What is the 2021 Small Business Community Navigator Program?


The Small Business Community Navigators Program is a support program for small businesses in the State of Illinois. The program targets businesses in Illinois that are identified as underserved including minority, rural, veteran, and women-owned businesses.

Underserved businesses may find resources difficult to access, or simply be unaware of services and resources available.

The Small Business Community Navigator Program is specifically targeted at alleviating these issues and reducing the barriers underserved businesses often face when trying to access relief program dollars.

The program will offer grassroots engagement with small businesses to; assist with access to grants, financial planning, marketing outreach, and technical assistance.
Community Navigators will be tasked with informing the Illinois business community of state small business relief grants, as well as federal support available from the Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury.

Community Navigator assistance may include applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Shuttered Venues Operators’ Grants, Restaurant Revitalization Grants, traditional SBA loans, and future opportunities that may come from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

These navigators will provide access to economic support and cutting-edge resources vital to the recovery effort our businesses are now facing in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

What do Community Navigators do?

Community navigators provide the following services:

  • Outreach to hard-to-reach or underserved businesses to raise awareness of opportunities for federal or state support
  • 1-on-1 technical assistance to small businesses to help them understand eligibility and apply for economic support
  • Offer services in multiple languages
  • Share information on small business barriers with DCEO to ensure programming is accessible

To enroll in this program, download and complete this form.