About SBIF


“Whether you’re an entrepreneur pursuing your dreams in a start-up space, or a long-time employer looking to revitalize your business, the SBIF program could be the key to your future.” – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot

The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) provides grant funding for permanent building improvements and repairs across the city.

Offered by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to tenants and owners of industrial and commercial properties, SBIF grants are funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues in designated TIF districts citywide.

Program participants can receive grants to cover between 30 percent and 90 percent of improvement costs, with a maximum grant of $150,000 for commercial properties and $250,000 for industrial properties. The grants do not have to be repaid.

Grant applications and allocations are administered by SomerCor on behalf of the City of Chicago.

History

Since its inception in 1999, the SBIF program has provided $105 million to more than 1,400 small businesses across Chicago.

Program participants are as diverse as Chicago itself. Among hundreds of others, SBIF grants have supported a Bridgeport sausage factory, a free legal clinic in South Chicago, and an HVAC operator in West Pullman. The program helped the world's largest industrial coffee grinder grow its capacity in Little Village, and it supported the expansion of Chicago's first distillery since prohibition in Ravenswood.

To help support the program's goals, on-the-ground “delegate agency” organizations like chambers of commerce and business advocacy groups help their members to access and utilize the funding.

In December 2020, Mayor Lightfoot implemented the most ambitious infusion of capital into the program in its two-decade history. More than $60 million is being made available in 60 different TIF districts through 2023. Nearly $26 million of that investment will target INVEST South/West neighborhoods, $11 million of which will be reserved for the initiative's 12 priority corridors. 

As of 2021, the program is increasing the percentage of project costs available for grant assistance from 75 percent to 90 percent. Additionally, for the first time, participating businesses are able to draw down on grant funding through escrow accounts instead of waiting to be reimbursed at project completion.

Staff, partners, ward offices and even grant winners typically refer to the program simply by its acronym: SBIF — pronounced "spiff."

For detailed information about past grants and projects, see the Chicago Data Portal.