First Stop Business Information Center

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First Stop Business Information Center

 

The First Stop Business Information Center provides comprehensive information and technical support to businesses with questions and concerns about mitigations, government regulations and business assistance programs.

 

Our business specialists can be reached at 1-800-252-2923 or ceo.firststop@illinois.gov.

Para información en español por favor llamar al 1-800-252-2923 o envíe su mensaje por medio del correo electrónico a ceo.firststop@illinois.gov.

 

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**Attention Small Businesses**

Expanded Technical Assistance and Resources Available to Assist During COVID-19

With new rounds of federal COVID-19 emergency funding programs opening for applications, the Illinois Department of Commerce (DCEO) has expanded direct support available to businesses to help them learn which programs they may qualify for, how to navigate application processes, and to get further assistance that can help recover and grow their business.  These resources are available to help with accessing the renewed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other programs set to launch in the coming weeks, including the EIDL Advance and Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant programs. Details from the Small Business Administration available here.


Businesses in need of information and assistance have several options including the Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Community Navigators, DCEO's Office of Regional Economic Development (Team RED) and Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE). More information on the State's expanded small business assistance, including nearly 100 virtual events hosted through the end of February, can be found below.


  • Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs):  Illinois SBDCs provide one-on-one counseling, assistance with navigating best options for financial support programs, technical assistance with documentation requirements to prepare applications, and more.  Find your nearest SBDC here

 

  • Community Navigators:  The state is working with 12 community navigators - grassroots organizations connected with other community services. Community navigators can help determine your eligibility for programs, assist with documents, and refer to other specialized services. A full list of community navigators can be found here.

 

  • DCEOOffice of Regional Economic Development (Team RED) and the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE):  These DCEO teams provide targeted referrals and counseling for economic opportunities to businesses and communities based on geography (Team RED) and in support of minority enterprises including racial/ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veteran-owned businesses (OMEE). To connect with your area Team RED member, please click here.  To connect with OMEE, please click here.

              

First Stop also provides entrepreneurs and small business owners with: 


TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE WEBINARS AND EVENTS   

DCEO teams and partner organizations will host or sponsor more than 100 webinars held from now until late February. The following webinars will cover technical assistance questions related to the PPP application, informational resources for businesses seeking assistance on EIDL, and upcoming EIDL Advance loan and SVO grant programs.  Click the webinar titles below for more information and to register. 



​DATE
​TIME (CST)
TRAINING/EVENT INFORMATION
​2/25/21
​8:00AM
​Excel Advanced
Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at College of Lake County
​2/25/21
​10:00AM
​Localization Strategy: Optimizing Online Presence for Global Expansion
Hosted by the Illinois ITC at College of DuPage
​2/25/21
​1:00PM
​Social Media - Tools to Stay Connected
Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at Joseph Center
​2/25/21​3:00PM

DCEO’s Regional Economic Development Team weekly office hours

These sessions are designed as open times that the Team is available. The Team will provide you with the latest updates and answer any questions you may have on state or federal programs. Feel free to drop in for any assistance you need. If these times do not work for you, please reach out to your regional Team RED representative. 3PM-4PM

​2/25/21
3:00PM
Starting Your Small Business in Illinois
Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at SIU-E
​2/26/21​10:00AM

​DCEO's Regional Economic Development Team Weekly Office Hours

These sessions are designed as open times that the Team is available. The Team will provide you with the latest updates and answer any questions you may have on state or federal programs. Feel free to drop in for any assistance you need. If these times do not work for you, please reach out to your regional Team RED representative. 10AM-11AM