April 24, 2014

City of Chicago and Partner Agencies Making a Difference for Small Businesses

Mika Stambaugh, Director of Communications
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection     312.744.5365

For Immediate Release

Help! We can all use a little help with work tasks. For those running a small business, a little help can go a long way, but many small business owners are finding the extra support from the City of Chicago’s partner agencies, which are called Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDCs).

NBDCs are non-profit business organizations committed to business success and thriving neighborhoods and funded by the City of Chicago. They assist with a wide range of business services such as getting new small businesses started, troubleshooting City-related issues, connecting businesses to financial resources, offering consumer marketing assistance, and providing business-to-business networking opportunities.

One local business that found help from an NBDC is Nature’s Little Recyclers, who turned to the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC).

“We helped them find a location using Site Selector, understand their licensing needs, assisted them with preparation for a crowd funding festival, and have continued to provide marketing and business planning support” said Business Recruitment Manager Roger Sosa, of the BYNC. “They will be participants in our Farmers Market starting in May.”

They are not the only business finding help at BYNC. The organization helped El Lindo Michoacan deal with an ADA compliance issue. It also provides frequent business seminars in the community.

“We had two financial services seminars attended by about a dozen business people,” said Sosa. “We had a seminar on Wireless Communications and that was attended by about a dozen people, and we have held a very successful safety meeting with almost 30 attendees.”

Chicago is a City with a strong, engaged business community, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is committed to being a partner with small businesses.  Recently, Mayor Emanuel announced two new online tools for small business that make it easy for a business to access critical information and services that will help them get started and grow their businesses — a  new Small Business Center (SBC) website and Site Selector.

The SBC website is available in English and Spanish and serves as a virtual one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who want to apply for their business license online, get information about business licenses, connect to neighborhood resources, and information on how to access capital.

Site Selector is a free, web-based tool for small business owners searching for commercial sites available for lease or sale.  

Mayor Emanuel has made a commitment to help businesses access capital and get connected to entities specializing in capital for businesses. On the SBC website, there is detailed information on loans, grants, and incentives available for businesses. Rather than a business being on its own looking for the information, it’s available on the website and business can customize to suit their needs.

To support start-up businesses with small, but meaningful capital needs, the City seeded a micro-loan program. The program partners are Accion, Women’s Business Development Center and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.  The initial $1 million invested allowed more than 100 neighborhood entrepreneurs realize their dreams by starting or expanding their own business, where traditional lenders typically turn down such small loans (75% of loans are under $10k)

More information about the City of Chicago’s Small Business Center is available at www.cityofchicago.org/SBC. Site Selector can be found at http://www.worldbusinesschicago.com/site-selector.

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