$15 Million Funding Opportunity to Support Growth of Minority-Owned Businesses
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Minority Economic Empowerment is posting two Notification of Funding Opportunities for a total of $15 million to provide minority-owned businesses with resources to help create jobs, build capacity, increase revenues, and expand regionally. The announcement marks the first time the program has been funded.
$10 million in funding is open to minority-owned businesses located in underserved populations. Eligible applicants include minority- owned businesses using the federal definition of minority owned firms (at least 51% of the firm is directly and unconditionally owned by one or more members of a minority group), start-ups or established businesses requiring public infrastructure improvements. $5 million in funding is available for incubators who serve or would like to serve minority-owned businesses.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will offer informational workshops across the state for businesses and incubators seeking additional details about the grants. Business owners and incubators interested in applying can do so here or call the FIRST STOP Business Information Center helpline at 1.800.252.2923. The deadline to submit applications is 5pm CST on June 30, 2019.
Regulatory News
State Agency Rules Open For Comment
The following rules have been proposed by State of Illinois agencies and are open for public comment.   To see a comprehensive list of rules which could impact small businesses, visit www.ildceo.net/regalert.   You can learn about rules and submit comments regarding their impact  by clicking on " submit comments" .   

The Secretary of State proposed amendments which could impact small businesses seeking contracts with the Secretary of State.  To learn more about these potential changes or to submit comments, click hereThis rule is open for public comment until 5/13/19.  

US Department of Labor Announces Proposed Rule on Overtime Pay
On March 28, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (Department) announced a proposed rule to amend 29 CFR part 778 to clarify and update regular rate requirements under section 7(e) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The FLSA generally requires overtime pay of at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek. Regular rate requirements define what forms of payment employers include and exclude in the "time and one-half" calculation when determining workers' overtime rates.

Under current rules, employers are discouraged from offering more perks to their employees as it may be unclear whether those perks must be included in the calculation of an employees' regular rate of pay. The proposed rule focuses primarily on clarifying whether certain kinds of perks, benefits, or other miscellaneous items must be included in the regular rate. Because these regulations have not been updated in decades, the proposal would better define the regular rate for today's workplace practices.

The Department proposes clarifications to the regulations to confirm that employers may exclude the following from an employee's regular rate of pay:
  • the cost of providing wellness programs, onsite specialist treatment, gym access and fitness classes, and employee discounts on retail goods and services;
  • payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave;
  • reimbursed expenses, even if not incurred "solely" for the employer's benefit;
  • reimbursed travel expenses that do not exceed the maximum travel reimbursement permitted under the Federal Travel Regulation System regulations and that satisfy other regulatory requirements;
  • discretionary bonuses;
  • Benefit plans, including accident, unemployment, and legal services; and
  • Tuition programs, such as reimbursement programs or repayment of educational debt.
The proposed rule also includes additional clarification about other forms of compensation, including payment for meal periods, "call back" pay, and others.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the March 29, Federal Register, at which time interested parties may submit comments on the proposal at www.regulations.gov in the rulemaking docket RIN 1235-AA24 by May 28, 2019. Only comments received during the comment period will be considered part of the rulemaking record.

Additional Information:
National Small Business Week 2019
2019 Natl SB Week
Please Join us in Celebrating National Small Business Week 2019
For more than 50 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they're working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America's global competitiveness.

The Illinois SBDC Network is hosting various events across the state.  Click here to see the list of events being held around you.  

In person and online, we're celebrating Illinois' Small Businesses.  Follow us on social media to help us celebrate National Small Business Week!  # SmallBizChat # SBDC #SmallBusinessWeek #IllinoisSBDC
Industrial Hemp Applications Now Available
Governor Pritzker and IDOA Announce Availability of Industrial Hemp Applications 
The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is now accepting applications for both growers and processors of industrial hemp. The applications can be found on the IDOA website homepage or by clicking on the Plants tab and going to Industrial Hemp.
Both growers and processers can apply as a business entity or an individual. Applications will be taken online, and applicants can pay the application fee with a credit card. The application fee is $100. License and registration fees are below:
Grower license
Processor registration
There has been interest from growers and processors all over the State of Illinois. The Department is ready to review and process the applications as they are received.
"As governor, I will ensure Illinois remains at the forefront of what it means to be a 21st century agricultural economy," said Gov. JB Pritzker. "Industrial hemp is a potentially billion-dollar industry that Illinois will now take part in. From farming and processing to sales and exports, this will have a massive impact on our state's economy."
"Since the passage of the Industrial Hemp Act last year, no single issue has generated more interest at the IL Department of Ag (IDOA) from Illinois farmers, individuals and business owners than the growing and processing of industrial hemp," said John Sullivan, Director IDOA. "Our staff has worked diligently to answer questions, complete the rule making process and provide a user-friendly application process-all in time to plant hemp this growing season. We are excited to watch this industry grow and provide job creation opportunities."

