Chicago for Business
Chicago is a city that is defined by a vibrant cultural scene and a fiercely competitive business community. Chicago has one of the most dynamic economies in the United States and is home to 12 Fortune 500 companies. This reputation as one of the top business centers in the United States has made business development something of a hallmark of the city. As a result, there are many small business development centers and "business incubator" programs throughout the city. Understanding the resources at hand for small, developing businesses can be a key component in future success
The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago
The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago focuses its business development efforts along the Kinzie Industrial Corridor. The object of the organization is to strengthen job growth and business retention within the industrial sectors of Chicago's economy. This involves providing professional services and assistance to small businesses either for free or at a reduced cost. The organization has been around since 1967 and it has provided assistance to more than 2,000 businesses inside of the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.
The Duman Microenterprise Center
The Duman Microenterprise Center is an organization that focuses its efforts on start-ups and existing small businesses throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. The Duman Center provides assistance to many different types of businesses. Everything from stores to software companies have benefited from the assistance provided by the experts at the Duman Microenterprise Center. Some of the services offered here include entrepreneurial training, mentoring, assistance on starting a business and even potential access to start-up capital. One of the most popular programs offered through the Duman Microenterprise Center is the low-interest loan program. Business owners can apply for low-interest loans for up to $15,000.
University of Illinois at Chicago Business Development Center
The Business Development Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago has an extremely large range of resources available for small business owners. Due to its affiliation with the college, this center has access to working professionals and professors who can assist business owners. The development center hosts discussion panels with business leaders, workshops for business owners and provides mentoring to new businesses. There are a wide range of options available to new or potential business owners who want to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
Women's Business Development Center
This development center is a non-profit that is geared specifically toward meeting the needs of woman-owned businesses throughout the Chicago metro area. It is widely known as the largest network of woman entrepreneurs in the Chicago area. It is also one of the top networking organizations for woman-owned businesses throughout the midwest. The Women's Business Development Center provides business training, mentoring, seminars and start-up counseling to start-ups and small woman-owned businesses. The development center also hosts the Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference every year in Chicago.
Hull House is well-known for its systematic, practical approach toward helping new businesses build themselves up. The specific area of focus for Hull House is in the traditionally under-served communities of north and south Chicago. The business development center at Hull House approaches business development by providing business owners with very specific development services. For example, Hull House offers one-on-one counseling sessions with potential business owners instead of relying completely on group seminars. The development center also provides business training courses that help business owners navigate the various legal and financial hurdles associated with business ownership. Hull House's focus is turned mostly toward helping businesses develop in communities of need as a way to raise the standard of living.
The Hispanic Entrepreneurship Center
The Hispanic Entrepreneurship Center is a project that is closely tied to the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The center works with both start-ups and with established local businesses on a broad range of topics. For start-ups, the center offers development services that help navigate through the process of starting a business. This includes business plan development, planning finance projections, legal frameworks and many other topics. Established small businesses can also apply for low-interest loans for building the capacity of their business.
The Chicago Urban League
The business development center at the Chicago Urban League provides business development assistance to a very diverse range of businesses. The center provides business counseling services that help business owners make the right planning decisions for their company. The Chicago Urban League also provides classes on business documents and management systems. Apart from its education efforts, the Chicago Urban League's business development center also provides funding to qualifying businesses in the Chicago metro area.
Many small and start up businesses begin at home, venturing out to rented offices at the next stage of their development, most often when they are ready to take on staff. Because owning an office is a long term commitment many opt to rent or lease space. But even leasing can be cumbersome and costly for a fledgling enterprise and comes with the additional costs of fit outs, furniture, equipment, legal fees and so on. There are cheaper, simpler options available, such as the space often offered by business incubators, shared space, hotdesking and flexible office rental, that doesn't require high up front costs and lengthy lease terms of 3 to 5 years.
A Vibrant Place for Business
Chicago is a city with a very active, extremely dynamic business community. This is due in part to the city's standing as a financial center. However, it's also due to the efforts of the many business development centers that work tirelessly to empower local business.