Business Block Party
Funding Tools to Help You Grow
Funding Tools to Help You Grow

Information you can use: this is part of a series recapping educational sessions held during the 2013 Made In Elk Grove Manufacturing Expo.

The credit crunch during the Great Recession was tough on businesses of all kind, from start-ups to established companies. Arthur Williams, Jr. has seen the effect firsthand across Illinois, and the stories he's heard only bolster his resolve to provide a shot in the arm to the state's small business community — including manufacturers.

“I want every small business in our state to know about tools that can help them grow," he says.

As Investment Portfolio Manager with the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Williams oversees a unique public/private initiative called Advantage Illinois. The $78 million program helps new and existing companies grow by expanding access to investment capital.

Q: Tell us about Advantage Illinois.

A: Gov. Quinn launched Advantage Illinois in October 2011, and it's been a great success. So far, we've already generated more than $400 million in private dollars to grow Illinois small businesses and lift our state's economy.

Advantage Illinois is made possible through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) — a federal grant aimed at accelerating small business investment and growth. We have a mandate from the U.S. Department of Treasury to generate a minimum of at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 of federal funding — a total of $800 million. We do that through innovative collaboration with the state's lending community, as well as venture capitalists.

Q: How does it work?

A: Entrepreneurs and small businesses in Illinois can apply to tap the tools that Advantage Illinois offers. Two programs encourage institutional lending to small businesses and one other leverages private venture capital in start-ups and high-growth sectors:

  1. The Capital Access Program is designed to encourage financial institutions to make loans to small and new businesses that do not qualify under conventional lending policies.
  2. The Participation Loan Program supports businesses with projects that create or retain jobs and/or modernize their businesses to improve competitiveness. One component is devoted to Minority/Women/Disabled/Veteran-Owned businesses. The state purchases and subordinates part of the loan to help mitigate lender risk.
  3. The Invest Illinois Venture Fund Program supports young, innovative companies that show high-growth potential, can demonstrate their place in the market, and already have other investors.

Q: How does a company obtain support through Advantage Illinois?

A: Some businesses may receive Advantage Illinois funding as part of a business assistance package. Otherwise, to access the lending programs, it's best to start by visiting our web site. Review the fact sheets there, as well as the list of banks we partner with. Apply at one of those banking institutions (here's the list of banks), then contact us to see how Advantage Illinois could potentially provide support.

As for the Venture Fund Program, that initiative had been such a success that we are not taking applications right now.

Q: Besides Advantage Illinois, what are other programs and incentives that companies should know about?

A: If you're a manufacturer hiring as a result of creating new product lines, you should know that the state offers tax credit programs exactly for companies like you: manufacturers creating new jobs. There are also resources to support distributors and exporters. Information about the full range of offerings can be found at:

For more information, contact:

Arthur Williams, Jr.
Investment Portfolio Manager
Illinois Department of Commerce and
Economic Opportunity

100 W. Randolph, Suite 3-400
Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 312-814-5713
Fax: 312-814-5247

About Arthur Williams, Jr.
Arthur Williams, Jr. is the Investment Portfolio Manager at the State of Illinois, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and assists managing the Advantage Illinois Program – a $78MM federally funded program from the U.S Department of Treasury (part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010). Advantage Illinois consists of multiple capital programs to encourage institutional lending to small businesses including the Invest Illinois Venture Fund to leverage private venture capital investment in start-ups and high-growth sectors in the State of Illinois.

About Made in Elk Grove Manufacturing Expo
Made In Elk Grove Manufacturing Expo is the only event of its kind. Exclusive to the manufacturing community, the Expo provides attending OEMs and manufacturers a unique opportunity to Connect, Collaborate, and Cultivate relationships with local manufacturers. Held in Elk Grove Village, IL, on Oct. 29, 2013, the inaugural Expo featured nearly 100 exhibitors, breakout educational sessions like the one summarized above, plus networking opportunities and more. Industries represented include precision machining, plastics, electronics, and industrial services. To learn more about the 2014 Expo, Subscribe for Updates Here