News from the Small Business Administration

How to Buy a Business 
Thinking about buying a business? Take SBA's FREE self-paced training for resources to help you decide if buying a business is right for you.
Launch the course.

National Small Business Week Virtual Conference
For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association will host the National Small Business Week Virtual Conference on May 7-8, 2019. The virtual conference will include educational webinars on starting and growing a business, mentoring sessions and business resources. The virtual conference is free of charge, but registration is required.  Register today.   


Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) News
How to Improve Your Win Rate
Last year, Deltek released its 9th annual study titled "Government Contracting Industry Study".  Part of the study showed the average win rates for small, medium, and large businesses as 37.9%, 47.3%, and 41.8% respectively.  While some contractors would love to have a win rate of nearly 40%, others are doing much better than average. Here are a few suggestions on how you can improve your win rates.
  1. Measure your win rate and have an internal discussion with your team about what can be done to improve it.  If you don't know where you are, it will be challenging to make any improvement.
  2. Get feedback when you can.  Understand how to leverage the formal debriefing process when the government is required to provide one.  In cases when a formal debriefing is not required, you should still consider asking for informal feedback.  Check out A Pocket Guide To Federal Contract Debriefings in the recommended readings section below for further guidance and sample debriefing request letters.
  3. Conduct an internal debriefing with your team.  If you didn't win, get the facts about why you lost; then discuss the key issues and fix them.  Each time you go through this process to identify, discuss, and solve the problems related to your bids and proposals, you should see your win rate steadily increase.  
  4. If you lack the requisite experience and past performance to be competitive, learn how savvy businesses team with other companies to overcome their weaknesses and win in the federal marketplace.  
  5. Get lean.  Price is an evaluation factor in all solicitations.  Work on finding ways to lower your overhead and expenses.  By doing this on a routine basis, you can offer the government better pricing in your bids and proposals.  
  6. Build stronger relationships.  People like doing business with people they know, like, and trust.  If the agency you seek to do business with has never heard of your firm, you may find yourself at a disadvantage to contractors who have put in the extra effort to get to know their target customers and their needs.
  7. Take the sniper approach rather than the shotgun approach.  Get laser focused on going after the right opportunities and ensure your team is doing everything they can to win.
  8. Compete where there is less competition.  This includes responding to sources sought notices to get those opportunities set aside, and also positioning yourself within IDIQ contracts when applicable.  
  9. Ask your PTAC.  Your local PTAC representative may provide additional resources, training, and recommendations on how you can improve your win ratio.
Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Centers are a portal for small businesses looking to enter the world of government contracting. The centers provide one-on-one counseling, technical information, marketing assistance and training to existing businesses interested in selling their goods and services to local, state, and/or federal government agencies.

Services include:
  • Help targeting appropriate government agencies
  • Automated bid lead matching services
  • Access to government specifications and standards
  • Guidance with quality assurance issues
  • Assistance with certifications
  • Identification of Sub-contracting opportunities
  • Bar Code and Packaging Information
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • UID (Unique Identification)
  • Contract Administration Information
  • System for Award Management (SAM) Assistance
  • Review of Bid Packages
Click here to find a PTAC in your area.
To find out more about PTAC's, call 1.800.252.2923 or Submit a Question.
For a list of PTAC's outside of Illinois, click here.

The State of Illinois has special programs for small and diverse business enterprises to help you grow your revenues, enhance your credentials and build your business capacity. Click here to learn how to Sell 2 Illinois.
To locate a PTAC near you, click here.  

News from the IRS 
Latest Information on the 199A Qualified Business Income Deduction
Owners of businesses operated through sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, trusts and estates may be eligible to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income, plus 20 percent of qualified real estate investment trust dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income. Those eligible can claim it for the first time on their 2018 federal income tax returns filed in 2019.

For more information, see the April IRS Fact Sheet on qualified business income deductions.

