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Chicago’s Tourism Bureau Lands $5.5 Million Grant To Bring More Visitors To City Neighborhoods

Twelve neighborhoods primarily on the South and West sides will be added to the city's marketing efforts to encourage visitors to explore more of the city, officials said.

Douglass Park in North Lawndale on June 16, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city’s tourism arm is getting a $5.5 million boost from the federal government to persuade more people to visit Chicago’s neighborhoods, with much of the effort being focused on the South and West sides.

The funds for Choose Chicago come from the American Rescue Act, President Joe Biden’s signature measure to provide relief to people and businesses who’ve faced setbacks during the pandemic.

The money will help Choose Chicago invest in marketing to “position Chicago and its neighborhoods as prime destinations for residents and visitors alike,” according to the news release.

The influx will more than double funding for neighborhood tourism marketing, according to a news release. Choose Chicago, which is supported by local hotel taxes, saw its budget plunge during the pandemic, according to Crain’s.

Twelve new neighborhoods, primarily on the South and West sides, will be added to the city’s tourism efforts. They are:

  • Auburn Gresham
  • Austin
  • Back of the Yards
  • Englewood
  • Lincoln Park
  • Lincoln Square
  • New City
  • North Center
  • North Lawndale
  • Roseland
  • South Chicago
  • Hyde Park
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
People swim in Lake Michigan at Promontory Point in Hyde Park in September.

Funding will support local content creators, cleanup efforts, professional photography services for small businesses, tour operator training, digital ads and way-finding signs through neighborhoods, according to the news release.

The tourist agency held 20 meetings over the last year to ask community members about ways to best promote their neighborhoods. Officials now plan to host more forums with the additional funding.

“Tourism is about bringing economic benefits, but it needs to be lead by the community so it doesn’t lead to gentrification and displacement,” Choose Chicago spokesperson Isaac Reichman said. “Our goal with this money is to make sure our tourism marketing efforts have a very strong neighborhood focus.”

Promotional materials for Choose Chicago neighborhoods can be found here.

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