Rockford area’s resource agencies collaborating to help local entrepreneurs find the most direct route to a profitable business!
News & Events
Rockford Community Investment Fund: Quarterly Webinar
February 9 | 12PM – 1PM
This session of the Quarterly Webinar Series will focus on issues of interest to borrowers. A panel of Business Leaders from Associated Bank will discuss Strategies for Managing Cash Flow, Business and Personal Credit, Real Estate Trends & Insights, and Borrowing and Working with Lenders.
The Zoom meeting information is included below for those who would like to attend.
Meeting ID: 878 2178 1511
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,87821781511# US (Chicago)
Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund
Application Deadline | February 14, 2023
The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund is a small grant program that provides direct assistance to veterans who are in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The Fellowship Fund does not give money directly to the veteran, but rather to third-party vendors for items the veteran has identified will make a crucial difference in the launch of their farm business. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Today’s Challenge Tomorrow’s Reward Conference 2023
February 15, 2023 – February 16, 2023 | Springfield, IL
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) conference focuses on providing educational and skill building workshops, best practices, and networking opportunities to statewide DBE firms and contractors wanting to do business with IDOT. The overall goal is to help advance the firm’s skill set and knowledge to increase their competitiveness and opportunities for work on federally funded highway contracts.
The Boss Networks – Invest In Progress Grant Program
Grant Deadline | February 24, 2023
The BOSS Network is partnering with Sage, the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility and efficiency to manage finances, operations and people, for the inaugural grant of The BOSS Impact Fund. With a $1.5 million Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant Program over the next three years, Sage and BOSS are knocking down barriers for Black women entrepreneurs.
USDA Grants for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production
Application Deadline | March 27, 2023
Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) competitive grants initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas and suburbs. Projects may target areas of food access; education; business and start-up costs for new farmers; and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.
Learn more about USDA grants here
USBA 7(a) Loans
The 7(a) Loan Program, SBA’s most common loan program, includes financial help for small businesses with special requirements. This is the best option when real estate is part of a business purchase, but it can also be used for:
-Short and long-term working capital
-Refinance current business debt
-Purchase furniture, fixtures, and supplies
Learn more about 7(a) loans here
SBA HUBZone Program
If your small business is in a historically underutilized business zone, you may be eligible to apply for the SBA HUBZone Program, which allows businesses to compete for certain government contracts. See a preview of the upcoming HUBZone map, which is changing on July 1, 2023.
Nicor Gas: Energy Efficiency Program
Custom incentives are available for projects that are not covered by existing rebates. Incentive amounts are based on the measured and verified therm savings from the energy efficiency project. Eligible projects typically involve improvements to existing systems or processes which result in a permanent reduction in natural gas usage in your facility.
Veteran Government Contracting
Attention Veterans! SBA is now accepting applications for the Veteran Small Business Certification program. Through this new program, certified veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses can compete for set-aside government contracts. The program will be SBA’s primary certification vehicle for all veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, important classifications that enable those businesses to qualify for sole-source and set-aside federal contracting awards.
New Cybersecurity Resources Have Been Posted
North Star has developed resources for small businesses that cover a variety of topics and can help your small business navigate the sometimes overly complicated subject matter of cyber and data protection. In addition to our own resources, below you will find resources available from partner organizations that have developed their own materials.
Start Apr 02, 2023, 9:00 AM – Apr 23, 2023, 12:00 PM
The Park Church, 801 Concord Ave, Rockford, IL
The Think Big School of Business promotes minority entrepreneurship, start-ups and businesses development.
The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a bold, nation-leading law that will put Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future, protect public health from pollution, provide a just transition for communities historically dependent on dirty fossil fuels, enact tough utility accountability measures, and will create well paid new jobs.
Climate Bank Finance Loan Participation Program
This new program will be overseen by DCEO and administered by the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA), which will partner with local lenders to issue the loans. Climate Bank funds will be available to small businesses in the clean energy sector.
RLDC VetLoan Advantage Program Funding Options
To show its appreciation for the sacrifices our honorably discharged veterans have made in defending our country and the principles we hold dear and share, Rockford Local Development Corporation will pay the Bank Subordination Fee charged to any eligible veteran-owned business receiving an SBA 504 loan from the Rockford Local Development Corporation. Bank Subordination Fees vary based on project size and structure but can range from $500 to as much as $50,000 depending upon the loan size of the participating bank.
Cyber and Data Protection Awareness Training
Cybersecurity Guidance For Small Businesses
Small businesses are under cyber and data-breach attacks. This has grown even more true in the last few months given the current climate. Cyber attacks happen every day, and for a small business they can be very costly and cripple business operations. To help provide small businesses with the education and resources to protect themselves, America’s SBDC has developed a national cybersecurity program called North Star.
Small Business Digital Alliance Publishes Library of Free Digital Tools from National Members, Fortune 500 Companies Available to Small Businesses
In addition to the new digital tool library geared toward empowering entrepreneurs to scale their business, SBDA announces additional details of its first National Webinar.
Get help starting your business. BUSINESS FIRST brings together all stakeholders to explain regulations for starting your business in Rockford.
At a BUSINESS FIRST session, regulatory partners come together from city and county departments including Building & Construction, Zoning & Permitting, The Health Department, Rock River Water Reclamation District, and The Small Business Development Center to walk entrepreneurs through projects and provide them with information to get their business up and running while answering all of their questions. BUSINESS FIRST operates as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs seeking to start their business in Rockford, IL.
At a BUSINESS FIRST session, regulatory partners come together from city and county departments including Building & Construction, Zoning & Permitting, The Health Department, Four Rivers Sanitation Authority, and The Small Business Development Center to walk entrepreneurs through projects and provide them with information to get their business up and running while answering all of your questions. BUSINESS FIRST operates as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs seeking to start their business in Rockford, IL.
Register For Business First Here
Our Rockford SBDC Consultants will be assisting entrepreneurs in the following locations:
- At the Parks Chamber, inside Loves Park City Hall every Wednesday from 9 am to 2:30 pm. (Inside Loves Park City Hall). One on One sessions in Spanish will be provided).
- At the NIU-Rockford Campus every Thursday from 9:30 am to 2 pm. 8500 E. State St. Suite 165 Rockford IL 61108.
- At the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce (NEW) in Belvidere every Tuesday from 10 am to 4 pm (business advice will be provided in English & Spanish as well).
- At the Rockford Chamber of Commerce every Wednesday from 12pm to 2 pm 308 W. State St. Suite 350 Rockford IL 61101.
Benefits of contacting your local SBDC include:
- No cost, one-on-one, confidential business advising
- Virtual business advising
- Training programs & workshops designed for small businesses
- Professional referral network
- Accessing to capital
- Technology development
Lifelong business partners
Read About the New Multi-County Entrepreneur Resource “Compass”
“Launch815 is helping us to navigate the process of transforming our great idea into a viable, marketable product!”
– Fran Pierce, Pierce Products –
Launch 815 Partners: