Businesses and buildings along 71st Street in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood on January 4, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

WOODLAWN — Licensed business owners in five South Side neighborhoods in need of critical repairs or upgrades to their building may be eligible for the next round of Small Business Improvement Fund grants.

The city is accepting applications for the fund, which grants up to $150,000 for single-owner commercial buildings and up to $250,000 for industrial properties and commercial buildings with multiple owners or tenants.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. March 3. The fund is open to businesses located within these tax increment financing, or TIF, districts:

  • Woodlawn: Bounded roughly by 61st Street to the north, Blackstone Avenue to the east, Marquette Road to the south and Cottage Grove Avenue to the west.
  • West Woodlawn: Bounded roughly by 60th Street, Cottage Grove Avenue, 68th Street, South Chicago Avenue and King Drive.
  • 71st/Stony Island: Targets portions of 67th, 71st, 75th and 79th streets and Stony Island and South Chicago avenues in South Shore and Avalon Park.
  • Commercial Avenue: Targets portions of 83rd and 95th streets and Commercial and South Chicago avenues in South Chicago, South Deering and Calumet Heights.
  • 35th/Halsted: Roughly bounded by 31st Street, Halsted Street, Pershing Road and Ashland Avenue in Bridgeport, extending west along Pershing to Damen Avenue.

To apply for funding, click here.

The grants help small, independent businesses pay for façade repairs, interior renovations, accessibility improvements, roofing, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical and other construction projects.

The grants cover 30 to 90 percent of project costs for commercial businesses, and up to 50 percent for industrial properties.

Eligible businesses must draw less than $9 million in annual sales, while industrial facilities must employ fewer than 200 people.

If demand is higher than available funding, grants will be awarded through a lottery process. Properties along Invest South/West corridors receive first priority in the lotteries.

TIF funds are generated from new developments in the district and property tax revenues. The Small Business Improvement Fund reinvests these tax revenues in the area where they were collected.

For full details on the application process, visit the Small Business Improvement Fund website or view a webinar about the process here.

Following the five South Side neighborhoods, the next application period for the North Branch South, Belmont/Central, Northwest Industrial Corridor, Ogden/Pulaski and Stony Island/Burnside Industrial TIF districts runs March 1–31.

Before and after photos of Omni Ecosystem’s rehab of 4131 S. State St. in Bronzeville for the company’s corporate headquarters. Credit: Provided

The Small Business Improvement Fund helped Omni Ecosytems relocate its corporate offices and 30 employees to Bronzeville, founder and CEO Molly Meyer said at a webinar Wednesday. Omni is a landscaping company and manufacturer that “finds new ways to put nature in, on and around buildings.”

Two years ago, the company received a $150,000 grant to rehab a 98-year-old building at 4131 S. State St. that had received “no investment in maintenance for 60 years,” Meyer said.

“We felt that this 98-year-old building was an asset to the community in Bronzeville, and it’s through the SBIF grant that we got a critical piece of capital so that we could complete this project,” Meyer said.

RELATED: Are You A West Side Business Owner Who Wants To Upgrade Your Building? A City Grant Can Help You Remodel

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