• New Statewide Network to Deploy Computer Devices for Low-Income Residents Across the Illinois Announ

    New Statewide Network to Deploy Computer Devices for Low-Income Residents Across the Illinois Announced
    Governor JB Pritzker announced a first-of-its-kind initiative in Illinois to expand digital access for low-income households throughout the state. Through a unique collaboration with PC’s for People, a national nonprofit providing refurbished devices, Cook County, and numerous other community partners, the State of Illinois will stand up a statewide network to deploy refurbished computers, digital literacy programming and workforce training.
    The new Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network aims to put computers and other mobile devices into the hands of Illinois residents – assisting more of the estimated 1.1 million Illinois households without a computer with access to high speed internet that is essential for e-learning, remote work, tele-health and more.
    To further expand digital access across the state, the Governor issued call to action to public, private and philanthropic sectors to donate used equipment to build on the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network that is set to deploy at least 20,000 refurbished computers annually for in-need Illinoisans next year.
    For more information on the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network and how to recycle technology or to apply for an upgraded device, please visit...
    Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network
    Governor Pritzker and DCEO Announce $93 Million in Emergency Assistance Provided to Over
    155,000 Families Since June - $180 Million Available
    CHICAGO—Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced $93 million in emergency household relief has been provided to more than 155,000 families across the state this year as part of the Help for Illinois Families program. Launched by the administration in June, the program was created assist the growing number of families experiencing economic hardship as a result of COVID-19 by directing additional funding and an expanded eligibility threshold to ensure more families statewide could benefit from assistance on utilities and other basic household bills. 
    While many have already benefitted, the administration is urging families to claim the more than $180 million which remains available to help offset costs on heating, utilities, water, rent, food and other forms of basic assistance.  The Help for Illinois Families directs an increase in funding to state-run LIHEAP and CSBG programs, leveraging $90 million in CARES Act funding, for a total of $275 million available to assist families in need this year. LIHEAP provides assistance on heating and energy, and the CSBG program serves residents with household costs including water/sewer, food and other essential amenities, varying in availability by community.  
    To learn more about eligibility and to apply to receive assistance, residents can visit...  
    Help for Illinois Families
    Rebuild Distressed Communities Program
    Round 2 Opens December 21, 2020
    Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) is a $25 million economic recovery program designed to support economically distressed Illinois businesses and communities that have sustained property damage due to civil unrest on or after May 25th, 2020. The RDC grant program will reimburse the cost of repairs for structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.
    The program will prioritize small businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, businesses that have a high community impact – such as grocery stores – and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment. The program also prioritizes the use of BEP-certified contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, to do the repair work.
    DCEO has partnered with two community organizations, Local Initiative Services Corporation (LISC) and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Inc. (CNI), to operate the program on behalf of DCEO. 
    WHEN TO APPLY: Applicants can begin submitting applications for Round 2 on December 21st until January 21st. Applications will be accepted until funding is exhausted.
    WHERE TO APPLY: You can submit an application for Round 2, beginning on December 21st, the link will be LIVE click HEREA pdf version of the application is available here for review.
    To submit an application, click HERE.
    Para información sobre la aplicación en español haga clic aquí*
    MORE INFORMATION: Application and program details are available HERE
    Applicants are encouraged to review the application, FAQ, and checklist prior to submitting an application. Información disponible en español.
    WEBINARS: LISC, CNI, and DCEO will be hosting webinars to provide potential applicants with an overview of the RDC grant opportunity, the grant application, and required documentation.
    Reconstrucción de comunidades afectadas:
                   22 de diciembre a las 10:00 a.m. Regístrese Aquí
                   12 de enero a las 2:00 p.m. Regístrese Aquí
    Learn more about the Rebuild Distressed Communities Program (RDC) below.
    Rebuild Distressed Communities Program
    State of Illinois Announces New Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council
    The Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) today announced the new Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council, developed to increase employment and promotion opportunities for Native Americans in Illinois. The council held its first meeting this week and will examine the prevalence and impact of Native Americans employed by state government and the barriers faced by Native Americans who seek employment or promotional opportunities in state government.
    “Ensuring equitable access and opportunities for all of our residents and all of our businesses is a top priority for DCEO and our Office of Minority Economic Empowerment. Through the creation of the first-ever Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council in Illinois, I look forward to working alongside other departments and policy makers in putting Native American perspectives and interests at the forefront, and increasing participation throughout the state," said Diana Alfaro, DCEO Latino Business Development Manager.
    In August 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Native American Employment Plan Act, establishing the 10-member Native American Employment Plan Advisory Council and proclaiming November as Native American Heritage Month in Illinois.
    Join DCEO's Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), with our partners, Illinois Small Business Development Center - PTAC, Native American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois and National Center American Indian PTAC as they present a webinar discussing resources available to Native American owned businesses.
    The IL PTAC and The National Center American Indian PTAC - centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.
    For more information about this event, contact Diana Alfaro at: diana.alfaro@illinois.gov
    Small Business Spotlight:
    Two SBDCs Unite to Launch Online Holiday Marketplace
    CHICAGO – With the holiday season in full swing, two Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are making a difference with the launch of a unique e-commerce platform that is helping small businesses on the south side to market their products in a unique way.
    This new platform a, “Southside Virtual Holiday Market,” is currently hosting dozens of Black-owned businesses from the Southside of Chicago, from Bronzeville and Englewood to as far south as the South Suburbs, and giving business owners another shot at holiday revenues, as foot traffic has declined for many retailers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses featured on the guide range from food to fashion, home goods, and services that all reflect the creativity of business owners in Chicago’s Englewood and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
    The SBDC team behind this idea is Lauren Amos, Director of the SBDC at Build Bronzeville, and Tamora Hughes, Director of the SBDC at Greater Englewood. These SBDC teams worked together to leverage federal CARES Act dollars to build the new e-commerce platform, and to help featured business owners become e-Commerce ready, which in some cases included developing full-service websites that would allow them to process sales and deliveries.
    The new holiday marketplace has been so successful that Lauren and Tamora plan to convert it into a year-round page to market more small businesses from Englewood and Bronzeville. Since its launch December 1st, the site has received more than 1,500 unique visitors clicking through to the individual business pages.
    Illinois is home to one of the largest networks of SBDCs, with 42 centers based in communities across the state. Earlier this year, the State of Illinois announced an expansion of the program, adding 7 new SBDC locations to help serve more small business owners with professional counseling, resources, and support. Find an Illinois SBDC Center in your area. 
    It’s not too late to visit the marketplace for your holiday shopping needs! Next week, the holiday marketplace will host virtual activations to help drive customers to the vendor gift shops featured. These activations include a Virtual Holiday 5K with Last Lap Cornerstore, a Holiday Plant Party with  Soilful Pots and Grow Sumthin and a Virtual Holiday Cooking Class with Chef Lucy's of A.O. Bistro. 
    Please visit The Southside Virtual Holiday Market to learn more about the Chicago businesses featured.
    DCEO In the News
    PC's for People Story
    It’s not too late: How to apply for CURE program money
    Girls in the Garage Receives BIG
    ‘2021 looks good’ for Illinois filming industry after productions delayed for months because of COVID
    COVID-19: Help for businesses, workers and residents:
    Office of Minority Economic Empowerment
    Reconstrucción de comunidades afectadas - El programa de “Reconstrucción de comunidades afectadas” apoya a los negocios de Illinois que han sufrido daños a la propiedad como resultado de los disturbios civiles durante las protestas y demostraciones después del 25 de mayo de 2020. Este programa se está administrando por LISC (corporación de apoyo a iniciativas locales por sus siglas en inglés) y la CNI (iniciativa de vecindarios de Chicago) en nombre del Departamento de Oportunidades Comerciales y Económicas de Illinois (DCEO).
    Office of Trade and Investment (OTI)
    The Office of Trade & Investment (OTI) continues to offer Illinois businesses virtual services to support export promotion and international sales growth. OTI’s team of Chicago-based international trade specialists and our six foreign trade offices in: Belgium, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, and Mexico are ready to support businesses across the state looking to expand in international markets.
    Export 101 - The product or service you offer has gained great success here domestically. Now what? Maybe it’s time to take the next step and take your business global.
    • Tuesday, January 12, at 10:00 a.m. Register HERE
    How to Export: Freight Forwarder 101 - Learn what role and responsibilities the freight forwarder has in the export process. Topics include what does a freight forwarder do and what can a freight forwarder do for your company. 
    • Monday, January 25, at 12:00 p.m. Register HERE
    Export Assistance Programs for Illinois Businesses - Did you know that there are several export assistance programs that can help you grow your export business? From market research, trade lead generation, to funding your export, this webinar will introduce the State and Federal trade assistance programs available, including the Illinois State Trade Export Promotion grant program. 
    • Thursday, January 28, at 10:00 a.m. Register HERE
    Illinois workNet Virtual Job Fair Opportunities
    Virtual Job Fair
    January 5, 2021
    9:30 a.m.
    Virtual Job Fair
    January 25, 2021
    10:00 a.m.
    Protecting you and your kin
    We all want to be together with friends and family during the holidays. But, if we want to protect the ones we love, we have to avoid risky situations this year — and that includes the gatherings we hold dear. With some safety tweaks, you’ll see that many holiday traditions can still be enjoyed with just as much joy.
    Check out the 12 ways to holiday safely here...
    Go #AllinIllinois
    This Holiday Season.
    Small Business Spotlight
    The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County operates the Governor John Wood Mansion and the History Museum on the Square in Quincy. The loss of revenue from ticket sales, donations and decline in membership placed a burden on the organization and made future exhibit preparation and programming impossible. Now instead of having to cancel further exhibits, the BIG award will be used to help fund the Underground Railroad and Father Tolton exhibit planned for the spring!  The funds will also help expand the Wi-Fi connection in the Museum to help with our interactive displays and screens.
    The State of Illinois could use your support with much-needed personal protective equipment as well as other supplies for our first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    To Donate: ppe.donations@Illinois.gov
    To Manufacture PPE in Illinois: ima@ima-net.org
    To Sell PPE: covid.procurement@illinois.gov
    To Volunteer: serve.illinois.gov or email dph.serveillinois@illinois.gov