Business Assistance

Starting and managing your own business can seem to be a daunting task. The following resources will help entrepreneurs develop funding sources and training for their current or future businesses. The Business Assistance page provides entrepreneurs with specific tools to begin or continue running their business and the Government Partners page provides specific information about area programs.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)
DCEO is the lead state agency for commerce and economic opportunity in Illinois. The website provides information on business assistance, workforce development, tourism, and funding opportunities. For more information click here.

State of Illinois Business Portal
This website, established by the State of Illinois, provides information for starting, running, and changing a business. It also contains business news, links to state agencies, and information on grants and loans. For more information click here.

U.S Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA was established in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government tasked with aiding, assisting, counseling, and protecting the interests of small businesses. The SBA website contains a wealth of information on planning, managing, and funding your small business. For more information click here.

Federal Programs

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
This is a USDA-wide effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers. The website provides information on grants and loans for local farm businesses and community organizations. For more information click here.

Small Business Administration Financial Assistance Programs
All businesses require money to get off the ground and to continue to grow. SBA resources help you research loan programs, explore options around export financing, learn more about Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), and determine if surety bonds are ideal for your situation. For more information click here.

Small Business Innovation Research
The largest Federal agencies must set aside a percentage (currently 2.5%) of their R and D budget for SBIR projects. In 2008 this represented over $2 billion of available funding. These projects are reserved for our domestic for-profit small businesses that are independently owned and operated by individuals (not large entities). The agencies pose problems, usually tough ones that they need solved to help fulfill their missions. The small businesses are invited to submit proposals for solving them, describing how they’re going to do the work and spend the money (up to $850K in two phases – feasibility and prototype development). The proposals are evaluated and the best ones are funded, based solely on the merits of the planned project, the qualifications of the team, and the potential for turning the technology developed into a business with potential customers being from both the government and the private sector. For more information click here.

USDA Rural Development – Illinois
The USDA Rural Development offices in Illinois offer numerous housing, community development and business programs. Business services include lending programs, development grants, energy efficiency and renewable energy assistance, and more. The USDA Rural Development Program Summary provides a complete list of currently available programs. For more information click here.

Training and Networking

Central Illinois Business Network International (BNI)
BNI (Business Network International) is a business and professional referral organization whose primary purpose is to exchange qualified business referrals and develop word-of-mouth marketing techniques. For more information click here.

Continuing Education at Joliet Junior College
This department serves northern Livingston County and offers the following services; business counseling, manufacturing assessment, information dissemination, and technology brokering services for area companies, comprehensive employment, and training programs for unemployed and underemployed individuals, and more.
For more information click here.

DCEO Employer Training Investment
The Employer Training Investment Program supports the efforts of Illinois workers in upgrading their skill sets. Grants are available for up to 50 percent of the cost of training your company’s employees. For more information click here.

Illinois Entrepreneurship Network
DCEO provides a list of development organizations and educational institutions to support entrepreneurs. For more information click here.

Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley
The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University provides business counseling and support to entrepreneurs and existing businesses. The center holds two free seminars entitled “How to Start a Business” and “Business Plan Preparation.” For more information click here.

Illinois State University Small Business Development Center
The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Illinois State University (SBDC) was established in March 2005 in an effort to help entrepreneurs start new business and improve established businesses. SBDC offers one-on-one assistance in all phases of business activity and a free introductory seminar entitled “Starting Your Business in Illinois.” For more information click here.

Novus was established in 2004 by entrepreneurs in central Illinois to help entrepreneurs connect with each other. This organization offers panel presentations for entrepreneurs on a variety of different topics. For more information click here.

Online Training through the SBA
Free online trainings on the following topics are provided through SBA: Starting a small business, surviving a down economy, business management, financing and accounting, marketing and advertising, government contracting, business planning, e-commerce, international trade, and federal tax training. For more information click here.

Counselors to America’s Small Business at Heartland Community College

Score is a national nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of the nation’s small businesses. Central Illinois SCORE provides free and confidential business advice and counseling tailored to meet the needs of your small business and your personal objectives. Central Illinois SCORE also offers workshops, for a modest fee, for both start-up and in-business entrepreneurs. For more information click here.

Univerity of Illinois REAL
REAL’s mission is to provide timely, high quality analytical economic information for a variety of uses such as public policy decision making by public sector agencies and for strategic marketing in the private sector. REAL’s capabilities revolve around comprehensive state and metropolitan models that integrate econometric and input-output analysis to provide for both impact and forecasting analyses. For more information click here.

weTRaIN is a network of Illinois Community Colleges that provides training, resources, and support services for your workforce needs. For more information click here.

Additional Resources

Central Illinois Development Partnership
CIDP is a partnership between counties, cities, villages and private companies in Central Illinois with the mission of providing professional development opportunities as well as marketing the central Illinois region and the individual communities as a location for business development. For more information click here.

Farm Beginnings
Central Illinois Farm Beginnings™ is a successful, farmer-led training and support program designed to help people plan and launch farm businesses that are economically and environmentally sustainable. Visit the website for more information. For more information click here.

Illinois Business Registration
This website provides step by step instructions on business registration and filing taxes. For more information click here.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Small Business
The IEPA Office of Small Business provides resources and assistance to make the regulations on small business less burdensome. For more information click here.

IRS: Small Business and Self-Employment Tax Center
The IRS has established a site specifically for small business owners and self-employed individuals. For more information on filing your taxes click here.

Odell Public Library
The Odell Public Library recently received a $4,000 “2009: A Tech Odyssey” grant from ISU. Odell Public Library will make the following available for public use: 5 Dell computers, scanner, color printer, video camera, digital camera, laminator, microfilm machine, and several desktop computers. Computer training programs may be available. Call (815) 998-2012 or click here for more information.

Sell 2 Illinois
The State purchases more than $10 billion worth of products and services each year. Are you competing for this business? The State of Illinois buys everything from food to trucks to office furniture to consulting services. Since we run social service facilities, office buildings, garages, state parks and more, the State needs virtually everything consumers and businesses need. For more information click here.