Although we hear a lot about the Fortune 500, small businesses, those with 100 or fewer employees, actually make up 93 percent of all businesses in Chicago.

But starting a small business or growing the one you have isn’t easy these days.

Figuring out where you’re going to get the money to launch or grow your small business is one of the toughest problems entrepreneurs have to solve. But at the City of Chicago’s small business expo, you could find yourself awash in capital opportunities.

It’s hard enough coming up with a good idea for a business. Developing a plan and putting that plan into action is overwhelming for many budding entrepreneurs.

The City of Chicago wants to help. At last year’s small business expo, nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs met with over 80 exhibitors, including banks, various chamber of commerces, the city’s procurement office and the federal small business administration. Evan Blanco started his call conferencing business a year ago and attended last year’s expo.

Evans says, “A wealth of information about starting a new business, financial assistance, business contacts, putting together a business plan, and also some of the legal aspects of starting your own businesses and incorporating.” .

Evan credits his successful start to the networking he did at last year’s expo. “I’ve been on an uphill climb and trend since attending.” .

Meeting people like Hans Bonner helped answer a myriad of questions.

Hans Bonner of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce explains, “We offer assistance in finance procurement, marketing, accounting, insurance, bonding, anything a small business can use.”

City Treasurer Judy Rice says, “We want to bring the banks to the businesses and have a day where they can connect and they can walk around to various banks in Chicago.”

In addition to this year’s small business expo, the city’s Department of Planning and Development is launching the small business assistance center to give year-round advice, links and networking opportunity for small businesses. With more than 60,000 business licenses issued in the city each year, a lot of jobs are at stake.

Judy Rice reports, “That’s a lot of businesses and that’s a lot of jobs. If you drive the streets, you can see the vibrancy of small businesses in Chicago.” This year’s small business expo will take place on Friday, August 6th at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Center, starting at 8:00 a.m. It’s free for all attendees, whether or not you live in the City of Chicago. To register, call the city at 312/744-3976.

More information:

Evan Blanco
1920 N. Thoreau Drive
Suite 116
Schaumburg, IL 60173

City of Chicago Small Business Expo
750 South Halsted Street
Friday, August 6, 2004
8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Hans Bonner, Senior Vice President
Latin American Chamber of Commerce
3512 West Fullerton Avenue

July 30, 2004.