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Small Business Loan Program for Minority and Women Entrepreneurs

Northern Illinois Community Initiatives (NICI) is a foundation established by Nicor Gas in 2021. Our newest program, Northern Illinois Community Ventures (NICV) is a small business loan program for minority and women entrepreneurs who want to start, sustain, or expand their business. NICV builds upon the foundation’s mission to build a more vibrant and equitable region by investing in bold economic development initiatives that help communities thrive. NICI will invest $1 million in this program over the next four years.


We have partnered with Allies for Community Business ( who prioritizes Black, Hispanic/Latinx, women, and low-income entrepreneurs throughout the Chicagoland area and beyond. Their loan terms are much more flexible than traditional financial institutions. It is important for us to collaborate with diverse regional and community partners who share our vision. NICI has a vested interest in the success of small businesses to create jobs and wealth in their communities.


NICI is committed to supporting nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs who are doing transformative work by improving economic development in their communities. We use a place-based approach, and our priority communities include South Suburban Cook County, Joliet, and Rockford.

For more information on this program, please visit Please indicate NICI as your referral source.


For more information about NICI, visit

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