Common Questions About Recordkeeping for Small Businesses
Here are answers to some common business-related recordkeeping questions.
Small business owners should choose a recordkeeping system that clearly shows income and expenses.
The general rule is three years depending on the action, expense and event recorded in the document.
A good recordkeeping system includes a summary of all business transactions. 
Business owners should keep all records of employment taxes for at least four years.
Illinois Small Business Environmental Assistance Program 
Illinois EPA Accepting Applications for Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program Volkswagon Funding
Illinois EPA Acting Director John J. Kim announced the Agency is accepting applications for up to $650,000 in Volkswagen Settlement funding for all-electric school bus pilot projects in Madison and/or St. Clair Counties. The program was designed to improve air quality in the state primarily by removing old diesel engines from service. Illinois EPA announced the first round of funding in December, which included an all-electric school bus pilot project in Cook County. This funding opportunity is part of the State's allocation of $108 million received from the multi-billion-dollar Volkswagen Settlement after it was discovered Volkswagen installed emissions cheating software in certain diesel vehicles.

The projects to be funded in this second funding round will replace existing diesel school buses with new all-electric school buses in Priority Area 2, which includes Madison and St. Clair Counties. The number of awards will depend on the number of applications received and the levels of funding requested. Based on the first funding round awards, the Agency expects to make approximately 2-3 awards in the second round.

Potential applicants may view the Notice of Funding Opportunity and all application materials on the Agency's  Driving a Cleaner Illinois webpage and also at Illinois' GATA webpage. Applicants must pre-qualify prior to application submission. Additional information is available on the GATA webpage.

Applications are due July 16, 2019 by 5:00 p.m. CT. Questions regarding this funding opportunity may be directed to epa.vwgrants@illinois.gov or 217-524-0546.

The Illinois EPA's Volkswagen Settlement webpage contains additional information on the VW Settlement and the Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program:  https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/air-quality/driving-a-cleaner-illinois/Pages/default.aspx .

EPA Strengthens Regulation of Asbestos to Close Loophole and Protect Consumers
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a broad new rule that strengthens the agency's ability to rigorously review an expansive list of asbestos products that are no longer on the market before they could be sold again in the United States. This important step closes a 30-year-old loophole that allowed old asbestos uses and products to come back to the market without any reviews or restrictions from EPA. Today's action gives EPA the authority to prohibit the use of certain products or put in place restrictions to protect public health. This action does not alter the prohibitions made in a 1989 partial ban.

The action means products like asbestos vinyl floor tiles, insulation, and other building materials, as well as some clothing and manufacturing products containing asbestos, cannot be imported, produced, or sold in the United States before EPA reviews them and puts in place any necessary restrictions, including prohibiting such use.  A full list of products covered by today's rule is available on the agency's website. Previously banned asbestos items remain banned.

The action complements EPA's ongoing risk evaluation of a handful of very limited, still ongoing uses in the U.S., which EPA is taking under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Safety Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Addressing limited, ongoing uses of asbestos is one of EPA's top priorities.

The agency is reviewing ongoing uses of asbestos as one of the first 10 chemicals selected for risk evaluation under amended TSCA. The evaluation of the risks associated with ongoing uses of asbestos is required under TSCA section 6. If EPA finds unreasonable risk, the agency will take prompt action to address those risks, which could include restricting or banning other asbestos uses in products.

The risk evaluation and subsequent steps will ensure that asbestos uses in products not covered by the 1989 partial ban or today's final rule are evaluated. EPA is committed to a transparent and open process to finalize the asbestos risk evaluation using sound science on the timetable established by Congress.

Today's final action takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The final rule and supporting documents will be published in the Federal Register and available under docket identification number (ID) EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0159 at: https://www.regulations.gov. Learn more about asbestos: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos.
The Illinois Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) is a federally mandated program to assist small businesses with their environmental requirements. SBEAP is a free, confidential, and non-regulatory resource for small business owners to help them understand and comply with state and federal air pollution regulations.
We offer a range of services to assist small businesses, including training seminars and workshops, current permit forms and instructions, links to various Illinois state agency environmental regulations, a quarterly newsletter with regular updates and information on pending and recently amended rulemakings, fact sheets, brochures and guides related to a wide range of small businesses, and links to a directory of environmental consultants. 
The SBEAP program is located within the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. For more information please click here.
Need Assistance? Visit www.ildceo.net/enviro, or call our helpline at (800) 252-3998, or email DCEO.SBEAP@Illinois.gov.
Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events
Small Business Expo 

Small Business Expo - June 20, 2019 - Chicago
Meet and network with thousands of like-minded business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals in your area!  

