Congratulations to our second round of Peoria County grant recipients!
Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis – please reach out to your mentor for details on how to apply.

In order to be eligible to apply for the Peoria County microgrant, business owners must work with at least two approved Business Mentors to complete all four phases of the SmartStart Dashboard. Your Mentors will provide guidance and feedback as you complete your tasks in each Phase—you will be building your grant application as you go! This may entail reviewing or diving deeper into elements of business development that you have already completed, such as Customer Development. We hope you take advantage of the Mentors’ expertise to continue to hone your business plan. You can find an approved Business Mentor in the Customer Development phase of the SmartStart Dashboard. Once you’ve answered the questions, click the yellow “Find Help” button.

The Mentors will have worksheets, tools, videos, and other resources to help you along the way, and will collect or review your documents, which will become part of your grant application (see below). The Mentors will “stamp” that you have completed each Phase, and you will receive a badge. Once you have all four badges, you can submit your grant application.

  • Phase One: Customer Development
  • Customer Segments Worksheet
  • Customer Personas Worksheet
  • Value Proposition Worksheet
  • Phase Two: Nuts and Bolts
  • State of IL/Peoria County Business Registration (as applicable)
  • IRS EIN Documentation
  • Business Licenses Applied For/Obtain (if applicable)
  • Business Insurance Certificate (if applicable)
  • Phase Three: Financials
  • Proof of Business Bank Account
  • IRS Quarterly Estimated Tax Worksheet (if applicable)
  • Pro Forma/Financial Plan
  • Verification of Bookkeeping Process
  • Attendance at Financials and Bookkeeping Workshop
  • Phase Four: Getting Out There
  • Brand Development documents
  • Website information (if applicable)
  • Social Media links (optional)

Start A Business Greater Peoria – 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.

The committee will consider the following in the grant selection process. Each factor will be given equal weight:

  • Likelihood jobs will be created in Peoria County
  • Likelihood for social and/or economic impact
  • Likelihood to succeed
  • Likelihood the grant will make a difference in the success of the business
  • Likelihood of utilizing the grant funds within one year

Applications are selected on a rolling basis.

Other Financial Assistance

Peoria County

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

City of Peoria

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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