Small Business Set-Aside Program

What is the Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSP)?

SBSP is the State of Illinois program that reserves certain types of contracts so that small businesses only can compete for them. Procurements in 66 set-aside categories, and all contracts of $50,000 and less, must be set-aside for qualified small businesses in the Small Business Set-Aside Program. 

Why should I register for SBSP certification?

The State of Illinois purchases more than $10 billion worth of supplies and services every year. If your business is found to be eligible, your chance of obtaining a contract with the State will improve since you will only be competing with other Illinois small businesses for SBSP designated contracts. You will also receive e-mail notifications of solicitations that may be suited for your type of business.

How does the State determine which contracts to set-aside?

There are currently 66  Small Business Set-Aside Categories that have been specifically set-aside for small businesses. Also, a large number of contracts under $50,000 are set-aside for Illinois small business competition.

How can I determine if my small business may be eligible to participate?

You may become certified as a small business if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Your wholesale business annual sales and receipts were $10 million or less.
  • Your retail business annual sales and receipts were $6 million or less.
  • Your construction business annual sales and receipts were $10 million or less.
  • Your manufacturing company employs 250 people or less.

How do I apply for SBSP qualification?

Visit the Registration page and complete all the Steps that apply to your company. If you are a small Illinois business per Section 11 of the Bidder’s Application Form, you may qualify for the Small Business Set-Aside program and will be notified when you’re registered.

How long does it take to become qualified?

The qualification process may take 5-10 business days after the required forms are received.

When do I need to get requalified?

Qualification is valid for three years. However, if your company's annual revenues grow to the point where they exceed the threshold to qualify for the SBSP, it is your responsibility to notify the Small Business Program at 217 558-3723 or email

Companies not eligible for the SBSP who accept a contract set aside for small business risk suspension from doing future business with the State for up five years, and may be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

If I have questions about the program or need assistance completing the required forms, who can I contact?

If you have questions about SBSP, contact the Small Business State Purchasing Officer  at 1(217)558-3723 or email

What other resources does the State provide to help small businesses?

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has established Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) throughout Illinois to provide assistance and training to small businesses who are interested in contracting with the state, and has also developed Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to help entrepreneurs start and sustain small businesses. To locate a PTAC or SBDC, please call 1-800-252-2923 or visit Illinois Entrepreneurship Network.


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