The board of Commissioners voted to create a $745,000 Small Business Community Navigator Program during the July board meeting. These funds will be used to expand existing programs to further support small businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Cook County launched the Cook Country COVID-19 Recovery: Small Business Assistance Program to ensure that small businesses were prepared to rebound from the impacts of the pandemic and emerge stronger than before. Over 2,700 small businesses received grants and/or technical assistance through this program.
The Small Business Community Navigator Program will allow Cook County to increase business advising services, training, and resources. It is anticipated that an additional 2,500 businesses will benefit from these services.
The Small Business Community Navigator Program funds will also support the creation of a virtual call center. This will offer businesses an opportunity to connect to immediate assistance via a staffed call line from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. It will also assist businesses in accessing the right capital or service provider.
Finally, these funds will allow Cook County to continue its partnership with Next Street as administrators of the business assistance funds. The County funding for the Community Navigator Program will enable continued service and expanded community partnerships.