CHICAGO — As many as 1,000 small businesses in poor, minority and immigrant neighborhoods struggling during the new coronavirus crisis could qualify for $5,000 grants as part of a new City Hall initiative launched today to help companies that don’t qualify for federal assistance during the pandemic.
“Our small businesses are fundamentally rooted in, hiring in and building wealth in Chicago’s neighborhoods — which is why we need to ensure our local entrepreneurs most-impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have the resources and supports they need to survive this unprecedented moment of economic hardship,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “By providing $5000 in grants into the hands of up to 1,000 businesses, we are building on our commitment to ensure Chicago’s businesses have a road to recovery.”
The Chicago Community Trust in partnership with The One Chicago Fund raised $5 million for the so-called Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program, which will accept online applications starting today until Monday.
“Many of our businesses have been left out of other financial options because they lack lending relationships or are unable to take on debt,” city business affairs and consumer protection commissioner Rosa Escareno said. “This investment means that microbusinesses in critical areas of the city will have the cash they need to navigate this crisis.”
Eligible businesses must be open for more than a year, have four or fewer employees, less than $250,000 in annual revenue and have suffered a 25-percent decline in revenue as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The grants specifically target businesses that are located in community areas with at least 65-percent low- or moderate-income residents.
“Small businesses are critical to our city, and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to see the City stepping up to support our neighborhood businesses,” Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEP Jaime di Paulo said.
“Through this Grant Program hundreds of business owners that might be locked out of other funding opportunities will see the critical support they need. We are all in this together and efforts like this will help get us through this crisis.”
Grants will be chosen via lottery and awarded by May 11, city officials said.