Individuals are required to utilize the SmartStart dashboard with their mentors to be eligible to apply for a Peoria County microgrant, as well as meet the requirements below. Mentors will assist you in working through the sections. Once they feel that you have met the requirements for that section, they will give you a digital stamp to show it’s completed. The stamps are designed to benefit you in several ways, including:

  • Highlighting areas that your mentors and advisors can help you improve
  • Connecting you with community resources, such as marketing, accounting, attorneys, and insurance
  • Demonstrating to bankers and investors that your idea has been validated
  • Being eligible for Peoria County’s $5000 microgrant program
Grant Applications will open January 1, 2023.

SmartStart Passport Grant Eligibility Requirements

  1. The business founder must have collected all four digital stamps in the SmartStart Passport.
  2. The business must be located in Peoria County. If a home-based business, the founder must live in Peoria County.
  3. Must be an independently owned and operated for-profit corporation or limited liability corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship authorized to conduct business in the State of Illinois; or a nonprofit;
  4. The business must have earned less than $50,000 in revenue.
  5. The following businesses are not eligible
    • independent contractors or freelance workers that do not operate as a formal business entity;
    • a private club or business that limits membership for reasons other than capacity;
    • a business primarily engaged in speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through normal course of trade;
    • a business that earns more than a quarter of its annual net revenue from lending activities, unless the business is a non-bank or non-bank holding company certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI);
    • a business that derives at least 33% of its gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities;
    • a business engaged in pyramid sales, where a participant’s primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants;
    • a business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted. (Included in these activities is the production, servicing, or distribution of otherwise legal products that are to be used in connection with an illegal activity, such as selling drug paraphernalia or operating a motel that knowingly permits illegal prostitution);
    • a business principally engaged in teaching, instructing, counseling, or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether in a religious or secular setting;
    • a government-owned business entity (except for businesses owned or controlled by a Native American tribe);
    • a business primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities;
    • a business that manufactures or sells at wholesale, tobacco products or liquor, or a business that manufactures or sells firearms at wholesale or retail;
    • a night club or strip club;
    • an employment agency;
    • a pawn shop;
    • a storage facility or trailer-storage yard or junk yard;
    • such other businesses as determined to be ineligible by Peoria County; or
    • a business in which a majority owner has a financial or familial connection to a Peoria County board member or Peoria County administration.
  6. Complete a follow-up report on how the funds were spent.

Financial Assistance

Peoria County offers financial assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners seeking to start or expand a business, respectively, through its Government Assistance Program. The Government Assistance Program, or GAP, is a revolving loan program that helps “fill the GAP” between traditional private financing and a project’s cost by offering low interest loans. Details and applications are available at

Business Loans

Residents of Peoria may find the City’s Revolving Loan Fund, which offers two types of business loans, may fit their needs. Find requirements and application information at

Contact Us

We are here to help you grow your business. For more information about our resources and growth oppourtunities, please visit our contact page to connect with our team.

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