In Illinois, women are offered numerous opportunities when they are starting a business. In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that women executives working full-time in management, business or financial occupations earned more money than all other women in any other major national occupational category. To promote women into higher paying executive positions and improve the historic wage differential between the sexes, public and private organizations in Illinois provide business grants and incentives to encourage women starting businesses.

State Grants

State-level business grants for women can be scarce in Illinois, but the state offers other means of financial support for female entrepreneurs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Opportunity (DECO) offers a number of programs designed to help minorities and women succeed in business. The Minority Participation Loan Program offers business loans up to 50 percent of the total amount of a project, with a maximum of $50,000.

The Illinois Capital Access Program (CAP) is a financial support program that encourages lenders to approve loans to those who may not qualify otherwise. Illinois provides the lender with an insurance reserve to cover the cost of the loan in case of default.

Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Business Finance Division 500 East Monroe Springfield, IL 62701 217-782-3891

Local Grants

Many counties and cities in Illinois offer financial incentives to incoming businesses. Women-owned business who apply are often given special consideration. Grant funds may come in the form of special tax breaks or real estate tax easements, some counties even offer subsidized business loan programs.

An example of a city in Illinois offering extensive business grants is the city of Elgin. Women should inquire about their ability to customize development agreements to provide assistance for programs that may not fall within their other guidelines.

Other programs subsidized through county and city grants include business loan programs with local lenders, reduced taxes, special bond issues for designated enterprise zones, and 50-percent matching building funds for facade and landscaping renovations.

City of Elgin Economic Development Department 150 Dexter Court Elgin, IL 60120-5570 847-931-5593 847-931-6749

Private Grants

The Chicago Foundation for Women is considered one of the largest women's benefit funds in the world. The Chicago Foundation for Women was founded on the belief that all women and girls should have the opportunity to prosper and succeed in life.

The fund offers a number of grant opportunities and provides women with free workshops on how to apply for grants and put together business proposals. Illinois women starting a non-profit business are recommended to begin their business plan research at the Chicago Foundation for Women.

Chicago Foundation for Women 1 E. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1620 Chicago, Il 60601 312-577-2801