Last week the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a new $7.3 million investment from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program – a statewide network focused solely on supporting Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs in starting, growing and maintaining their businesses. There is no cost to small business owners for SBDC services. In the wake of COVID-19, SBDCs have played a vital role in connecting businesses with support resources and assistance programs designed to help keep businesses afloat.
New funding will bolster the SBDC network of 40 community-based teams to provide additional resources for education, training and professional business advising to small businesses that have experienced supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a decrease in gross receipts or customers, or a closure as a result of COVID-19.
New funding will support SBDC host organizations to increase assistance and expand outreach for small businesses across the state, with a concerted effort to reach businesses owned by minorities, women, persons with disabilities, veterans and those located in rural areas.
With 40 full-time Illinois SBDCs located throughout Illinois – more than any SBDC Network in the nation – Illinois’ SBDCs have been at the front lines supporting small businesses when they need it most, providing no-cost, direct confidential business guidance, access to capital, information, training, and other resources to start-up and existing small businesses.
Illinois SBDCs have seen a demonstrable increase in interactions with businesses due to the crisis, and staff members continue to work full-time helping businesses in spite of the crisis. Since the beginning of March, SBDCs have seen a 54% increase in businesses served through one-on-one sessions and trainings, relative to the same time frame last year. These efforts have helped approximately 182 unique businesses get access to an estimated $19 million in grants and loans from state and federal programs in recent weeks. These businesses employ a combined 34,000 workers throughout the state.