Photo Credit: Azadeh Khastoo

Photo Credit: Azadeh Khastoo

City of Chicago

The Chicago region boasts a wealth of public and private entities providing resources, intelligence, guidance, and direct assistance to businesses and entrepreneurs. These organizations are available to help simplify the process of starting a new business or growing established ones.

The Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection’s mission is to empower businesses to grow and succeed by providing information and services to help businesses act responsibly and create economic vitality and vibrant communities for the people of Chicago. Visit the Small Business Center for information on starting a business in Chicago. The City has created helpful guides for specific industries, such as Chicago’s Guide to Restaurants and Retail Food Establishments. Additionally, the City offers a number of free business workshops at City Hall (121 N LaSalle, Rm 805).

State of Illinois

For prospective or current business owners the State of Illinois provides a wide variety of information and resources on some of the most common business concerns. You can find information on starting and managing a business, applicable laws & regulations, and business forms.

Federal Government

The Small Business Administration helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses.

Jane Adams Hull House Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Hull House Small Business Development Center provides a wide range of small business training and counseling programs to new and existing businesses. Hull House offers specific business programs aimed at the community. These include projects that help refugees obtain micro-loans to start or expand a business, or programs that encourage youth entrepreneurship at a local public high school. Programs and services include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Small Business Training
  • Small Business Workshops
  • Networking events
  • Special project with Latino and Refugee entrepreneurs

SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) Chicago

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth, and success of small businesses nationwide. The Chicago Chapter of SCORE provides counseling, management consulting, and low cost workshops and other resources (like templates for a business plan) to entrepreneurs and small businesses through locations in the Chicago area.

JVS Chicago – Illinois SBDC Duman Microenterprise Center

Improving life through employment and productivity recognizing that personal development is a lifetime endeavor. The SBDC at the Duman Microenterprise Center provides one-on-one counseling at no charge for start-ups and existing small businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Center offers entrepreneurial training, business assistance, mentoring and access to capital. The Center has been helping small business owners since 2001.

Local First Chicago

The mission of Local First Chicago is to build thriving, local communities by

  • Educating citizens, community groups and policy makers to build and support sustainable communities.
  • Connecting and promoting locally owned independent businesses;
  • Training businesses and other parties in socially, environmentally and economically sustainable practices
  • Local First Chicago periodically organizes workshops and training programs.

Women’s Business Development Center

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is a nationally and internationally recognized not-for-profit organization established in 1986 to work with women to launch new businesses and strengthen existing businesses in the Chicago area. WBDC services are available in Spanish and English, and include business assessments, loan packaging, public and private sector procurement assistance, classes/workshops, and individualized counseling on all aspects of business development, management, and strategy.

Chicago Community Ventures (CCV)

CCV works with established small businesses in the Chicagoland area with a focus on companies in low and moderate income areas, and firms owned by minorities or women. CCV provides its services at little or no cost to small businesses to help them achieve growth so they in turn can provide opportunities within their communities.

  • Loans
  • One-on-one advising

DePaul University Coleman Entrepreneurship Center

As part of DePaul University’s Entrepreneurship Program, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center is an outreach center offering consulting services, educational programs, and resources for students and entrepreneurs throughout Chicagoland and in the various stages of The Entrepreneurial Quest®.

  • Angel investment preparation and fundraising assistance
  • Business modeling and planning
  • Maximizing sales with practical marketing strategies
  • Exit and owner transition planning

The Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center

The Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) and affiliated support organizations help manufacturers with productivity, technology modernization, and enhanced business practices. They are targeted to small and mid-sized Illinois manufacturers and they help identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; compile a report where a company stands on more than 50 performance indicators; and help address various manufacturing needs such as manufacturing modernization, quality assurance, best manufacturing practices, product development, and market development.

Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) is a nonprofit affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce that seeks to make a perceptible and lasting economic impact on the Chicago region by helping entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses build viable, sustainable, and profitable enterprises. The CEC works with entrepreneurs to create and sustain opportunities for business success, job growth, and profitability. The CEC:

  • Works with entrepreneurs located throughout the six counties of Northeastern Illinois.
  • Works primarily with businesses in the early-growth stage.
  • Offers entrepreneurs advisory services and face-to-face introductions to help with their financing and sales needs.
  • Provides guidance through our extensive network of experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders.
  • Hosts events at which entrepreneurs can learn strategies necessary to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Chicago Sustainable Business Association

The CSBA supports members in integrating sustainable business principles to generate a more profitable, environmentally respectful, and socially responsible Chicago economy. This mission is achieved through:

  • Networking to create business opportunities
  • Education to enable informed decision-making
  • Promotion of a more sustainable business environment with the government, media, and public
  • Fostering a community of information, referrals, and peer-based learning

Legal Clinics for Small Businesses

The Law Project and the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) are offering Free Legal Clinics in order to assist small businesses with legal matters.

The Law Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights provides free legal assistance, education and training to community based nonprofit organizations, low/moderate income entrepreneurs and low-income first time homebuyers.  To learn more about The Law Project or to apply for legal assistance visit The Law Project website here or contact at or 312-939-3638.

67 Solid Resources when Starting a Business in Illinois