The Chicago small business scene is at a cross roads.  While many understand the need for small firm expansion, statistics are proving that funding opportunities are hard to come by.  According to Chicago Business, only “16 percent of small-business loans went to women in 2013, and less than 2 percent of black-owned businesses received loans that year.”  In local areas where the city is looking to increase economic development and employment, this is an issue.

Despite the past troubles, however, help is coming to the city.

For Chicago residents, a new partnership backed by JPMorgan Chase is coming to help small businesses access funding.  “Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center on Innovation & Entrepreneurship are teaming up to mentor minority-owned and small businesses that employ a “significant portion” of residents from Chicago’s 11 lowest-income areas, including Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing and Austin. Chase will give each university $200,000 annually for the next three years to fund the effort.”

Currently, 15 organizations with annual revenues of over $1 million have been selected with the goal of growing their business to the next level.  With such low percentages in funding wins, the current program hopes to coach these businesses through the process of winning investment while at the same time, build a network that can expand to other minority and women owned businesses in the area. The program hopes to educate and provide opportunities for the current 15 organizations and more soon after.