City offers Chicago Recovery Plan community development grants

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Chicago Recovery Plan community development grants are being made available to Chicago entrepreneurs, small businesses and developers, with the initial round open through January 2022, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) announced on Dec. 23.

The community development grants are part of the Chicago Recovery Plan’s $1.2 billion strategy for equitable economic recovery and support for thriving and safe communities.

“Community development is essential for creating thriving and safe communities on our road to an equitable economic recovery,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “These grants will provide much-needed support to existing and new businesses, spurring economic activity across our city in tandem with our continued investments through initiatives like INVEST South/West. I’m pleased we’re keeping our promise made through the Chicago Recovery Plan to invest in our residents and communities.”

To be administered by DPD, the application process will consider a diverse array of improvement projects, including storefront upgrades; large development proposals with entertainment, retail and dining options; and projects that create spaces with public amenities. Projects may apply for the small grant program up to $250,000 or the large grant program up to $5 million.

“By investing in neighborhoods, the grants will bring new businesses and entertainment options to Chicago’s commercial corridors, help existing businesses stabilize or grow, and preserve or create hundreds of jobs,” DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox said.

Preferred applications will seek to create:

  • Catalytic projects with a strong local impact.
  • Projects in historically disinvested areas that build upon existing efforts such as Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West Initiative and community safety initiatives.
  • Commercial, mixed-use, and light manufacturing projects that create jobs and services.

Projects that demonstrate momentum and are expected to break ground in 2022 will also be prioritized. Grant funding can be used for pre-development, renovation, and new construction expenses, up to 75% of total project costs. Purely residential projects are not eligible for this round of funding; further funding opportunities for residential projects are expected to be announced in Q1 2022.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The first-round application deadline is Jan. 31, followed by a second-round application deadline of March 10. Applicants who are not prepared to apply for either round are encouraged to review all relevant materials and prepare to apply for a third application round in the summer.

This community development grant application represents another marker in the Chicago Recovery Plan’s equitable economic recovery efforts. Partially funded by American Rescue Plan (ARP) Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the Chicago Recovery Plan will make a once-in-a-generation series of investments in our city. In addition to supporting community development, the Chicago Recovery Plan will make substantial investments in small business support, community-based violence prevention and reduction, and affordable housing. The Chicago Department of Housing recently announced the first use of these funds to catalyze more than $1 billion in development — the largest affordable housing announcement in our city’s history.

For more information on the Chicago Recovery Plan community development grant application, go to Chicago.gov/ChiRecoveryGrant. An informational webinar will be held on Thursday, Jan. 6 at 12 p.m. and a recording of the webinar will be posted to city’s website.

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