Why attend Small Business Expo?
*  Network with thousands of businesses
*  Get leads and new customers
*  Build your business
*  Attend FREE business-critical workshops and seminars
*  Shop for new products and services to help your business
*  Learn from cutting-edge presentations
*  Participate in FREE speed networking  sessions

Since 2008, Small Business Expo has dedicated itself to putting on fun and educational events that help Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs thrive. The free one-day event allows business owners to connect, network with vendors in various industries and learn from the best in business about how to solve their most pressing business issues. Small business owners are encouraged to attend to learn from industry experts and shop from exhibitors that have products & services that help a Small Business grow.   Click here to learn more about the Small Business Expo to be held in Chicago June 20th, 2019.

Small Business Cyber Training - Cybersecurity Workshop- July 16, 2019 Chicago
Northrop Grumman, In collaboration with the USC Center for Economic Development, if offering free cybersecurity training to small businesses through an Air Force Small Business Office Mentor Protege Program.  This workshop is open to all small businesses.  Advance registration is required.

The workshop will be held July 16, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Springhill Suites (Marriott) Chicago O'hare, 8101 West Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631.  

For more information and registration details, click here.  

SBA's Illinois District Office Events Calendar
Visit the small business events calendar on SBA's Illinois District Office  homepage to locate an event or training that suits your small business needs.  
Spotlight on Success
Spotlight on Success-Workout with Ludgina
The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Metro East at SIUE and East St. Louis proudly announces the launch of Workout with Ludgina, LLC. Workout with Ludgina provides High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) online treadmill workouts at an affordable price. Her classes are designed for runners, joggers, walkers, or anyone who is interested in including exercise in their daily life. These classes can help build endurance, strength, and speed in a fun, upbeat way that makes you enjoy working out. Each class has an interactive and engaging format that consists of endurance work, sprints, tempos, and hills in order to aid with strength, endurance, speed, form, weight loss and self-confidence.
Owner of Workout with Ludgina, Ludgina Dieujuste, came to the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in October 2018 with a business idea and her passion for running. She knew she could count on her local SBDC to help guide and support her throughout the process of building her business.
SBDC Business Specialist Marti Guntren has assisted Dieujuste in reformatting her business plan and reviewing it for possible lenders, as well as aiding in the process of registering her business, and providing additional referrals for lenders and lawyers.
"Marti made things clearer for me," Dieujuste noted. "I can create my business with the help of an entrepreneurial mentor, like Marti. She has helped me realize how attainable this business can be."
Dieujuste was overweight growing up. One day she went for a run and has never stopped. Her passion for running and connecting with others has grown with each step she's taken. She is also a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Certified Running Coach.
"Ludgina is a force of nature!" Guntren exclaimed. "She knows what she wants and has the skills and abilities to make it happen. It is a pleasure to help her make her dream a reality. She has developed her team and has moved forward, even when things did not go as planned. In today's business environment, the ability to pivot is crucial to succeeding."
To celebrate the launch of Workout with Ludgina, you can enjoy the first video at a rental fee of just $1.00 for 15 days. The first video was available Monday, April 1.  Workout with Ludgina can be contacted through email at  workoutwithludgina@gmail.com. For more information, visit WorkoutWithLudgina.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.
The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures like V8 Speed & Resto Shop and V8TV Productions, Inc. as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and   SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses. By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region's economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.
To learn about the SBDC, contact the   IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.
May  2019
Helpful Links
Start a Business - Illinois Small Business Development Center (Illinois SBDC)
Illinois First Stop Business Information Center
Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit Program
Illinois Secretary of State Business Services
How Can We Help You?

Illinois Small Business Development Centers are located throughout the state and provide information, confidential business guidance, training and other resources and services for start-up and existing small businesses.

Whether your company employs two people or 102, you need a strong network behind you to succeed. And that's where the Illinois Small Business Development Center comes in. SBDC partners with well-respected business development organizations and educational institutions to assist you in maximizing your potential to grow and attract investors. SBDC connects you to the experts, tools and opportunities that translate into endless possibilities!
The Illinois SBDC program is located within the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. For more information please click here.

Need Assistance?

Call our helpline at 800.252.2923 or email  FirstStop@Illinois.gov






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