Mayor Lightfoot's $60 Million Small Business Plan Approved by City Council

December 16, 2020

Improved Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) Will Support Approximately 500 Businesses Citywide Through New Grants

The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) will make over $60 million available as grants for building improvement projects over the next three years under a financial measure approved today by City Council. Financed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues, the funding allocation is the largest in the SBIF program's 20-year history.

"Thanks to this improvement to the SBIF program, we will be able to provide more support to our small business community over the next three years than in the prior eight years combined," Mayor Lightfoot said. "This move, which also uses TIF revenues in a meaningful way, is truly emblematic of my administration's commitment to finding creative and effective solutions to the problems our small businesses face. With funding plans like SBIF, we will be able to help our small business community survive and prosper for years to come, especially as they continue to recover from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."

SBIF funds are available to small businesses for eligible expenses involving workplace improvements and repairs, including interior and exterior renovations; electrical and plumbing upgrades; expansion expenses; and other costs.

Starting in 2021, the program is also increasing the percentage of project costs available for grant assistance from 75 percent to 90 percent, while raising maximum amounts for commercial properties from $100,000 to $150,000 and for industrial properties from $150,000 to $250,000.

Also, for the first time, participating businesses will be able to draw down on grant funding through escrow accounts instead of waiting to be reimbursed at project completion.

“These program enhancements were developed in consultation with small business owners, as well as our delegate agencies across the City, all of whom have been invaluable, on-the-ground partners in growing the SBIF program over the past two decades,” said Commissioner Maurice Cox of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), which administers the SBIF program.

The new funding will be made available in 60 designated TIF districts across Chicago through regularly scheduled application periods. The ordinance allocates nearly $26 million for TIF districts located in INVEST South/West neighborhoods, $11 million of which will be targeted toward the initiative's 12 priority corridors. Under the new program rules, the City is also required to prioritize all SBIF applications received along INVEST South/West corridors.

Businesses located in other TIF districts will continue to be eligible to apply for existing funding in their respective districts. Approximately 500 businesses are expected to be selected as grant recipients through 2023.

The SBIF application schedule for each TIF district for the next three years will be announced in early 2021. The schedule for the first quarter is listed below.

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

The SBIF program has allocated more than $100 million in TIF revenues for more than 1,700 workplace improvement projects since its inception approximately 20 years ago.

For more information on the program, visit www.chicago.gov/sbif.

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