Small Business Assistance

Small Business Assistance

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NOTE: As of September 2021, these services are no longer available. We are currently working on an updated website that will reflect the support and services available under a new funding award.

The Small Business Assistance program provides free creative and marketing services for qualified entrepreneurs, businesses, and business start-ups in the state of Illinois. Applications are evaluated on a competitive basis. A team of student specialists provide free services for applications that are accepted.

Types of Services include graphic design (logo, brochure, etc.), marketing communication, social media strategy, basic website design, market survey design, business plan review, pitch presentation review, packaging design, trade show graphics, etc.

Eligibility: Eligible entrepreneurs, start-ups, or businesses must be:

  • associated with and referred by an incubator in the Illinois University Incubator Network or an institution of higher education in the following Illinois counties: Champaign, Coles, Cook, DeKalb, Jackson, Kankakee, Macon, Peoria, Sangamon, Winnebago.

— OR —

  • located south of I-80 in the state of Illinois and referred by an Illinois incubator, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), University of Illinois Extension Office, or higher education entrepreneurial program.

Guidelines and Expectations:

  • A business plan is required with application. A simple version is acceptable for most project requests (i.e., lean startup version or business model canvas). If you have not yet developed a business plan, these resources, guides, and templates may provide help with preparing a simple business plan.
  • Application must include contact information for referring Illinois incubator or organization. Your referral contact will also be updated on the status of your application and project.
  • Projects should be short-term in nature. Estimated completion of accepted projects is 30 days (for summer semester projects) or 6 to 8 weeks (for fall/spring semester projects) – after the project kickoff meeting.
  • Submit only one application with one deliverable request at a time.
  • Subsequent applications may be submitted after successful completion of a project.
  • Applicants should expect to provide additional information or material upon request – as part of the review process and before projects begin.
  • Clients seeking website design assistance must have a logo and brand identity. If a logo has not yet been developed, you will be redirected to first request logo design assistance.
  • Submission of an application does not guarantee services.

QUESTIONS: Contact Cheri Soliday at or 217-244-6097.

The Small Business Assistance program is led by EnterpriseWorks at the University of Illinois Research Park. Funding support for these services is provided by grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

More programs offering free assistance for entrepreneurs: