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 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.

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 contact:
Amy Lambert
Executive Director, Illinois Small Business Development Center
Starved Rock Country Alliance

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 largest Federal agencies must set aside a percentage (currently 2.5%) of their R and D budget for SBIR projects. In 2008 this represented over $2 billion of available funding. These projects are reserved for our domestic for-profit small businesses that are independently owned and operated by individuals (not large entities). The agencies pose problems, usually tough ones that they need to be solved to help fulfill their missions. The small businesses are invited to submit proposals for solving them, describing how they’re going to do the work and spend the money (up to $850K in two phases – feasibility and prototype development). The proposals are evaluated and the best ones are funded, based solely on the merits of the planned project, the qualifications of the team, and the potential for turning the technology developed into a business with potential customers being from both the government and the private sector.

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.

DCEO Employer Training Investment
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 Entrepreneurship Network
DCEO provides a list of development organizations and educational institutions to support entrepreneurs.

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. The center holds two free seminars entitled “How to Start a Business” and “Business Plan Preparation.”

Online Training through the Small Business Association
Free online trainings on the following topics are provided through SBA: Starting a small business, surviving a down economy, business management, financing and accounting, marketing and advertising, government contracting, business planning, e-commerce, international trade, and federal tax training.

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 more than $10 billion 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. 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.