BACP Covid-19 Small Business Support Program Uplifts Small Businesses and Commercial Corridors Impacted by The Covid-19 Pandemic

November 1, 2021

Community business organizations will deliver highly specialized business programs and services to business owners and entrepreneurs

Elisa Sledzinska    312.744.1973

CHICAGO – Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) launched the COVID-19 Small Business Support (CSBS) Program. The $2.7 million grant program has awarded funding to 41 nonprofit organizations to provide business owners and entrepreneurs with targeted assistance, expert training and resources to help address common challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in partnership with the City of Chicago, these organizations will support small businesses by addressing the ever-evolving needs of Chicago’s business community during the ongoing period of pandemic recovery.


“The CSBS program will help to further advance our city's business recovery efforts,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It also provides an important opportunity to lay the foundation for an enduring, equitable and inclusive economy. I am grateful to BACP and its partners for bringing this program to life, which truly serves as the next step in our ongoing commitment to revitalizing our businesses and empowering the communities they serve.”


The program leverages the business development expertise and credibility of community-based business support organizations to connect local small businesses with vital resources to ensure they recover and thrive. The program will fund a diverse range of initiatives, each tailored to the needs of the local community. These include funding for free advising, coaching, and language access for businesses impacted by the pandemic; activations and campaigns that encourage Chicago residents and visitors to support local businesses; and supporting outdoor activities and plazas.


“By collaborating with community business organizations and advocates of Chicago’s small business community, the impact of our recovery will be greater,” said BACP Acting Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer. “Together, our city will become stronger and more resilient than ever before.”


The targeted relief and neighborhood development support to businesses and communities along Chicago’s commercial corridors will help to drive economic recovery. Inclusion and access will continue to be among the most important priorities for aiding small businesses through recovery.


“Through the program, we will be able to provide language access services to help small businesses better access COVID-19 relief funds and support services,” said Adrian Soto, Executive Director of Greater Southwest Development Corporation. “We are ensuring business owners are comfortable working with us to start and grow their business in our community.”


Chicago’s small businesses are fundamental to the economic livelihood of countless residents. This program will guide Chicago’s economic recovery by assisting small businesses in mitigating financial hardship, addressing the impacts of the pandemic, implementing COVID-19 prevention tactics, and establishing strategic business growth plans.


“We are excited to be part of the program that encourages small business recovery through unique programs,” said Sandi Price, Executive Director of Rogers Park Business Alliance. “The Live Love Shop Rogers Park campaign will be visibly seen in our community and across Chicago. We look forward to reactivating commercial corridors through a campaign that draws customers back to shopping and dining at our small, independently owned businesses.”


“The pandemic took a devastating toll on Chicago’s arts and culture community,” said Scott Holtz, General Manager of The New 400 Theaters. “But this year and moving forward, I have faith in our recovery and in the collaboration with my local business service organization. The kickoff campaign to the holiday season will be in front of the theater and it's this type of collaboration the COVID-19 Small Business Support Program is meant to create.”


Small businesses also lend unique character to Chicago’s many neighborhoods. Through the program, grantees will channel resources to local businesses to further vitalize neighborhood commercial corridors. The 57 CSBS Programs will be launched throughout the entire City, including commercial corridors in neighborhoods such as downtown, Little Village, Chatham, Rogers Park, and Garfield Park.


“This program is an opportunity to expand our current outreach efforts to deliver much-needed impact on Chicago's West Side,” said Ed Coleman, President & CEO of West Side Forward. “We will be able to even more effectively advise and inform small businesses of available financial relief programs and other services to support their recovery from the economic toll of the pandemic. With increased one-on-one support from our team, business owners in West Side communities will receive the guidance they need to confidently and successfully manage their business.”


This program builds upon prior investments in small business recovery, including the recent announcement of $22M in financial relief through the Chi Biz Strong Grant and Outdoor Dining Grant programs. For more information and to apply before the November 12 deadline, visit It also continues the city’s commitment of supporting businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic by building on programs like the Small Business Resource Navigators, the Neighborhood Business Development Centers and the Chicago Business Centers. Programs like these ensure our most impacted businesses have access to sustainable supports.


The program is funded under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and is managed by BACP. The program previews the strategic investments to create an equitable economic recovery for Chicago’s business community as outlined in the Chicago Recovery Plan. The Chicago Recovery Plan will invest holistically in communities and industries hardest hit by the pandemic to support economic recovery across the City.


For 2022, to expand economic opportunity and catalyze growth in the hardest-hit neighborhoods and industries, $87 million will be allocated to support businesses and entrepreneurs, connect residents with jobs, and increase the vibrancy and safety of commercials corridors.




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