About Us

Main Content

2021 Small Business Community Navigator Program 

The Small Business Community Navigators Program is a support program for small businesses in the State of Illinois. The program targets businesses in Illinois who are identified as underserved including minority, rural, veteran and women owned businesses. Underserved businesses may find resources difficult to access, or simply be unaware of services and resources available. The Small Business Community Navigator Program is specifically targeted at alleviating these issues and reducing the barriers underserved businesses often face when trying to access relief program dollars.

The program is a hub and spoke model, bringing together community organizations from across the State of Illinois. The spokes will offer grassroots engagement with small businesses to assist with access to grants, financial planning, marketing outreach, and technical assistance. Community Navigators will be tasked with informing the Illinois business community of state small business relief grants, as well as federal support available from the Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury. Community Navigator assistance may include applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Shuttered Venues Operators’ Grants, Restaurant Revitalization Grants, traditional SBA loans, and opportunities such asBack 2 Business economic recovery grant program from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. These navigators will provide access to economic support and cutting-edge resources vital to the recovery effort our businesses are now facing in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do Community Navigators do?

Community navigators provide the following services:

  • Outreach to hard-to-reach or underserved businesses to raise awareness of opportunities for federal or state support
  • 1-on-1 technical assistance to small businesses to help them understand eligibility and apply for economic support
  • Offer services in multiple languages
  • Share information on small business barriers with DCEO to ensure programming is accessible

The awardees below will provide support and training services to the spokes in their programs, who will in turn, venture out into their respective communities and engage our small businesses.

Community Navigator Hubs

  • American Business Immigration Coalition (Serving Sangamon, Macon, McLean, Cook, Winnebago, Jackson)
  • Champaign County Economic Development Corporation (Serving Macon, SBDC - Shelby; Champaign, Piatt, Douglas, Vermilion, SBDC - Ford, Iroquois; SBDC - DeWitt; SBDC - Moultrie, Coles, Edgar, Cumberland, Effingham)
  • Cook County (Serving Cook County, city of Chicago and suburbs)
  • Economic Development Council for the Peoria Area (Serving Logan, Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Mason, Fulton)
  • Effingham Regional Growth Alliance (Serving Coles, Crawford, Effingham, Clark, Edgar, Moultrie)
  • Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (Serving Chicago Southside, South Suburbs, Eastern Will county, and all of Kankakee county; Chicago’s Washington Heights Neighborhood, from Auburn-Gresham south to the boundary with the South Suburbs)
  • Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission (Serving Wabash, Edwards, Wayne, Jefferson, Perry, Jackson, Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Pope, Hardin, Gallatin, White, Hamilton, Franklin, Williamson, Johnson, and Saline; Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Saint Claire, Monroe, Randolph, Washington, Clinton, Bond)
  • Illinois Public Health Association (Serving Springfield, Jacksonville, Beardstown, Cook, Will McHenry, Fairfield, Cobden, East St. Louis, Boone, Winnebago, Rock Island, Mercer, Henry, Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Lee, Stephenson, and Ogle)
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Serving Sangamon, Shelby, McLean, Peoria, Cook, Coles, Douglas, Moultire, Cumberland, Edgar, Clark)
  • Mexican American Chamber of Commerce DBA Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Serving EDR 4 Waukegan, North Chicago, Joliet, Aurora, Romeoville, Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Maywood, Bellwood, Northfield, Stone Park, Humboldt Park, West Town, Logan Square, Belmont-Cragin, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Little Village, Midway, Back of the Yards, Pilsen, Westlawn)
  • National Main Street Center Inc (Serving Jacksonville, Monticello, Pontiac, Crystal Lake, Batavia, Libertyville, 7 Commercial Districts in Chicago, Momence, Waukegan, Dixon, Silvis, Carbondale, Alton, Quincy)
  • Western Illinois University, Board of Trustees (Serving Knox, Warren, Henderson, Hancock, McDonough, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Adams)
  • Women's Business Development Center (Serving DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will; Particularly the Greater Aurora Region)
Learn More