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CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) today announced 32 project finalists for $5.4 million in Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants. Nearly 90% of the award finalists are minority-owned businesses and half are located along commercial corridors being targeted through Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiatives.
“All that we’ve witnessed and experienced over the past few months shows us that our neighborhoods need economic anchors now more than ever before,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “These grants will help ensure that the South, Southwest and West sides of the City have viable, sustainable businesses that grow and thrive long after the current health crisis ends.”
The finalists include an eclectic mix of businesses, each of which are a unique staple in the community they serve, including a grocery store in Auburn Gresham, a Back of the Yards delicatessen, an Austin fitness center, a custom bake shop in Little Village, and a sit-down restaurant in Bronzeville.
Valued at more than $12.6 million in total project costs, the selected rehabilitation and new construction projects were among 325 applicants to the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund during an application round this winter, the program’s first under Mayor Lightfoot. The preliminary grant amounts range from approximately $37,000 to $250,000, and final grant amounts will be determined as projects are refined in the coming weeks and months.
“These grants are supporting business plans that, in some cases, have been years in the making," said DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox. “By providing financial resources that communities need and want, they’ll help ensure that local business corridors remain centers of economic activity for their respective neighborhoods.”
The City is implementing additional measures to directly address pandemic-related business needs under Mayor Lightfoot’s direction. These measures include the Chicago Small Business Relief Fund, the Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program, as well as the Together Now Fund, which is partially financed by DPD’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and Adopt-a-Landmark programs.
February’s grant application process offered an online project-readiness tool and other new enhancements designed to foster applicant success, including expedited grant access and local hiring bonuses that make all project costs eligible for 100% funding through the program.
Grant finalists will be provided with concierge service by DPD to help with contracting, construction permits, licenses, 4inancing and other needs as the projects move forward in coming months. The complete list of finalists is below:
The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund was created by DPD in 2016 to allocate zoning fees from downtown construction projects toward business projects along South, Southwest and South side commercial corridors. Grants may be applied toward costs including building rehabilitation, new construction, design, site acquisition and preparation, technical services and other expenses.
Additional finalist information, including preliminary grant amounts, can be found at www.NeighborhoodOpportunityFund.com.