Tag: Small business loan fund

Nine businesses apply to SBIF in North Branch South

The City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) is one of the best tools we have to foster economic development, add high-quality jobs, and strengthen businesses in our service area.

For these reasons, we’re thrilled that nine businesses located in the North Branch South TIF District, including Gabriel Environmental Services (pictured above), applied for a SBIF grant when the opportunity opened in March.

SBIF provides reimbursable grants to businesses for permanent building repairs and improvements. The program is open to commercial and industrial businesses. SBIF funds can be used to pay for storefront renovations, building systems, interior remodeling, and roof replacements.

Commercial businesses are eligible for grants covering 30%, 60%, or 90% of a project’s costs while industrial businesses with 200 or fewer employees can receive reimbursement for 50% of the cost of a building upgrade.

North Branch Works staff conducted extensive outreach for the program in the North Branch South TIF, including highlighting it in three e-newsletters, making phone calls, and sending emails and letters encouraging eligible businesses to apply.

Guild Row, previous SBIF recipient in the Addison South TIF District

It’s great that many of these businesses in the North Branch South TIF will receive grants; the strong interest in SBIF will help us make the case the City of Chicago should invest more money in the program in the next cycle.

Please keep in mind that North Branch Works’ low-interest Small Business Loan program can be leveraged so your business doesn’t have to find financing or divert working capital for your project. And in some cases, we may be able to make a loan greater than your SBIF award.

Because SBIF is reimbursable, businesses are required to pay for the project up front and then submit documents to SomerCor, the program administrator, to receive reimbursement.

In the past year, North Branch Works made a low-interest loan to a member business that received a SBIF grant; the business carried out its improvement project immediately and then repaid the loan when it received its SBIF grant.

SBIF continues to open in TIF Districts across the city every month. Some of the SBIFs that will open close to North Branch Works’ service area include:

  • Western Avenue South in June of 2021
  • Fullerton/Milwaukee in August 2021,
  • Western Avenue North in October 2021
  • Avondale in November 2021.

The next TIF District scheduled to open for SBIF in our service area is Western Avenue South in June of 2021.

To see a full calendar of SBIF openings, please go here.

With questions about SBIF and North Branch Works’ Small Business Loan Fund, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

Image credit: Gabriel Environmental Services

Image credit: Guild Row

City economic development programs return great value

As the City of Chicago begins to develop its budget for next year, it’s important to keep in mind that economic development programs for neighborhood businesses have never been more valuable.

Because the pandemic and recent social unrest have affected businesses in numerous ways, organizations like North Branch Works require flexibility to meet ever-changing business needs.

Every day, we provide a variety of crucial support services to businesses as a delegate city agency through two programs: the Neighborhood Business Development Center (NBDC), funded by the Chicago Department of Business and Consumer Protection, and the Local Industrial Retention Initiative (LIRI), funded by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

And to give you an idea of our annual impact, we consult with over 108 business through LIRI and over 72 new businesses through NBDC. Our program area includes all or parts of the following city wards: 2, 27, 32, 33, 35, 42, 43, 44, and 47.

Our NBDC services include helping new businesses navigate the city’s licensing process, transition from startups into mature and growing businesses, and access financial resources such as grants and low-interest loans.

Recently, North Branch Works promoted grants available through Chicago’s Together Now Fund and the State of Illinois’ Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program. As a result, one of our member businesses secured a $20k grant to help cover the costs of having to suspend operations during the pandemic.

Our NBDC work also allows us to build strong relationships with businesses and identify candidates for our low-interest small business loan program, which is another resource that can be leveraged for business growth.

And through LIRI, we advocate for and support larger industrial businesses. Retaining industrial jobs is crucial because they pay family-sustaining wages and require middle skills—often only two years beyond high school.

As a central part of LIRI, North Branch Works regularly convenes Infrastructure Task Force meetings to identify and push for business-friendly improvements to the built environment.

Some of our recent wins include the installation of a new stop sign on Goose Island, providing up to date information about the upcoming Division Street Bridge project as well as the update to the Halsted Triangle Plan, and participating in the Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council.

The LIRI program also allows us to connect businesses directly to valuable city programs such as the Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF), TIFWorks, and TIF 50/50. These programs can cover all or some of the costs of building upgrades for your business and training your workforce.

North Branch Works urges Mayor Lightfoot and City Council Members to commit to increasing funding for these essential neighborhood economic development programs in the 2021 budget.

These economic development programs support our vision of a thriving business sector along the North Branch that would bring many benefits to Chicago including family-sustaining jobs, increased revenues to the city, and a strong and healthy consumer base.

If you are a business and would like to explore how our services could benefit you, please contact Steve Simmons, Director of Business and Economic Development, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

Connecting North Branch Works members to financial resources

During these challenging times for businesses, our staff is working hard to identify city, state, and federal funding opportunities and help our members secure them.

Recently, we were thrilled to help two members successfully obtain $20k grants from the State of Illinois’ Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program. This grant will help the business cover the cost of having to suspend operations between March and April due to the pandemic.

Our staff did the research and determined our members were eligible. Then we contacted our members; we’re grateful they applied promptly. Along the way, we facilitated a connection between the business owner and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which proved valuable when the state later decided to extend the grant deadline, making it possible for them to apply.

It’s great to see state resources coming into our service area to support our member businesses. And we’re continuing to encourage and support members in applying for opportunities like Chicago’s Together Now Fund, which recently accepted applications from businesses and nonprofits for grants of up to $4,000 to cover operating expenses.

Another financial resource to keep in mind is our low-interest Small Business Loan program. We can make loans of up to $25,000 to startups and up to $50,000 to established businesses. And in some cases, we can loan larger amounts.

There’s nothing we’d like more than to support businesses right now with these resources. Please find more information about the loan program here, including the list of eligible neighborhoods.

One of the best member benefits we provide is our staff capacity to find grants and valuable opportunities for your business. We understand the demands of running a business likely consume all your time.

For this reason, we’d love to support you by doing research and advocacy on your behalf and connecting you to other businesses in the North Branch community so dollars are spent locally as much as possible.

And we’d be grateful for the opportunity to help your business secure funding like we did recently with the BIG grant. It’s a great example of the value of being a North Branch Works member.

If you’d like to join North Branch Works, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org