Interested in starting a business?

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Bethel New Life and The PrivateBank will soon begin their third round of entrepreneurship training designed to help entrepreneurs on Chicago’s West Side operate their businesses successfully.

The free 14-week program will help entrepreneurs in the early start-up stages of developing a business and established owners with businesses less than 5 years old.

The main focus is on completing a business plan, which includes the feasibility of the business, the owner’s management and marketing strategies, and a financial analysis. The program is part of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bethel New Life.

Primary consideration will be given to West Side residents who have plans to locate their business office within Austin, Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and South Lawndale.

Thirty entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in the competitive program.

The application process will be run through this Friday, Feb. 14. There will be an orientation session tonight Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 5 to 6 p.m. at 1140 N. Lamon Ave., with a “Starting a Business in Illinois” workshop to follow from 6 to 8 p.m.

The orientation session and workshop are not required to apply but will provide an opportunity for applicants to meet staff and have any questions answered directly. Classes are scheduled to start Tuesday, March 11 and will meet every Tuesday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. through June 10.

“Access to resources, capital and know-how is often what is needed to convert those would be entrepreneurs to actual business owners. We are pleased to help West Side residents achieve their dreams,” said Bethel New Life President and CEO Lori Vallelunga.

The PrivateBank will operate and manage a microloan fund pool for the program graduates. Loans will range from $10,000 for start-ups to a maximum of $25,000 for qualifying existing business, although in some cases a loan may exceed this amount.

“The PrivateBank is proud to continue its support for this program and to provide important financing options to successful graduates,” said PrivateBank President and CEO Larry D. Richman.

“Small businesses play such an important role in helping build strong, vibrant neighborhoods and The PrivateBank is committed to helping these entrepreneurs succeed in reaching their goals.”

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