Small businesses benefit from agencies who want to help

All across the Chicagoland area, universities & colleges are offering educational programs for entrepreneurs and those wanting to start a business. Unfortunately, many individuals who need assistance are not aware of where to go for help. Owners (and those with ideas for a business) are posting questions in online discussion threads and attending networking meetings while missing the wealth of information provided by these organizations.

Posting online and networking are good strategies. But it's also important to learn from others - to hear how they overcame obstacles or turned around a financial slump. Many of these institutions, as well as non-profit organizations, have relationships with seasoned former executives who counsel and mentor new business owners. In addition, other individuals present seminars on every aspect of business over the course of the year. There are bootcamps and advanced training sessions on specific topics hosted by many for-profit companies as well.

In no specific order, here's a list of the programs I know about. If you are aware of others not listed, feel free to add them to the comments below.

Universities & Colleges:

1. DePaul's Coleman Entrepreneurship Center - Events are open to members only and their guests.

2. Illinois Institute of Technology's Knapp Entrepreneurship Center - Services are primarily for IIT-related entrepreneurs.

3. University of Illinois - Center for Urban Business

4. City Colleges of Chicago - Non-credit courses

5. Saint Xavier University (co-sponsor)

Small Business Development Centers on Campus:

a. Chicago State University

b. Illinois State University

c. College of DuPage

d. Southern Illinois University

e. Western Illinois University

f. College of Lake County

g. Elgin Community College

h. Harper College

i. Governors State University

* Non-Profits:

1. Hull House Association

2. JVS Chicago

3. ChiVentures

* 4. Chicago's First Black Inventors/Entrepreneurs Organization - Members only

5. Women's Business Development Center

* 6. Lincoln Park Business Development Institute - Start Up! Chicago

* Incubators:

1. Technology Innovation Center

2. Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago

Lastly, don't forget to research the various services available through SCORE, a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All of the above are experts you can trust.

Get advice.

Get informed.

Get your business in order.

* UPDATE: #4 is now known as the Chicago Inventors Organization, #6 is no longer operating. Lastly since 2010, numerous non-profits and incubators have emerged in the Chicagoland area to assist entrepreneurs due to the booming success of start-ups in the area.

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