The Center for Urban Business (CUB), a 501c(3) non-profit organization and an Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Illinois at Chicago that receives government funding from the Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, City of Chicago’s Department Planning and Development, and the UIC College of Business Administration. We assist Chicagoland area small to medium sized companies to grow and become successful enterprises.
FREE BUSINESS COUNSELING SERVICES
Our core services are marketing, managing, and financing. We do this by providing free counseling to business owners on the following:
1) FINANCING SOURCES - Our center identifies funding sources (debt or equity financing) such as business lines of credit, SBA loans, bank loans, grant programs, and investor financing. We prepare the loan package to expand/grow the business. We also assist startups with obtaining financing to get the business started.
2) LOAN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE - In respect to business loans, we function as a free “broker” in assisting the business owner to find the appropriate lender or financing instrument for their business growth needs. Since we work with so many lenders and different kinds of businesses, we know which banks are more likely to fund which business loans.
3) MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE - We assist existing businesses with managing their growth and connecting them to the business resources they need to succeed.
4) RESOURCES & REFERRALS - There are lots of resources for high-growth fast performing businesses so if the company has high growth potential within the next three to five years, we can connect the business owner with programs such as the cash-matching grant for up to $10,000 offered by the Illinois Entrepreneurship Centers. We connect business owners with the resources they need to succeed. If we do not know the answer to your questions, we know who to refer you to for additional assistance.
5) MARKETING ASSISTANCE - We help companies identify who are their target markets, create a marketing plan, and develop strategies to grow the business. We do not write the marketing plan for the entrepreneur, but we critique it and offer suggestions on ways to improve the plan.
6) BUSINESS PLAN ASSISTANCE - We do not write the business plan for the entrepreneur, but we can critique it, make suggestions on improving the plan, and direct clients to additional resources. Basically, the client has to gather and analyze the data and develop recommendations (e.g. find industry information, conduct market research, perform location analysis, itemize the startup costs, etc.) for the business plan. In addition, we provide the entrepreneur with biz plan templates, offer advice on which biz plan software to purchase, and/or connect the individual with a Business Plan Writer/Preparer.
QUALITY BUSINESS WORKSHOPS
CUB provides affordable, quality, and content-rich workshops that train small to mid sized business owners on how to operate their company more effectively. Workshop fees are usually $35 to $45 for a two-hour session, but may be higher depending on speaker fees and other costs associated with conducting the workshop topic. Past workshops topics include:
1) How to Start a Business
2) How to Write an Effective Business Plan
3) How to Buy an Existing Business Workshop
4) How to Obtain Free Publicity for Your Business
5) Business Financing & Business Loan Day
6) Understanding Your Financial Statements
7) Marketing Your Biz on a Shoestring Budget
8) QuickBooks Accounting Software Basics & Advanced Level
9) How to Write an Effective Business Plan
10) Using Direct Mail to Increase Sales & Profits
11) COSI - Improve Your Business Operations to Increase Profits
12) Employment Law - Human Resources
13) Creative Ways to Finance Your Business Growth
ENTREPRENEURIAL STUDENT TEAMS PROGRAM (ESTP)
One of the services our center offers to established businesses is the ECS Student Team Program where teams of 2 to 4 business students, from UIC's College of Business Administration, work closely with companies to help them solve real business issues. The projects are determined by the clients' needs, and typically run 10 to 12 weeks out of a 16-week semester. The professors oversee all of the student teams' work and CUB’s staff is available for advice and technical assistance through the semester.