Small business owners connect at the 2015 “Speed Networking” event.

Chicago, IL – While Chicago’s Loop has become a promising destination for relocating corporate headquarters, neighborhoods across the city are the unsung breeding grounds for budding entrepreneurs and emerging small businesses. Through its Small Business Chicago program and the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce continues to make an impact by providing those neighborhood entrepreneurs and business owners the high-quality resources, education and connections they need to grow and expand.

“We maintain a presence in as many of Chicago’s neighborhoods as we can, because we know local small businesses are the anchors of our communities and the economic engine of our region,” said Florence Hardy, Director of the SBDC. “By way of example, I recently met with SBDC client Seth Green and his young business GrowIT! as part of our office hours at the 1871 digital incubator. Thanks to some introductions we made, Seth is now working on a contract with one of the region’s largest zoos.”

Since August 2014, the Chicagoland Chamber SBDC has grown rapidly and now serves more than 300 clients. Small businesses in a variety of industries ranging from retail to tech to business services, those clients have cumulatively created an estimated 50 jobs and retained an estimated 100 jobs in their communities. Hardy has spent hundreds of hours hosting office hours at local chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, incubators and co-working spaces in 14 neighborhoods across the city, including Englewood, Pullman and Rogers Park.

As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen the small business support system in Chicagoland, the Chamber is hosting two events during Crain’s Small Business Week, which takes place May 2 through 7. The first is an interactive panel discussion at South Side tech hub Englewood Blue Business Accelerator on May 3, which will address the critical issue of cybersecurity for small businesses. The other event is Speed Networking, an annual targeted networking event that will take place at The Drake Hotel on May 5.

“According to our Chicagoland Small Business Outlook Survey, technology is a top need for small businesses. This event at Englewood Blue is especially timely given the increasing cybersecurity concerns ,” said Katie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Programs for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “And each year our Chamber Member Survey shows us that networking remains a top priority for Chamber members of all sizes.”

The Chicagoland Chamber remains committed to supporting local entrepreneurs and small businesses through vibrant programming, education and mentoring. To learn more about Small Business Chicago, click here.

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,000 member companies, their 400,000 employees, and over $24 billion in revenue. We combine the power of our membership with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit