Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Businesses
- Where does the Advantage Illinois funding come from?
- What is the purpose of these programs?
- Can my business apply directly to DCEO for a loan?
- How do I know which program is right for me?
- What is the likelihood of an application being approved?
- What if my bank is not participating?
- I’m a lender. How do I sign up for Advantage Illinois?
- What is a Socially and Economically Disadvantaged (SEDI)-owned business?
- Where can I call for more information?
Where does the Advantage Illinois funding come from?
On Sept. 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, the most significant piece of small business legislation in over a decade. The new law provides critical resources to help small businesses and entrepreneurs continue to drive economic recovery and create jobs, including lending support, tax cuts, and other opportunities. Part of this law is the “State Small Business Credit Initiative” (SSBCI) which provides each state with an allocation of funds for state capital access programs and other credit support programs designed to increase access to credit for small businesses. Advantage Illinois is our state's program to leverage SSBCI funds.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which reauthorized and expanded the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to provide $10 billion to support small businesses and empower them to access the capital needed to invest in job-creating opportunities as the country emerges from the pandemic. SSBCI provides funds to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to promote American entrepreneurship, support small business ownership, and democratize access to capital across the country, including underserved communities. The State of Illinois will receive up to $354.6 million to administer four programs as part of the SSBCI, including Advantage Illinois.
What is the purpose of these programs?
Advantage Illinois supports small businesses by enhancing access to capital.
Advantage Illinois programs make eligibility as flexible as possible, maximizing the impact on Illinois economy and especially encouraging loans to Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals (SEDI) and Very Small Businesses (VSB), or businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
The Participation Loan Program (PLP) helps Illinois businesses get term loan financing at lower rates by purchasing a portion of the loan and lowering risk for lenders.
The Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) will provide a guarantee of partial repayment to the lender if a loan goes into default.
Can my business apply directly to DCEO for a loan?
No. DCEO partners on the Advantage Illinois loan programs with participating lenders. Businesses must apply to Advantage Illinois through their participating lender. After working with your lender, your lender will submit your Advantage Illinois application to DCEO.
How do I know which program is right for me?
A consultation with a participating financial institution will include an assessment of your current or potential business strategy, expected performance and a review of the way your business will operate. The lender should be able to assist you in finding the right program and maximize its returns.
If you have a great idea but don't have a business plan, you can receive assistance at your local Illinois Small Business Development Center.
What is the likelihood of an application being approved?
Advantage Illinois programs have been designed to accelerate credit distribution by helping lenders manage the risks inherent in lending to small and start-up companies. The goal is to ensure timely and an increased number of private investments.
To expedite processing, applicants should make every effort to ensure that their applications are complete and include all supporting documentation, as applicable.
What if my bank is not participating?
If your local banker or lending institution isn't familiar with Advantage Illinois, you can point them to our web site. If they aren’t enrolled as a participating lender, and you have already developed a business plan with help from your local Illinois Small Business Development Center and are ready to approach the institution for a loan, you can email us at CEO.SSBCI@illinois.gov so that we can reach out to your institution regarding enrollment. Banks simply need to complete a Master Agreement or other similar document for each component they choose to participate in.
I’m a lender. How do I sign up for Advantage Illinois?
Please email CEO.SSBCI@illinois.gov. We will send you the Master Agreement to review, and we can schedule a meeting with you to review the programs and answer your questions.
Where can I call for more information?
You may email CEO.SSBCI@illinois.gov.