News Room

Champaign County Small Business Microloan Fund Launched to Support Local Businesses


Media Contact:
Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director
Champaign County Economic Development Corporation

Champaign County Small Business Microloan Fund Launched to Support Local Businesses
Support from Champaign County, Champaign County EDC, Justine PETERSEN, Busey Bank, and PNC Bank to Help Boost Access to Capital

CHAMPAIGN, IL, March 13, 2023 – Together with Justine PETERSEN and Champaign County, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) is pleased to announce the establishment of the COVID-19 Recovery: Champaign County Small Business Microloan Fund. The loan fund aims to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses in Champaign County gain access to affordable financial services.

Champaign County committed $250,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish the microloan fund. Justine PETERSEN worked locally with Busey Bank and PNC Bank to leverage the dollars provided by the county. A total of $2,000,000 is available in the fund, which will continue to revolve in Champaign County.

“Champaign County is fortunate to have dedicated ARPA funding that can assist small businesses in Champaign County in response to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” affirmed Steve Summers, Champaign County Executive. “We look forward to seeing the positive impacts of the Small Business Microloan Fund to help boost business operations of local entrepreneurs and the economy.”

The loan fund aims to assist approximately 100 new and existing businesses and entrepreneurs in the county, focusing on those who do not qualify for traditional lending. Eligible businesses located in Champaign County can access small business loans up to $50,000.

“As part of our strategic plan, we’ve been working to develop more opportunities for area small businesses to access capital,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “It has been a priority for our organization to partner with local and regional financial institutions and governmental agencies to increase these opportunities and to collaboratively address barriers minority businesses experience in accessing the capital needed to start and grow their businesses. We’re grateful to Champaign County, Busey Bank, and PNC Bank for committing funds to make this microloan program a reality. We look forward to working with Justine PETERSEN and our regional economic development partners to ensure the fund is successful.”

In September 2022, Justine PETERSEN established an official presence in the CCEDC office. Since then, the organization has already assisted 20 businesses in accessing more than $350,000 in capital.

“Establishing this loan fund is a testament to the synergy alive and well in the Champaign County small business ecosystem,” said Sheri Flanigan-Vazquez, Chief Operating Officer of Justine PETERSEN. “Justine PETERSEN is both excited and proud to assume an active role in providing local small businesses with access to safe and affordable capital.”

“Small businesses drive progress in thriving communities, so we’re proud to be a partner in this exciting investment initiative to support entrepreneurs and business owners,” said Mark Wisniewski, Executive Vice President – Market President with Busey Bank. “Founded in Champaign County 155 years ago, we understand the unique challenges facing local small business owners. This fund creates vital opportunities for those who may not otherwise have access to essential financing—fulfilling their dreams, helping their business, and growing our community.”

Since 2014, PNC has helped amplify the work by Justine PETERSEN, its affiliate Great Rivers Community Capital, and local organizations serving underserved neighborhoods in the region.

“PNC’s standing as one of the country’s leading financial institutions enables us to deliver the capabilities of a national bank at the local level. Today, we see the power of public and private institutions coming together to create pathways for hard-working entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive,” said Brian Ray, PNC regional president of central Illinois. “Access to capital is critical to the stability of our neighborhoods across the region, particularly in underserved areas. Thank you to Justine PETERSEN and their city and county partners who work hard to fuel economic empowerment and business development so that we can move our communities forward financially.”

Individuals and businesses interested in learning more about the COVID-19 Recovery: Champaign County Small Business Microloan Fund are encouraged to contact Tristan Brown, Justine PETERSEN’s Illinois Operations Manager, based full-time at the CCEDC office in Champaign, at or 217-494-0884. Additionally, Justine PETERSEN will host open office hours on March 15 from 10-11 AM and March 30 from 2-3 PM at the CCEDC office. Interested parties are welcome to stop by during those designated timeframes to learn more, ask questions, and schedule appointments.

Justine PETERSEN is housed within the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation office at 1817 S. Neil Street, Suite 100, Champaign. Office hours are 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday, and by appointment.

About Champaign County Economic Development Corporation:

The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) is a public-private partnership dedicated to fostering a cooperative, county-wide approach to economic development and works to improve the economic well-being of all Champaign County through efforts that entail job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements, small business development, and promotion of quality of life. CCEDC brings together community partners to support economic development by aligning interests through productive relationships, open dialogue, and advocacy efforts. CCEDC hosts the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Champaign County EDC, which provides one-on-one confidential business advice, training, and small business support programs. Learn more at

 About Justine PETERSEN:

Justine PETERSEN is a nationally recognized financial asset-building non-profit organization with offices in Illinois and Missouri. As a leading community development financial institution (“CDFI”), HUD-certified housing counseling organization, and US Small Business Administration (“SBA”) microlender, Justine PETERSEN offers financial products and services that build assets and change lives. Learn more at