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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced Chicago Startup Boot Camp, a new program aimed at supporting the thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses located in Chicago’s more than 70 incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces. Following a city-wide listening tour of entrepreneurs, the city developed this day-long boot camp program to address the needs of our city's small business owners. Today’s announcement served as the kickoff to the program with the first Chicago Startup Boot Camp held at BLUE1647 Englewood, which opened last month in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating thousands of jobs and spurring innovation and economic development throughout Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The city provides a number of resources small businesses and entrepreneurs, however given the demands on business owners, it can be difficult to access all of them. Our Chicago Startup Boot Camp program gives local entrepreneurs and businesses the resources they are asking for in a way that works for them.”
The Chicago Startup Boot Camp will be managed by the City of Chicago Small Business Center (SBC) as one of a series of programs designed to help the city’s thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses grow. The Chicago Startup Boot Camp is designed to bring “on the road” resources that entrepreneurs have expressed needing most, including:
Assistance accessing capital: The Chicago Microlending Institute (CMI) has provided loan preparation assistance and loans to help support small businesses across the City. Currently, $5 million in funding is available for Chicago small businesses through the program.
Legal, financial and technology support: Workshop topics include access to capital, improving credit, establishing a legal entity, and getting businesses online.
One-on-one business coaching and counseling on topics ranging from pitch development to licensing requirements.
In addition, Google is launching its “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” in Chicago, which aims to get all small businesses online. Google will also be partnering with the City to provide training to local Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDCs) and other SBC partners to help them to get their local entrepreneurs and small businesses online. As part of this effort, Google has made a commitment of $40,000 to Blue1647 to boost the incubator’s efforts to get all of its businesses online.
“At Google, we are committed to getting every small business online,” said Robert Biederman, Senior Manager of Public Relations at Google. “We’re excited to be partnering with Mayor Emanuel and the Small Business Center to offer our tools and free web sites through Chicago Startup Boot Camp.”
Many Chicago entrepreneurs and small businesses are not yet at the licensing stage and have limited exposure to the support resources the Small Business Center provides. The Chicago Startup Boot Camp will extend the reach of the city’s current programs to this audience.
This first Boot Camp includes representatives from Accion, which delivered a workshop on accessing available capital, including from non-traditional channels like crowdfunding and microloans; the Law Project, which presented on establishing a legal entity for entrepreneurs and businesses that are ready to expand beyond a home-based business; and Google, which delivered interactive workshops on Getting your Business Online and Being Found Online.
Incubators and other programs interested in hosting a Chicago Startup Boot Camp should reach out to the SBC at www.cityofchicago.org/sbc.
“We’re really excited to be hosting the first Chicago Startup Bootcamp,” said George Wright of Citi and President of BLUE1647 Englewood. “The agenda was designed with input from our members and addressed some of their biggest questions. We are grateful to all of the partners that supported the boot Camp.” Citi also helped fund the BLUE1647 Englewood incubator and sponsored today’s Chicago Startup Boot Camp.