November 16, 2020

Mayor Lightfoot Proposes $60 Million Infusion for Small Business Grant Program

Enhancements include higher grant amounts for building improvement projects


The City’s premiere small business retention program would make $60 million available as grants for building improvement projects over the next three years, under a financial proposal introduced to City Council today by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

Financed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues, the allocation to the City's Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) would be the largest in the program’s two-decade-long history.

“Chicago’s small businesses are the beating hearts of our communities,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Through this funding, we are directly addressing the needs of Chicago’s small business community by increasing the grant amounts and improving the terms that lead to project success.”

The proposal would increase the percentage of project costs available for grant assistance from 75 to 90% while raising maximum amounts for commercial properties from $100,000 to $150,000 and for industrial properties from $150,000 to $250,00. Participating businesses would also be able to draw down on SBIF funding through an escrow account instead of waiting to be reimbursed at project completion.

The funding would be made available in 60 designated TIF districts across Chicago through regularly scheduled application periods. Approximately 500 companies would be expected to participate over the next three years.

Businesses located in other TIF districts will continue to be eligible to apply for existing funding in their respective districts.

Since the program’s creation in 1999, SBIF has awarded $104 million in grants to approximately 1,400 small businesses citywide.

The SBIF application schedule for each TIF district would be made available starting next year.


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