How to Jumpstart Your Business with a Small Business Improvement Fund

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“Money is tight!” seems to be the battle cry of every small business owner. Everyone is trying to do more with less luckily there are still some programs out there that can help. One such program is called the Small Business Improvement Fund. SBIF is funded using local Tax Increment Financing revenues to make improvements to commercial and industrial properties and/or tenants within specific TIF districts. Not all TIF areas have a SBIF but all SBIF’s are located in a TIF district. If your business is located in the city of Chicago and is in a SBIF zone, this program can be just the help you need.

SBIF is a reimbursing grant, not a loan and does not have to be repaid. According to the SomerCor 504 website, the organization that runs the SBIF program, recipients can receive reimbursing grants to cover 25 percent, 50 percent, or 75 percent of the cost of the remodeling work, with a maximum grant amount of $150,000. However, any work that is included in the SBIF Grant cannot begin until you have received written approval. Work begun before receiving written approval will be disqualified. Interested in SBIF, here are some of the steps to find out more:

1) Are you in a SBIF zone? Go to the Somercor504 website to see if your property is located in
a SBIF zone.

2) What exactly does SBIF cover? Permanent building improvements. Watch this video to get a better understanding of the SBIF opportunity. SBIF covers items such as but not limited to:
a. New window, floors or roof
b. Sign removal and replacement
c. Tuck pointing
d. New heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
e. Improvements to accommodate disabled patrons and workers
f. Purchase of adjacent property for building expansion or parking

3) How do I apply? Applications are accepted during roll out periods, or while a district is open. To find out when a rollout meeting is scheduled in your area contact your local chamber of commerce or SomerCor 504 C. They can tell you if your specific SBIF is currently funded and when it will be taking applications.

The SBIF process is a relatively simple process and can be a great help to any business trying to open or renovate. The staff at SomerCor 504 C is very responsive and does a great job of walking applicants through the process. If you are thinking of investing in your business, I highly recommend this program. 

Melissa Flynn is passionate about her community and passionate about her job as the executive director for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. For the past seven years she has been creating a sense of place that has helped to transform the Lincoln Square community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. Under her leadership in 2011, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce achieved the highly coveted three-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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