Community Development Grant Resources
Below is a list of resources for potential grant applicants to the Chicago Recovery Plan community development grant program, which provides additional opportunities for the City to invest in catalytic local development, expanding upon existing investments and support from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD).
Chicago Recovery Plan Community Development Grant Information Session
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP):
- Business Support Tools
- Neighborhood Business Development Centers: Regional hubs supporting small businesses
Enhancing Project Readiness
The first step to taking on a project is to have control of the project site and be able to show evidence of this site control or be engaged in the process to obtain site control. The City acknowledges that for those who do not already own the property, obtaining site control before applying can be a significant barrier, so formal control is not required at the time of application.
However, applicants should be able to provide documentation demonstrating they are working with the seller or landlord of the property in order to secure control. Although grants can be used to renovate real estate, a project property that has significant issues, such as mechanic liens, court orders related to building code violations or substantial past due property taxes, are unlikely to be selected for a grant.
These are some available resources to help with project readiness:
Ensure the property is zoned for your proposed business type
Check for past due property taxes
Check for liens, pending cases, court orders and other issues
Look to see if there are any known building code violations or other disciplinary issues that need to be resolved
Learn how to set up and register your business
Free business education workshops covering a variety of topics for relevant for new and seasoned business owners
Demonstrating Financial Feasibility
Applicants should be able to detail the total project cost, including hard costs (e.g. building mechanical systems and façade repair), soft costs (e.g. architectural fees) and acquisition costs, when applicable. Once the total project cost has been calculated, applicants should also be able to demonstrate proof of funding for their share of project costs, in addition to, and outside of, the community development grant.
The City realizes that financing is often a challenge and realistically may not be finalized by the time of application. Successful applicants identify how much funding is needed and have considered how to fill funding gaps. Applicants who have not secured sources of funding for their share of project costs should be able to identify a strategy to secure the funding gap.
These are some available resources to help with financial feasibility:
ChiBizHub is a portal for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners looking for resources to start, scale or accelerate their business in Chicago.
Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) program provides grants to Chicago-based chambers of commerce and business support organizations, otherwise known as NBDC delegate agencies, to assist in the development of small businesses in Chicago, serve as liaison between local businesses and the City of Chicago, and provide neighborhood business development services.
Applicants should show construction bids and/or detail how the estimated construction costs are substantiated. It's a good idea to speak with general contractors before applying to understand the requirements, process, and cost estimates. Most, if not all, grant projects will need City of Chicago building permits so it is important to understand the permitting, construction, and inspection process.
These are some available resources to help with Construction Planning:
City of Chicago, Dept of Buildings
Find a licensed General Contractor
Chicago's Design Guidelines
The American Institute of Architects
Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) Technical Assistance Providers*
* While financial assistance for the NOF Technical Assistance Program is only available to NOF selected finalists and grantees, community development grant applicants may want to connect with these consultants prior to applying in order to better understand the services they provide. Applicants may work with these organizations outside of the NOF program if they chose (note that consultant’s fees must be paid for by the applicant).
Showing Catalytic Impact
The community development grant program uses existing community plans as well as input from elected officials and community stakeholders to identify projects that fill a community need and are desired by residents. Grant applicants should understand the local community area and be able to speak to how their project might enhance the strengths and opportunities in the neighborhood and/or mitigate any of the neighborhood's weaknesses or threats.
These are some available resources to help with addressing the impact of your project:
Find community plans for Chicago's Invest South/West neighborhoods
Find the local Ward
Find business and community reports for areas in Cook County
It is important to research and develop a business plan before embarking on a new business or making a significant investment into an existing business.
Here are a selection of resources on writing business plans, calculating your start-up costs, or developing financial projects, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statement. For more information or one-on-one coaching, we recommend using the City Resources listed above.