The Small Business Community Navigators Program is a support program for small businesses in the State of Illinois. The program targets businesses in Illinois who are identified as underserved including minority, rural, veteran and women owned businesses. The Small Business Community Navigator Program is specifically targeted at alleviating these issues and reducing the barriers underserved businesses often face when trying to access relief program dollars.

The program brings together community organizations, community navigators, from across the State of Illinois who will perform intensive outreach to ensure that small and hard-to-reach businesses are aware of economic relief funds available. Community Navigators will be tasked with informing the Illinois business community of state small business relief grants, as well as federal support available from the Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury. These navigators will provide access to economic support and cutting-edge resources vital to the recovery effort our businesses are now facing in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do Community Navigators do?

Community navigators provide the following services:

  • Outreach to hard-to-reach or underserved businesses to raise awareness of opportunities for federal or state support
  • 1-on-1 technical assistance to small businesses to help them understand eligibility and apply for economic support
  • Offer services in multiple languages
  • Share information on small business barriers with DCEO to ensure programming is accessible

Looking for assistance with your small business?

Schedule an appointment to discuss available options. Click the button below to sign up as a client, at no-cost to you.

sign up as client

Still have questions? Send us an email at

Back to Business Program (B2B)

The deadline to apply has passed and applications are now closed.

The Back to Business (B2B) grant program sets forth $250 million for businesses that have experienced losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic to support them in their recovery. As a result, eligible business owners will be able to restore operational losses incurred during the pandemic and offset expenses needed to reopen their businesses.

B2B is a key component of Governor JB Pritzker’s $1.5 billion economic package that is designed to maximize the impact of the American Rescue Plan Act funds provided to the State of Illinois.

Funding Available

$250 million is available to small businesses across the State of Illinois to those who have experience losses in 2020 due to COVID-19, including the following set-asides:
  • $100 million – Businesses located in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs), see DIA map here
  • $30 million – Arts and Entertainment businesses that didn’t receive Shuttered Venue Operators grants
  • $25 million – Restaurants and taverns that didn’t receive the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
  • $25 million – Hotels
  • $25 million – Businesses that didn’t receive a BIG grant due to exhaustion of funds

Eligibility Requirements

  • Business must be registered in the State of Illinois
  • Must have been operating during or before December 2019
  • Businesses with revenues of $20 million or less in 2019
    • $35 million or less for hotels
  • Priority will be given to the following categories:
    • Hard-hit industries (see eligibility guidelines for a full list of priority industries and their definitions)
    • Hard-hit areas – DIAs comprising of 176 zip codes
    • Businesses who have yet to qualify for state funding or federal assistance (including the Paycheck Protection Program – PPP, Restaurant Revitalization Fund – RRF, Business Interruption Grant – BIG, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant – SVOG, and more)
    • Businesses that had less than $5 million in revenue in 2019

Learn more about eligibility guidelines here. Eligibility guidelines also available in Spanish.

How to Apply

The deadline to apply has passed and applications are now closed.

To become a client and receive application assistance from the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Joseph Center, click here.

Documentation needed:

  • Business owner ID (ITIN business owners eligible)
  • Business’ 2019 AND 2020 Federal tax returns
  • Two (2) business bank statements – one from the period of April through December 2020 and the most recent statement

Learn about additional information and required documentation here.

Find a list of Frequently Asked Questions here.

For further questions about the program, you can reach the B2B call center at (872) 304 – 2786 or by email at