Hard working entrepreneurs around the Southland are connecting with SDA’s Business Growth Services team to find new opportunities

WaddieAnn Walton’s business model was thrown into chaos when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and she could no longer host parties and events for families and individuals around the Southland. 

Her Lansing based events company, WaddieAnn Events, was able to rebound when normal life resumed in recent years, but she is still feeling the effects of rising costs and inflation, particularly increased prices for event spaces.

That’s why Walton was one of more than 12 local business owners who connected with the Southland Development Authority’s Business Growth Services team. The SDA Business Growth Services team assisted her with her application to Cook County’s 2023 Source Grant

For Walton, who is looking to reestablish her operation in a new event space and gain access to additional funds to add staff and expand her event hosting capabilities, the opportunity was invaluable. 

“(The help) means a lot,” Walton explained. “Typically, what you’re speaking about, people charge for that. My situation, I don’t have the money to pay someone to provide these services.”

Walton initially submitted the grant application on her own, but after learning about the opportunity for grant application assistance, she went through the process again, step-by-step, with Southland Development Authority Relationship Manager Christopher Cooks.

The 2023 Source Grant program is run through the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and technical assistance is provided through the Cook County Small Business Source. The Source applicants may receive one of two grant award levels. Businesses with 2019 gross revenue between $20,000 and $50,000 are eligible for $10,000 grants and businesses with a 2019 gross revenue of over $50,000 are eligible for $20,000 grants.

With guidance from Chris Cooks and SDA’s Tailored Exper Consulting program, Walton has been able to successfully resume her work – planning and executing memorable events for clients around the Southland, but she needed help with crafting a business plan, applying for grant opportunities, and continuing to find new ways to improve her business model.

“I had no prior experience submitting a grant application, even though I uploaded every document that they asked for, and Chris was just reassuring me by going over what I had put in 

and what I had uploaded to the system,” Walton said. “The ease that it gave me was like, ‘Girl you did it right!’ However, I still needed reassurance from someone like Chris that’s an expert. It did volumes for me.”

About Southland Development Authority 

The Southland Development Authority is a nonprofit business organization launched in 2019 by business, civic, and political leaders from around the Southland who recognize the potential of the region’s people, businesses, infrastructure, and real estate. The Authority brings the resources and capacity necessary to achieve transformative and inclusive economic growth for the region. It focuses on investment in industry, workforce, housing, and communities.

We work steadfastly to connect Southland business owners, investors, and individuals with key resources to operate and thrive in the region, from equipping mid-size and small businesses in our Business Growth services Program with customized advice and consulting services, to helping local residents access the tools needed to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. With a deep institutional knowledge of the Southland’s people, markets, and history and our multifaceted, experienced team, the Southland Development Authority is a powerful partner for any individual, business, or investor.

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