Small Business Source

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Cook County, Ill., IL

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About the Program

Category: Community and Economic Development (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook County launched what is now known as The Cook County Small Business Source, which strives to support, scale, and elevate small businesses by providing no-cost business advising, a readily accessible library of resources, events, training, and access to capital opportunities. Since the program’s inception, the program has reached over 46,000 small businesses. In 2022, The Source served over 5,493 companies directly via business advising services via its partnership with 10 Business Support Organizations (BSO) and over 30 Referral Partners. The vast majority of the Source’s client base are businesses owned by People of Color, over half are owned by women, and almost all have less than ten employees. The Source engages ten of the region’s leading BSOs to offer business advising sessions, and a centralized data platform for aggregation, analysis, and reporting. Business owners report a high degree of satisfaction with The Source’s services as evidenced in the post-advising surveys completed by businesses. In 2022, the Source offered 113 events and webinars facilitated by BSOs and community partners to assist small businesses in accessing resources and further developing their business. Recently, The Source launched a robust web-based library of over 100 individual resources from over 40 different sources.