SBIF Eligibility

This page provides a top-line overview of the eligibility requirements for the Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF). For detailed information, please review the program rules.

Eligible Areas

SBIF grants are available in eligible TIF districts across Chicago on a regular rollout schedule. To find out if your property or business is located in a district with funding available soon, search the address above.

Applications should only be submitted during the application window identified for your TIF district on the Rollout Calendar page.

Eligible Expenses

Most permanent building improvements are eligible for SBIF grants, including: 

  • Exterior renovations and repairs, including new windows, doors and roofs
  • Interior remodeling, including framing, drywall, flooring and ceilings
  • HVAC, electrical and plumbing system upgrades
  • Tuck-pointing and masonry repairs
  • Structural components of new signage
  • ADA improvements
  • Project-related architectural and construction management fees
Eligible Applicants

The program is available for applicants that are:

  • Commercial businesses with gross annual sales of up to $9 million on average over the previous three years
  • Commercial property owners with a net worth of up to $9 million and liquid assets of up to $500,000
  • Industrial businesses with up to 200 full-time employees

Residential projects are not eligible for SBIF grants.

Ineligible Expenses

A number of specific types of work cannot be financed by SBIF grants. While they can be a part of a project approved for SBIF assistance, these expenses will not be eligible for reimbursement:

  • New construction
  • Minor repairs or improvements such as painting or cleaning
  • Equipment-related expenses
  • Planters surrounding or affixed to buildings
  • Work on the interior of residential units in mixed-use buildings
  • All fencing
  • Parking lot construction or repair
  • Landscaping
  • Other work not consistent with program or TIF goals
Ineligible Applicants

Several types of businesses are explicitly ineligible for SBIF grants. These include:

  • Chain and franchise businesses
  • Branch banks
  • Day labor employment agencies
  • Currency exchanges, pay day, and title secured loan stores
  • Pawn shops
  • Fortune telling services
  • Liquor stores, bars and night clubs
  • Adult uses
  • Hotels or motels
  • Track waging facilities
  • K-12 schools
  • Gas stations
  • Firearms dealers
  • Places of worship
  • Smoke shops and cigar lounges
  • Tobacco dealers, including sales of tobacco, nicotine, or similar products and accessories
  • Residential storage warehouses
  • Trailer-storage yards, junk yards, and similar uses

Other restrictions do apply. Please review the program rules for full details, and direct questions to SomerCor at sbif@somercor.com.

Questions on eligibility can also be brought to monthly rollout webinars, typically hosted by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and SomerCor on the first Wednesday of each month. To sign up for the next webinar, visit the Rollout Calendar page.