Chicago from North
Chicago from NorthPhoto credit: Christina Winter/Unsplash

City of Chicago provides $5 million worth of grants to businesses and entrepreneurs

As U.S. cities show resilience in economic recovery efforts for local businesses, Chicago opens its Community Development Grant applications.


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Citizens of Chicago who own a business or plan to start one can now apply for a COVID-19 economic recovery grant of $250,000 or $5 million.

The Chicago Recovery Plan community development grants are being offered to all small businesses, entrepreneurs, and developers in the city seeking financial support.

Grants will be provided by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) from a pool of up to $1.2 billion. 

Chicago businesses may use the grants for retail upgrades, building expansions, and projects with additional public amenities. First-round applications will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2022.

Applicants must meet one of the following requirements to be approved for a small or large project grant. Here are the standards released by the city:

  • Businesses or projects in historically underserved areas in Chicago. 
  • Projects with a strong local impact.
  • Plans that create more jobs and services.


Businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods are given priority acceptance, as part of Chicago’s efforts to equitably improve Black and Latino communities.

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot on Dec. 23, 2021, shared her vision for the Chicago Recovery Plan. She believes the grants are grassroots investments that will help communities thrive.

“These grants will provide much-needed support to existing and new businesses, spurring economic activity across our city in tandem with our continued investments through initiatives like INVEST South/West,” said Lightfoot in a statement.

Chicago’s grants can be expected to cover up to 75% of total project costs. 

Businesses will also have three opportunities to apply for economic recovery. The second-round applications will open on March 10, 2022.

Economic Growth

U.S. cities continued to see promising economic recovery all throughout 2021. Businesses and projects began to return to semi-normal operations after COVID-19 lockdowns were lifted.

A report by Stessa found that the nation’s economy suffered a record GDP drop of 31.4% in 2020. The GDP rate in 2021 only fell to 9%, reflecting lower unemployment claims and resumed spending from consumers.

In Stessa’s research, cities were ranked from large, middle, to small metro areas with the most or least economic growth in 2021.

Chart created by Stessa, a roofstock company.

For Chicago, the city was ranked 49th compared to large metro areas, and 155th compared to all cities in the U.S.

Philadelphia was not too far ahead of Chicago ranking at 46th among large cities, and 140th compared to all U.S. cities.

As more regions like Chicago seek to support its local businesses financially, the U.S. may just see a quick economic turnaround from cities who follow their steps.



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