Tag: small businesses

Apply for a low-interest business loan from North Branch Works

Having access to North Branch Works’ low-interest business loan fund is a valuable benefit we provide to our members.

Our mission is to strengthen economic development in our service area by helping businesses get started, grow, and expand so they can provide high-quality jobs to Chicagoans.

Toward that end, we have a microloan fund that can make loans of up to $25,000 to startup companies and up to $50,000 to existing businesses.

Our interest rates range from 2-8% and the term ranges from 6-36 months with a small 2% closing cost. In some cases such as when a business has received a Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) award, we can make loans above these limits.

Because SBIF projects must be financed by a business before it can submit for reimbursement from the City of Chicago, our loan fund is a great way to avoid diverting capital or taking out a loan from another lender at a higher interest rate.

Loans from North Branch Works can be used for business purposes such as purchasing equipment and inventory, customizing and repairing your physical space, and working capital.

The primary goal of our loan fund is to help businesses grow and expand while incurring the lowest possible costs. For example, let’s say a business in our service area needs to make $17,000 worth of improvements to a physical space before it can move into our area and open.

The business could apply to our loan fund; for the sake of this example, let’s assume our loan fund committee reviews and approves the loan at 2%. We can issue the check immediately. At this rate, it would cost the company $340 to borrow $17,000 and the 2% APR would be amortized over the term of the loan.

And if your business needs a loan that is larger than what we can offer, we’d love to connect you to other lenders in our network like Allies for Community Business and LISC Chicago.

Coming out of the pandemic, North Branch Works would like to see our resources deployed in our service area and positioning our members for present and future success.

Currently, we have a goal of making two low-interest loans by the end of 2021. For more information, please see our business loan fund one-pager.

With questions and to express interest in applying to our business loan fund, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org.

SR Solutions Inc. joins North Branch Works

A family-owned construction business, SR Solutions Inc. helps commercial and residential clients improve their quality of life by completing projects using high-quality sustainable materials.

Located in North Center, the company offers a wide range of full interior remodeling services including customizing offices, small restaurant spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

For over twenty-two years, the owner, Stoyan Rizov (pictured above with NBW staff Steve Simmons), has completed incredible remodeling projects using reclaimed materials across the Chicago region from Northbrook to the South Loop.

His company grew out of his passion for the building trades at an early age. Because he grew up in an artistic family, it was natural for the company to combine high-quality craftsmanship with innovative design services.

As someone who loves the City of Chicago, Stoyan prides himself on providing customers with honest advice and helping them make the best choices according to their needs. He knows his customers are counting on him to pay close attention to details and complete the project on budget.

Indeed, the company has never received a complaint from a client in its fourteen-year history.

SR Solutions can repair masonry, remove pesticides and mold, fix leaky faucets, install doors, and fix or replace HVAC building systems. There’s really no project that is too big or small for the company.

Hiring SR Solutions for your project is a great way to support a local family-owned business and jobs along the North Branch. In order to complete larger projects, the company partners with window crews, demolition teams, designers, and a kitchen cabinet company.

In a typical year, SR Solutions finishes between twenty to twenty-five projects because the business prioritizes carrying out high-quality work over doing a large volume of projects. And usually that focus results in the company completing about two projects per month.

Currently, SR Solutions is hiring skilled remodelers and general laborers. If you or someone in your network would like to find out more information and apply, please call 773-799-6560.

North Branch Works is thrilled to welcome SR Solutions as a new member business.  If you’ve been thinking about and/or putting off a repair project, we highly recommend making an appointment with SR Solutions Inc.

We would also like to recognize Marina Rizova, Designer and Sustainability Director, for her leadership and service on our Board of Directors.

Stoyan Rizov would like to network with his fellow North Branch Works members. With questions and to reach out to him, please call 773-799-6560.

Image credits: SR Solutions Inc.

Bike the North Branch on August 7th

Join us for a leisurely bike tour of the North Branch on Saturday, August 7th from 10 a.m. to noon.

The tour includes stops at incredible destinations in our service area including Morton Salt (pictured above), the Hideout, Guild Row, Rockwell on the River, Green Exchange, and Ravinia Brewing.

We’ll hear from business owners and talk about the area’s rich industrial history and future plans.

For most of the roughly five-mile bike ride, we’ll use bike lanes on Elston Avenue.

We’ll meet at the Morton Salt project site located at 1357 N. Elston Avenue. The ride will end at Ravinia Brewing Company’s new taproom in Logan Square (2601 W. Diversey Avenue) near the CTA’s #76 Diversey Bus stop.

This is a great way to learn more about local businesses, their plans for re-opening, and how we can support them.

Please register here with a suggested donation of $20. Proceeds support the neighborhood economic development work of North Branch Works.

With questions and for more information, please contact Steve Simmons at 773-929-5552 x2226 or steve@northbranchworks.org

                                        

North Branch Works mourns the passing of Kevin Clark at Logan & Western

The viability of Chicago’s industrial and commercial corridors relies upon people having safe and easy access to them regardless of how they choose to travel to, from, and within these important areas.

North Branch Works is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Kevin Clark in a crash while riding his bike at Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue, a notoriously dangerous intersection in our service area for all transportation users.

We stand with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Active Transportation Alliance, and Kevin Clark’s family and friends in calling on our elected officials to build safety improvements immediately at Logan and Western.

It’s clear that the intersection of Logan and Western is broken and has been neglected for far too long. We can’t wait any longer for safety upgrades that will save lives and strengthen neighborhoods and local businesses.

The commercial area on Logan Boulevard east of Western Avenue is a vibrant economic hub with people frequently traveling to and from it for work and to purchase goods and services.

In 2018, the Active Transportation Alliance worked with Logan Square Neighborhood Association to develop a variety of community-informed recommendations to improve the intersection (see image right), including adding a protected bike lane, improving lighting and the timing of traffic signals, and installing a new crosswalk on the south side of Logan across Western.

If you live in Chicago, please take a moment to sign this petition calling on Mayor Lightfoot and your alderman to fix Logan and Western and make streets safer for biking across the city.

The family of Kevin Clark, Active Transportation Alliance, and Chicago Ride of Silence will hold a vigil and press conference on Saturday, June 12th at 10 a.m. at the Logan Square Monument.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to the Facebook event.

Image credits: Active Transportation Alliance and Port Urbanism

Sign up for North Branch Works’ Spring Fundraiser on May 20th

Here’s your chance to support neighborhood businesses, high-quality jobs, and the North Branch of the Chicago River as a great place to work and do business.

Please register for our virtual Spring Fundraiser on May 20th at 6:30 p.m. Our entertaining, one-hour program on Zoom will feature dynamic local businesses including:

  • MxD, a woman-led, membership-based manufacturing institute on Goose Island that does incredible work building the capacity and security of American manufacturers.
  • Essanay Studio and Lighting, a company that helps clients shoot high-quality commercials and movies by supplying world-class studios and equipment.
  • A live interview with Anne Bigane Wilson, President of Bigane Paving.
  • Calihan Catering, a family-owned multi-generational catering and events business on Goose Island.

And we’ll learn about current projects and future plans for the area from Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) and Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward).

Along the way, we’ll enjoy a beer tasting with Revolution Brewing’s Josh Deth as well as snacks from Calihan Catering.*

Our Spring Fundraiser will be an hour of fun and entertainment. We hope you can join us. Thank you for supporting businesses, high-quality jobs, and sustainable economic development in Chicago.

The suggested minimum donation is $25. To purchase a ticket, please go here.

* If you live in the Chicago region, our staff will deliver beer and snacks to you in advance of the event.

With questions, please contact Steve Simmons, 773-929-5552 x2226, steve@northbranchworks.org

                                       

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

Vision One Agency helps businesses & nonprofits tell unforgettable stories

After attending film school at Columbia College Chicago, Will Sullivan (pictured above middle) spent seven years working in various video ad productions, developing incredible marketing and communications skills in the process.

Now, as the owner and co-founder of Vision One Agency, he applies his passion for filmmaking by helping businesses and nonprofits elevate their brands through powerful storytelling.

Founded in March of 2020, Vision One Agency is a creative video agency that serves a wide range of clients in key markets of Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The company specializes in commercials, documentaries, social videos, stop motion animation, and short films.

