Small Business Financial Options: Getting a business loan for a small business of yours can be most times tasking. Starting a new business is quite challenging as much as getting a loan to finance it; because it requires time investment, effort and most importantly capital.
Many small businesses only survive less than five years because of funding woes. That can be attributed to the fact that many small business owners are unaware of how they can secure funding, and which type of funding is most appropriate for their company’s needs.
For businesses operating in Chicago, there are several options for finding and receiving money when it is needed most. Below is a guide to small business loans, grants, and investors specific to small businesses located in Chicago.
Chicago Small Business Loans
Illinois small business owners might seek out conventional financing through Small Business Financial Options. There are several financial institutions offering loans to qualified small businesses operating in the state. Below are several small business loan options from financial institutions in Chicago.
As a micro-lender, Accion offers small business loans to companies headquartered in Illinois that meet certain eligibility requirements. Accion is a nonprofit organization that works with several statewide small business agencies and other organizations to connect businesses to the right loan.
Accion small business loans are available for up to $1 million to businesses that have relatively stable financials and moderate to excellent credit history. Applications for Illinois small business loans with Accion are submitted online.
Village Bank and Trust
The local small business lender, Village Bank and Trust, offers several financing options for qualified companies. With the lender’s term loans, small businesses may be eligible for financing up to $75,000 to help with equipment purchases, expansion, or other long-term business needs.
The bank also offers Small Business Administration (SBA) loans under the 7A, 504, and Express loan programs. Each business application must supply detailed information about the company’s financial history, personal credit history of the owner, and other loans or debts currently outstanding. Applications can be submitted online.
Central Chicago Bank
Another small business loan option is Central Chicago Bank, which provides an array of term loans, real estate financing, and credit lines to qualified businesses in the state. Loan amounts and terms vary depending on the credit quality of the business applying, as well as the intended use of the loan proceeds.
Applications for Illinois small business loans through Central Chicago Bank are only accepted in person at a bank branch location.
Chicago National Bank
Small business owners also have financing options with Illinois National Bank. The financial institution offers term loans to help cover expenses like payroll, expansion, or purchasing inventory or equipment. SBA loans are also available to eligible businesses.
The terms and loan maximums with Illinois National Bank depend on the creditworthiness of the small business application and the intended use of the loan funds. Applications are accepted at Chicago National Bank branch locations.
In Illinois, small businesses have many opportunities to receive grant funding, which in some cases, is the most desirable type of financing available. Illinois small business grants are paid out to qualifying companies without a need to repay the balance – or interest – over time.
However, small business grants in Chicago and throughout the country have certain work requirements that must be met in order to continue receiving funds. Here are several small business grant opportunities for Illinois business owners.
Chicago Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program
Since its establishment in 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, or SARE, has offered grant funding to small businesses throughout Illinois.
The grant program is available to companies that work on projects intended to improve the knowledge base and effectiveness of professionals in agriculture through educational programs.
These programs must operate with the purpose of enhancing the sustainability of communities and agricultural systems. Applications for the Illinois SARE grants are awarded in $1,500 increments, and applications are accepted on a continual basis. An application form, as well as additional details about Illinois SARE grants, can be found online.
Chicago Foundation for Women Grants
The Chicago Foundation for Women is one of the largest finance providers to women business owners in and around Chicago. The organization offers grant funding ranging from $15,000 to $150,000 to businesses located in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will counties, Illinois.
Recycling Expansion and Modernization (REM) Program
Through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, small business owners in the state may qualify for grant funding through the Recycling Expansion and Modernization Program.
The REM grant program awards matching grant funding to organizations and businesses focused on achieving recycling expansion and waste reduction.
Any business operating in Illinois with this initiative is eligible to apply for grants ranging from $150,000 to $250,000. Applications are accepted year-round and can be submitted to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Although this grant financing opportunity is open to small business owners throughout the country, the FedEx Small Business Grant contest is worth mentioning. Up to $50,000 in total funding is available for qualified small business owners with fewer than 100 employees.
Businesses submit their application online, and open voting takes place throughout the contest. The most compelling business stories are the most likely to receive grant funding.
Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields Program
The Women and Minorities in STEM program offer grant funding to eligible business owners in Illinois, supported by the USDA. The program is intended to support research, teaching, education, and local projects that grow the participation of women and minorities from rural areas in STEM fields.
The total program funding is $400,000, but grant amounts vary depending on the work proposed by each awardee.
Small Business Investors & Financial Options in Chicago
The final option for small business financing in Chicago is investment from outside firms or individuals. Illinois is ripe with investors, from angel and seed investors to established venture capital funds. Here are several small business investors headquartered in Illinois.
As an early-stage seed investment firm, Illinois Ventures focuses on providing financing to small businesses operating in information technologies, physical sciences, and life sciences. Illinois Ventures has funded several notable companies in the form of grants, seed funding, and full venture capital.
Most small businesses connect with the investment firm when they are still in the research stages of development. Small businesses can contact Illinois Ventures online.
Open Prairie Ventures
Small businesses operating in rural areas of the state may have an investment partner in Open Prairie Ventures. This investment firm focuses on providing financing to technology-based, high-growth businesses in agriculture, medical device technology and development, and biotech.
LEO Capital Holdings is a unique investment firm in Chicago that it focuses on high-growth companies developing consumer-oriented technology and applications.
The investment firm has recently funded small businesses in entertainment, wireless healthcare applications, and youth-focused tech. Small businesses wanting to connect with LEO Capital may find more information online.