Chicago, IL – From Englewood to Edgewater, the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is making an impact in its first year by helping to add neighborhood jobs and create business expansion. More than 160 entrepreneurs have benefited from the Chamber’s free advisory services tailored to meet the diverse needs of small businesses.

Examples of the program’s neighborhood success stories include: Tess Kearns of All Natural Chicago on the Near West Side made two new hires; Maria Sigman of Salon Echo in Edgewater made three new hires; Jeremy Kanne of Smart Yeti Studios in River North obtained a microloan to start a business; and Quilen Blackwell of Blackwell Energies in Englewood formed a partnership with a Fortune 500 company.

During its first year, the Chamber’s SBDC provided more than 350 office hours to more than 160 clients from its headquarters in the Wrigley Building and from nine neighborhood locations. The program helps small businesses and entrepreneurs from across the city and suburbs and a wide range of industries. In addition to assistance with one-on-one business planning, market research, marketing plans, dealing with local government and technology training, the SBDC offers the following free services:

  • How to Start A Business in Illinois workshops
  • Legal Clinic, featuring Chicago’s leading law firms
  • Best practice marketing webinar series

“When you think about how Chicago operates, it is the neighborhood and family-owned small businesses that provide economic support for residents in those communities,” said Florence Hardy, Director of the SBDC. “Because we are supported by a regional Chamber with a direct connection to those neighborhoods, we are able to provide guidance and access to resources that other SBDCs cannot. We know that when our local business owners thrive, the neighborhoods thrive.”

By partnering with neighborhood Chambers, incubators, law firms and universities to offer free office hours and other resources, the SBDC is able to help local businesses grow through more than just workshops and training.

“The SBDC made more than 500 connections for its clients during its first year, helping them grow their businesses by expanding their networks and finding new partners,” said Katie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Programs for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “For example, law firms Balough Law Offices, LLC; Business Enterprise Law Clinic at the John Marshall Law School; Barnes and Thornberg; Hinshaw and Culbertson, LLP; and Holland and Knight all provided free guidance through the Legal Clinic to SBDC clients over the past year.”

Illinois Small Business Development Centers have been providing assistance to Illinois businesses since 1984. The Centers have served over 1,063,416 pre-venture and existing small businesses and have assisted clients secure access to over $3.25 billion in debt and equity business financing. For more information on the Illinois Small Business Development Center network, click here.

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce combines the power of people 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