Shore Chamber of Commerce – Chicago
    • Elgin Community College – Elgin
    • Build Bronzeville/Urban Juncture Foundation – Chicago
    • Rogers Park Business Alliance – Chicago
    • Chinese Mutual Aid Association – Chicago

A total $11.5 million investment to the program, which includes $6.4 million investment by the state and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) paired with $5.1 million in matching funds from partner organizations. This will support the launch of new locations as well as 35 existing centers throughout the state to ensure thousands of businesses and communities have access to no-cost resources available at SBDCs.New and existing SBDCs are available to help support businesses with applications for the newest relief programs introduced by the State: Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG) and the Rebuild Distressed Communities programs. These programs prioritize assistance for businesses that have experienced significant losses or business interruption due to the pandemic and recent civil unrest. Many of the newest SBDCs are located in or near disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) – which are given preference as part of the new BIG and Rebuild Distressed Communities programs. Applications for these programs are due on July 7 and can be found on DCEO’s website. Throughout the crisis, SBDCs have been working on the front lines with small businesses to help them access economic assistance to help make payroll, address urgent operational needs to pull through these unprecedented times so they safely reopen. These investments since March have helped approximately 324 unique businesses get access to an estimated $30 million in grants and loans from state and federal programs. The State of Illinois has continued to bolster investments in SBDCs in the wake of COVID-19. New funding builds on the $7.3 million in federal CARES Act funding invested by the state earlier this year to assist with expanded outreach and training for businesses. SBDCs are funded in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, universities, community colleges and other local host institutions. The SBDC program is a statewide network focused solely on supporting Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs in starting, growing and maintaining their businesses at no cost. In addition to assistance with grants, SBDCs provide professional one-on-one confidential small business advising and guidance, education, training, business plan development, financial analysis and assistance with access to capital, and more, for start-ups and existing small businesses. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pritzker administration has put in place a menu of new programming and policies geared toward residents, small businesses and communities hit hardest by the virus.  Over the past several weeks, DCEO and the Illinois SBDCs have launched over $150 million in small business relief and assistance programs. For more information on eligibility and how to apply for BIG or Rebuild Distressed Communities, visit DCEO’s website.For more information on where to find a statewide list of SBDC locations, visit:



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