Ten million dollars in new business development grants is now available in Chicago, but it’s up to business owners in low-income communities to apply for the cash.
The first of two application rounds for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants this year started Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office announced.
“As the City launches the first round of applications in 2020 for the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, we are maximizing the availability to local funds and easing access to capital, which will help businesses get to work more quickly,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “[Tuesday's] announcement of additional funding builds on our commitment to drive transformative inclusive growth in neighborhoods with the greatest need. Our efforts to reform the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant process will support more local businesses and entrepreneurs, sending a clear message that every community in Chicago is open for business.”
The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Grants are paid for by downtown developers. When a new high rise goes up, the builder pays into the NOF fund.
The deadline for the round of applications is Feb. 29.
The owner of ‘345 Art Gallery’ in East Garfield Park, Corry Williams, said the $200,000 grant he received in 2017 allowed him to expand his space and educational programs.
“Owning a business is hard - I understand. So I encourage everyone to apply, and get that help from the city,” Williams said.
Lightfoot said the first grant recipients of 2020 will be announced in April, with a second round of funds available in July. The most awarded to one business is $250,000.