While Chicago ranks #3 in accommodating small businesses (boasting 230,000+ in its midst), unfortunately, the environment in which they should be thriving is not being nearly as accommodating as necessary. Given that the city’s principal banks seem to be more focused on big businesses, owners of SME’s and entrepreneurs are finding it increasingly difficult to get start-up loans from reputable sources. As such, many “alternative” lenders are filling the niche and taking advantage of this situation in a less-than-legitimate manner.
It is often minority groups who pay the price. Given that those struggling to obtain loans are usually minorities, women and veterans, vulnerability is running high. As such Chicago has to come up with a new, more trustworthy solution. One that is currently being promoted is SimpleGrowth – “the first lending platform built to strengthen the ability of Chicagoland small business owners to gain the capital they need to launch or grow their businesses.”
Should we look further afield to other parts of the state of Illinois, we find that SMEs are truly thriving. the figures speak for themselves. Currently approximately 1.2 million SMEs are in existence (lending employment to over 2.4 million individuals – comprising 46% of the private workforce). These companies are providing incredibly “innovative solutions, meeting the needs of consumers, and pursuing their own dreams.”
Other resources available include the Illinois District of the U.S. Small Business Administration which has a branch in both Springfield and Chicago. So there is good news in the Illinois area for small businesses; there just has to be more of a focus on giving a push start to struggling new firms in the Chicago region.