Next Street partnered with the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development to launch the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery: Small Business Assistance program to help entrepreneurs across Chicago and Cook County to survive and thrive in the wake of the pandemic.

How We Helped

Next Street partnered with Cook County, the Fund for Equitable Business Growth and local Business Support Organizations to design and launch the Cook County Small Business Assistance program, in response to the onset of COVID-19. This nationally recognized program brings together partners across the small business ecosystem, and includes a robust network of more than 30 Business Support Organizations that provide small businesses in their communities with three important program components:

  • One-on-one business advising to help businesses address their unique needs, use new tools, and navigate resources
  • Webinars with topics like financial wellness and marketing that guide businesses through analyzing their business needs with a COVID-19 recovery lens
  • Grants for businesses that suffered losses due to COVID-19

Next Street supports the ongoing delivery of the Cook County Small Business Assistance program, helping connect small businesses to much needed coaching, advisory services, tailored strategic planning assistance, and technology support to help them successfully operate under quarantine conditions and meet changing demands.

Our Impact

As the program coordinator, Next Street facilitates shared resources for our Business Service Organization partners, including creating shared marketing materials, creating a centralized small business intake and management platform, leading partner communications and learning exchanges, and designing webinars to deliver consistent, quality content to small business participants. In its first year, the Small Business Assistance program touched more than 10,000 small businesses, including helping more than 2,500 businesses access training, one-on-one advice, and small business grants totaling $17.1 million. Unique to The Small Business Assistance Program is its focus on small businesses that are typically and systemically held back – 50%+ of participants were women, and 66%+ were people of color.

"Cook County created the Small Business Assistance Program to offer critical support to our local entrepreneurs when they needed it most. We partnered with Next Street throughout the life of the Small Business Assistance program – from conducting the research to help us understand the state of the ecosystem, to program design and coordination, to providing ongoing support to our network of over 30 business service organizations and the continual evolution and expansion of the program. As a result of this program, Cook County has received national recognition and has assisted thousands of businesses. We are proud of its impact to date and are thrilled to have Next Street as a critical part of our team.”

Irene SherrDeputy Bureau Chief, Economic Development, Cook County

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