The business overcame the challenges of opening right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by stringing together a series of small projects designed to help restaurants and neighborhood businesses.

Regardless of where you find yourself in the creative process, Vision One Agency will tailor its approach to meet your needs. Indeed, the business prides itself on being able to help clients come up with innovative ideas and carry them through every stage of the production process with careful attention to details.

Vision One Agency’s dedicated and talented staff has expertise in video production, writing, editing, acting, and animation. Based in Bucktown, Will and his team are invested in the success of Chicago’s small and industrial businesses, nonprofits, and neighborhoods.

Some of Vision One Agency’s recent clients include Cresco Labs, Waterton Real Estate, Remy Martin, Coda di Volpe, and North Branch Works (to name a few).

It’s a great time to partner with Vision One Agency given the importance of hosting virtual events, they can assist in producing great storytelling content for your live streams, web, and social.

In fact, North Branch Works hired the company to produce video features of our members for our first-ever Fall Fundraiser.

Please see these incredible video features of North Branch Works and our members: Metropolitan Brewing, mHub Chicago, and Guild Row.

In our case, we had a talented interviewer and three member businesses lined up; Vision One Agency helped us with the production and editing of these videos as well as thinking through our virtual program.

North Branch Works is thrilled to welcome Vision One Agency as one of our newest member businesses. The company is the only video production agency in our network; we highly recommend working with Will and his team.

Vision One Agency would love to network with and support its fellow North Branch Works member businesses and nonprofits. The business is open to working with organizations that have limited budgets.

To see its latest projects, please follow the company on Instagram and Facebook.

To connect with Vision One Agency, please reach out to Will Sullivan, Co-Founder, 312-566-8534, will@v1a.co.

Image credits: Vision One Agency

SYNLawn of Chicago joins North Branch Works

For over ten years, SYNLawn of Chicago has improved quality of life by supplying and installing a variety of high-quality products such as synthetic turf, green walls, rubber surfacing, and sports tiles.

An affiliate of AstroTurf, the company launched in 2010 due to the emergence of a commercial and residential market for artificial turf. We’re fortunate to have this neighborhood business in the North Branch as it is the licensed distributor of SYNLawn products to Illinois.

Located at 2632 W. Barry Avenue (pictured above), SYNLawn has twenty-five synthetic grass products in its showroom that can solve many challenging livability issues. And if you visit in person, you can rest assured the company is following strict COVID-19 protocols such as requiring face masks and social distancing.

Installing synthetic grass in your home or office creates many benefits including reduced energy costs as well as saving time and energy on lawn maintenance.

SYNLawn’s talented and experienced staff can help you design and carry out improvement projects such as roof-decks, dog parks, landscaping, and putting greens. Along with improving quality of life at home and/or for your employees, investing in amenities like roof-decks increases property values.

To help people enjoy the many health benefits of living in green spaces, the company sells artificial green walls (pictured below), which are designed for people who desire this experience and might not be able to invest the time and energy into maintaining a natural one. Many of SYNLawn’s green walls appear in offices and hospitality businesses throughout Chicago.

SYNLawn also offers rubber surfacing products that minimize injuries from falls and accidents. This product line is ideal for playgrounds, athletic arenas, courts, and city parks.

And thanks to its production of sports tiles, the business can design and build projects such as indoor and outdoor basketball courts. Each tile is slip-proof, tailored to fit the exact space, and tough enough to survive the most extreme weather conditions.

SYNLawn cares deeply about Chicago neighborhoods and its fellow small businesses in the North Branch. During the pandemic last summer, the company partnered with local restaurants, helping them get through the worst of it by creating attractive green spaces for outdoor dining.

North Branch Works is proud to welcome SYNLawn of Chicago as one of our newest members. The company’s entire product line is manufactured in the United States; working with SYNLawn is a great way to support manufacturing and living-wage employment.

Currently, SYNLawn is offering free project estimates and would love to network with fellow North Branch Works members. And if you are a member, the company will provide you with discounted pricing.

To connect with SYNLawn, please contact Leo Alunan, Sales and Operations Manager, 773-857-5296 (Ext. 651), lalunan@synlawn.com

To request a free estimate, please go here.

