Arthur Williams is looking for a few good startups. At a business networking seminar, sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), the state’s investment portfolio manager introduced the Advantage Illinois program to the audience of small business owners, detailing the process and requirements that they needed to follow in order to be considered to receive funding.
Governor Quinn launched the Advantage Illinois program back in October 2011, but only a part of its allocation has been spent. It goal is to support young, innovative Illinois companies which show high-growth potential, traction, and already have investors. It is backed by a $78 million grant from the federal government, released in three separate amounts, as the state meets the small business and startup guidelines of the program.
“This venture fund is allowing us to help small and start-up businesses increase innovation and competition, expand, and create good-paying jobs,” said Governor Quinn. “We must continue to do everything we can to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow in order to boost the economy, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.”
So far, Illinois has distributed most of the first $26 million from the fund to help businesses around the state. With most of the first batch of funding allocated, Williams says that the state is set to receive the second $26 million batch of funds from Washington. Williams is now looking for more businesses and startups, that meet the requirements, to come forward and apply for funding.
The program has already funded several startups including SweetPerk, now called livelocal.ly, a mobile marketing tool for the shopping districts, economic development offices, and retail tourist destinations of a local community; Buzz Referrals, an online platform that creates custom referral programs based on social media; and AuraSense Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company which produces a nucleic acid which, they say, helps to fight heart disease, cancer, and bacterial infections.
The Advantage Illinois program funds programs through institutional lending, including the Capital Access Program (CAP); the Participation Loan Program (PLP); the Collateral Support Program (CSP); and the Investment Illinois Venture Fund (IIVF). Small businesses and startups can apply online HERE. A startup would have to submit an executive summary, financial statements, and demonstrate that it has a 30 percent investment commitment from a third-party investor. ❒