August 28, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Launches Small Business Council To Develop Pro-Business Reforms For Second Term

Council Will Make Recommendations on Further Reducing Red Tape, Expanding Access to Capital, Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Increasing Support Resources for Small Business

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel announced today that he is appointing a Small Business Advisory Council to be tasked with developing the City of Chicago’s small business growth strategy for the second term. Building on initiatives undertaken over the last four years, the Council will develop new strategies around areas including reducing red tape, expanding access to capital, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and increasing support resources for small businesses. The appointment of the Small Business Council was one of the recommendations made by Mayor Emanuel’s second term transition committee to establish a stakeholder group to develop new reforms to strengthen support for small businesses. The transition committee report can be reviewed here.

“Facilitating the growth of Chicago’s small businesses is critical for the continued economic growth of our city, because they are the backbone of the economy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We continue to see the payoff of our effort to support small businesses - from Inc. Magazine ranking Chicago second in the nation for the number of fast growing small businesses, to the increased revenue seen by the hundreds of businesses that have participated in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program –and we will continue to double down on our efforts to make Chicago a partner for them, not a problem.”

The Small Business Advisory Council will consist of neighborhood business owners and representatives from nonprofits, government agencies, and local chambers of commerce. The following will serve as members of the Council:

  • Gerry Alvarado, Geralex, Inc.
  • Jonathan Brereton, Accion
  • Lori Brown-Carter, Soul Vegetarian Restaurant
  • Pedro J. Cevallos-Candau, Primera Engineers, Ltd.
  • Ken Coates, KenTech Consulting
  • Steve DeBretto, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC)
  • Emilia DiMenco, Women’s Business Development Center
  • Omar Duque, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • John Flavin, Chicago Innovation Exchange
  • Ty Fujimura, Arami Restaurant
  • Cheryl Freeman Smith, Olive Harvey College
  • Emmanuel Jackson, Evanston Technology Partners
  • Melinda Kelly, Chatham Business Association
  • Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware
  • Marianne Markowitz, Small Business Administration
  • Mary O’Connor, Former Alderman, Unforgettable Edibles
  • Daniel Pikarski, Gordon & Pikarski
  • Maria Pinto, M2057 boutique
  • Ellen Shepard, Andersonville Chamber of Commerce
  • Sam Toia, Illinois Restaurant Association
  • Stu Zirin, Minibar Chicago

Mayor Emanuel has asked the Council to focus on developing recommendations along four priority areas that have been critical to growth of the city’s small business community over the last four years:

  • Reducing Red Tape. In 2012, the City launched a restaurant start-up program that has been utilized by over 1,000 restaurants and cut start-up times by a third. In 2013, the Emanuel Administration reduced the number of business license categories by 60 percent, saving more than 10,000 local small businesses over $2 million, annually. That year, the Mayor also announced the creation of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection’s Small Business Center (SBC), which provides a one-stop-shop for small businesses which has reduced wait times by 50 percent. Mayor Emanuel also phased out, then eliminated the anti-jobs head tax, leading to savings of more than $9 million annually for Chicago small businesses, and. And by the end of December 2015, the City’s business license process will be entirely paperless.
  • Expanding Access to Capital. In May 2012, Mayor Emanuel launched the Chicago Micro-lending Institute to help businesses access loans up to $25,000. To date, $2 million in micro-loans have been allocated to over 210 businesses – 80 percent of which are minority-owned - with more than 850 jobs created or retained. Last year, the City invested an additional $1 million to provide critical loans to help support roughly 300 new businesses by 2016 and ensure that the program can be self-funding through 2016. Additionally, Mayor Emanuel created Small Business Opportunity Centers, to support businesses in obtaining loans of up to $250,000.
  • Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship include technology incubator 1871, which opened in 2012 and whose member and alumni companies have added over 2,500 jobs to Chicago’s technology economy, and MATTER, the City’s new entrepreneurship and innovation incubator for next-generation health IT, medical device, diagnostics and biopharma companies that opened in February. In May, 2015, the Mayor announced the Chicago Startup Boot Camp, aimed at supporting the thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses located in Chicago’s more than 70 incubators, accelerators and co-working spaced with programs designed to address the needs of our city’s small business owners. This week, the city also allowed mobile boutiques that sell goods such as clothing and shoes to participate in the Daley Plaza Food Truck Fest, farmer’s markets and other local events over the next few months as a first step towards licensing them on the Emerging Business Permit.
  • Increasing Support Resources. In 2014, Mayor Emanuel, along with Cook County Board President Preckwinke, established Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), to encourage Chicago’s leading institutions to support local small business growth in their neighborhoods. In its first year, the small businesses that participated in the CASE program saw an average increase in revenue of $804,000. Building on that success, in March 2015, the Mayor announced that a program expansion would increase the number of anchor institutions from 11 to at least 20. CASE has the potential to drive up to $80 million in additional revenue to neighborhood small businesses and create hundreds of new jobs annually. Mayor Emanuel also appointed the City’s first-ever Chief Small Business Officer to serve as an advocate for small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout Chicago.

By mid-December, the Small Business Advisory Council will develop and present a report to the Mayor detailing a strategic plan for small business growth.


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