Image credits: SYNLawn of Chicago

Salt District to add jobs & strengthen economic development along North Branch

Last week, the Chicago Plan Commission approved plans to redevelop the Morton Salt facility, sending them to the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards for the next review.

A well-known landmark on the North Side, Morton Salt has long occupied a 4.25-acre property located on the west bank of the Chicago River running south from Blackhawk Street on Elston Avenue.

Led by developers R2 Companies and Blue Star Properties, the project will turn the site into a mixed-use office, retail, and entertainment complex, including a community-based venue and events space that can accommodate up to 3,000 people as well as future uses such as a farmers’ market.

The so-called Salt District will add approximately 285 permanent jobs and 41,500 square feet in new office space that will attract new businesses to our service area.  Just as important, the project will support the Goose Island manufacturing district east of the property.

It’s a great example of a dynamic, adaptive reuse project that supports neighborhood jobs and wealth creation by converting a vacant riverfront property into a jobs center.

Morton Salt is expected to keep its research and development team on-site, moving into a newly renovated office of 20,000 square feet.

In our discussions with the developers, we’re pleased they have expressed interest in working with surrounding businesses to ensure a seamless transition into the neighborhood.

And the project will make it easier to get around the area by adding separate riverfront trails for people walking and biking. These paths will eventually connect to a new pedestrian bridge over the river at Blackhawk Street that’s in the North Branch Framework Plan.

The trails will also create easy access for people on foot and bike to the Wild Mile Chicago, a 17-acre floating park coming to the North Branch Canal. The paths at this development will over time connect to riverfront trails at Lincoln Yards that will run between North and Webster Avenues.

Getting to the Salt District on bike will be relatively easy thanks to the bike lanes on Elston Avenue. And if you’re coming from the west, you’ll be able to get within a quarter mile of it by using the 606/Bloomingdale trail.

The project will also add a water taxi stop and a boat launch.

Would you like to learn more about the Salt District and the progress of development projects along the North Branch? Join us for The State of Development along the North Branch on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. You can register at no cost here.

Image credit: R2 Companies

Rockwell on the River hosts Logan Square Farmers Market starting Dec. 13

In a major win for neighborhood economic development along the North Branch, the Logan Square Farmers Market will relocate for the winter to Rockwell on the River in Avondale, opening for business on Sunday, Dec. 13th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Farmers Market will operate from this location on Sundays until March 28, 2021 and follow strict COVID-19 protocols such as requiring masks and social distancing.

Rockwell on the River is located about a mile from Logan Square on Rockwell Street in between Belmont and Elston Avenues and accessible via the CTA #76 Diversey and CTA #77 Belmont buses.

Because Rockwell on the River generously provided two warehouses (3029 and 3031 N. Rockwell Street), you can take comfort knowing the space has over 17,000 square feet for vendors and customers to safely spread out.

And if you go, please keep in mind that the first hour (9-10 a.m.) is reserved for shoppers with high-risk.

North Branch Works is thrilled to welcome the Logan Square Farmers Market to our service area. It’s a great example of the opportunities we regularly identify and pursue for our business and nonprofit members and our work to promote spending at locally owned neighborhood businesses whenever possible.

In this case, we already happen to partner closely with the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce and Rockwell on the River, a dedicated North Branch Works member. Upon learning the Farmers Market needed a new space for the winter, we connected these two incredible organizations leading up to this exciting news.

We highly recommend visiting Rockwell on the River before and/or after going to the Farmers Market. A dynamic food and events destination, Rockwell on the River is home to many wonderful family-owned businesses such as Metropolitan Brewing, Metropolis Coffee, and Judson and Moore Distillery.

And by going for a short walk north on Rockwell Street, you can easily stop by businesses such as Guild Row Chicago, Bash Sports Academy, and the Alley Chicago. Please visit and support these businesses.

It’s exciting the Logan Square Farmers Market is coming to such a growing and thriving part of Avondale. We see this development as an incredible opportunity for existing businesses and the Logan Square Farmers Market to successfully grow their businesses.

And these types of partnerships support our vision for the North Branch of the Chicago River, which would bring many benefits to the city including thriving businesses, high-quality jobs, and sustainable economic development.