Chicagoland resources to help grow your business

SimpleGrowth is the first lending platform built to strengthen the ability of Chicagoland small business owners to gain the capital they need to launch or grow their businesses. A key part of this work involves helping entrepreneurs access affordable, high-quality resources and assistance to build their business skills.

SimpleGrowth partners with business assistance centers that provide free and low-cost aid for entrepreneurs who need helping starting and growing their businesses. SimpleGrowth’s business assistance directory features vetted, local resource centers that provide in-person guidance and coaching for individuals who need help with a business plan or developing their business skills. In addition, they educate business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs about how to become more financially fit to access credit on the lending marketplace.

The business assistance centers listed below show a strong commitment to their communities, are action-oriented and responsive to the needs of aspiring and established entrepreneurs, are fully accessible and serve everyone. To learn more or see if your organization qualifies for this list, please contact us.

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SimpleGrowth was extremely helpful for my business. They pointed us to marketing resources that allowed us to grow our business exponentially.

Assistance Areas

Financial capacity and management

Business Planning and strategy

Marketing and research

Legal, licensing and permitting

Chicago Small Business Grants

Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF)

The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) provides grant funding for permanent building improvements and repairs across the city. Offered by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to tenants and owners of industrial and commercial properties, SBIF grants are funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues in designated TIF districts citywide. Program participants can receive grants to cover between 30 percent and 90 percent of the cost of remodeling work, with a maximum grant of $150,000 for commercial properties and $250,000 for industrial properties. The grant, which is administered by SomerCor on the City’s behalf, does not have to be repaid.

Bank of America, Small Business Down Payment Program

Dedicated to women and minority-owned businesses, this non-repayable grant is for up to $25,000 on SBA owner occupied commercial real estate loans for business locations within select areas. Eligibility Self-identify as a minority or women-owned business (representing at least 51% ownership of the business) For purchasing owner-occupied commercial real estate via our SBA solutions

LISC and Uber Eats, Black Restaurant Fund

The Black Restaurant Fund provides growth capital to Black restaurants and those serving the Black community. Growth Capital is an innovative financing product that gives business owners the time they need to invest in and stabilize their companies. Unlike loan products, growth capital does not have fixed repayment terms; instead it is designed as a long-term investment where businesses repay only when they are successful in growing their revenue.

LISC and Uber Eats, Black Restaurant Fund

To help support 1 million small businesses by 2030, Verizon has partnered with LISC to launch a third round of grant funding, open to small businesses who are active users on Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. Over the course of the year, Verizon will be deploying more than $1M in total grant funding to small businesses.