Sen. Bill Cunningham

CHICAGO — Through the passage of the Senate Democrat-backed 2021 Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is launching $21 million in funding to develop 13 community-based contractor incubator hubs across the state.

“With a goal of moving Illinois toward a carbon-free future, the CEJA Contractor Incubator Hubs are critical to supporting clean energy contractors across Illinois,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “This $21 million program will provide Illinois’ small businesses with the resources and tools necessary to prepare for a clean energy future.”

The program establishes a network of 13 community-based hubs across the state offering incubator services designed to assist clean energy contractors and small businesses – especially those from underserved areas – grow their businesses. The organizations that will run CEJA Contractor Incubator Hubs will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process.

The Hubs will be located in the 13 geographic areas designated by statute: Alton, Aurora, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago, Danville, Decatur, East St. Louis, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Waukegan. DCEO anticipates identifying at least one grantee to administer the program in each of the 13 locations. 

 The Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program is one of several contractor, workforce, and community support programs established by the landmark CEJA legislation intended to move Illinois to a 100% carbon-free future. Under CEJA, DCEO will administer $180 million per year in workforce and community support programs designed to build Illinois' clean energy economy and prepare the state's workforce and communities for the jobs of the future.

A technical assistance webinar will be held Friday, Oct. 20 from 9-10 a.m. Entities located in the priority areas can apply for funding until Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. Visit DCEO’s website to learn more and apply.