CHICAGO — The city has created a $10 million fund that will go to small businesses hurt by vandalism and looting in recent days.
The Together Now fund will go to small businesses and not-for-profits throughout the city that experienced damage — though the city will have a particular eye toward helping West and South side businesses, which faced the worst of recent vandalism.
“We will certainly focus on those businesses that have been most hurt through the property damage and looting that occurred over the weekend and on Monday,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Friday press conference. “We will absolutely have an eye towards equity and we’ll work with the Chicago Community Trust to define the parameters, but it’s really for businesses all over the city.”
The city has not yet determined the eligibility requirements for businesses or how much it will award to each organization. Those looking for information or to donate can do so online.
The city is asking larger organizations to donate to the fund. Jewel-Osco, a grocery chain that also saw stores damaged this weekend, has given $1 million.
Jewel also launched a campaign so customers can donate: Through July 31, shoppers at all Chicago-area Jewel stores will be asked when checking out if they want to give $1, $3 or $5 to the Together Now Fund.
Businesses were already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic when people used protests over the police killing of George Floyd as cover to loot and vandalize, officials have said.
And the destruction came just as businesses were preparing to reopen this week after months of being closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But the fund will help local businesses get back on their feet so they can open up their doors, officials said.
“In one way, at the core of a lot of what we have seen, including the destruction, is a sense of hopelessness that a lot of people have been feeling,” said Helene Gayle, head of the Chicago Community Trust, which is managing the fund. “What we’re doing today is restoring hope … .”
Rosa Escareno, head of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said the money will support businesses and neighborhoods that badly need help.
“This is going to help us rebuild Chicago,” Escareno said.
Escareno said people can also help by shopping local, saying Chicago’s small businesses employ neighbors.
The city has also created an emergency alert system for business owners. People can text CHIBIZ to 67283 to sign up and they’ll receive area-specific text notifications of things that could impact their business, like road closures.
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