Business Assistance

Starting and managing your own business can seem like a daunting task. The following resources will help entrepreneurs develop funding sources and training for their current or future businesses.

Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance provides FREE tools, resources, and confidential services to entrepreneurs and small businesses across Bureau, LaSalle, and Livingston Counties. The GLCEDC hosts the SBDC once a week in its office at 210 West Water Street in Pontiac.

To schedule an appointment:
Amy Lambert
Executive Director,
Illinois Small Business Development Center
Starved Rock Country Alliance

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.

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.  

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. 

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. 

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.

Small Business Innovation Research
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

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.

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.

Employer Training Investment Program
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.

Illinois Investment Network
The Illinois Investment Network is an online matching service connecting Illinois entrepreneurs looking for funding with investors looking for profitable business opportunities. 

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.

Online Training through the Small Business Association
Free online training’s on the following topics are provided through SBA: Buying a Business, Competitive Advantage, Financing a Small Business, How to Write a Business Plan, and Legal Requirements for Small Businesses to name just a few.

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.

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

Additional Resources

Economic Development Organizations

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.

Illinois Business Registration
This website provides step by step instructions on business registration and filing taxes.

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. 

IRS: Small Business and Self-Employment Tax Center
The IRS has established a site specifically for small business owners and self-employed individuals.

Sell 2 Illinois
The State purchases billions 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. 


In addition to the GLCEDC County-funded Loan Program, there are numerous local, state and federal agencies available to offer assistance to Livingston County businesses, manufacturers and farmers. The GLCEDC works to broker new relationships with these key development agencies and entities throughout the state. In doing so, the organization links our area businesses with government partners offering unique assistance and programming.

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.