BACK OF THE YARDS — A state program to help small businesses recover from the pandemic is investing $1.5 million to revitalize a South Ashland Avenue commercial area.
The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council received the funding from the state’s Rebuild Distressed Communities program. The program also awarded grants to proposals to deliver “long-term improvements” along commercial corridors, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Craig Chico, CEO and president of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, said the money will support a $50 million effort to overhaul the retail strip at the 4600 block of South Ashland Avenue.
The past two years “shined a light on the lack of investment in the corridor,” problems that were exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest, Chico said. Chico said he hopes the state money is enough to start rebuilding a 1.25-acre plot of land in the middle of the block that’s an “eyesore.”
This block is just around the corner from another development on West 47th Street that will bring affordable housing and a community hub through the city’s Invest South/West Initiative.
The program gave out $8.4 million in small businesses and economic corridors as part of the state’s $250 million Back to Business program.
“A strong pandemic economic recovery includes recognizing that some communities have long been denied their fair share of resources,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement.
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