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Illinois to open more small-business development centers, including 5 in Chicago, to help COVID-19 recovery

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 7/2/2020 By Abdel Jimenez, Chicago Tribune
a close up of a sign in front of a building: An Illinois flag flies in front of the Capitol building in Springfield. © Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS An Illinois flag flies in front of the Capitol building in Springfield.

Illinois will invest $11.5 million to open seven small-business development centers, including five in Chicago, to support businesses hurt by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and damaged during widespread civil unrest in early June.

The Chicago sites announced Wednesday will be located at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Build Bronzeville initiative through the Urban Juncture Foundation, Rogers Park Business Alliance and the Chinese Mutual Aid Association. Other locations are being managed by Joliet Junior College and Elgin Community College.

The Illinois Small Business Development Centers program has sites throughout the state that offer small firms assistance with development plans, help applying for state and federal emergency assistance programs and other business-related topics. The centers are funded in part by the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the U.S. Small Business Administration, universities, community colleges and other local institutions.

The $11.5 million investment in the program includes $6.4 million from the state and the SBA as well as $5.1 million from partner organizations. The state said the money will be used to launch new locations and fund the existing 35 Small Business Development Centers across the state.

“With many Illinois businesses currently facing unprecedented burdens as a result of COVID-19 and recent civil unrest, our SBDC community partners can be a lifeline for businesses working to reopen safely,” Michael Negron, acting director for the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said in a statement.

Negron said the centers will help small businesses apply for funding through the Business Interruption Grant and Rebuild Distressed Communities program, which are geared toward businesses that sustained losses during the pandemic and civil unrest after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police in late May. The deadline to apply for the Business Interruption Grant is July 7, and the Rebuild Distressed Communities program will run through August.

Tonya Trice, executive director of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, said the neighborhood has been hit hard by business losses during the pandemic and damage caused by looting.

“The new SBDC couldn’t have come at a better time for our community and will help our business owners with tailored solutions to serve their needs,” Trice said in a statement.

The Small Business Development Centers have also helped small-business owners applying for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small business hit hard by the pandemic. The state said the centers have helped more than 300 businesses receive $30 million in grants and loans from state and federal programs.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of money the Small Business Development Centers helped secure companies through state and federal assistance programs. It also misstated the amount of money businesses are eligible for through the Business Interruption Grant and Rebuild Distressed Communities Program.

abjimenez@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @abdel1019

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©2020 the Chicago Tribune

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