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$100K Grants Help 32 Business Grow In 'Challenged' Neighborhoods

By Heather Cherone | June 8, 2017 12:21pm | Updated on June 8, 2017 4:40pm
 Brown Sugar Bakery is receiving a grant to open a location on the West Side.
Brown Sugar Bakery is receiving a grant to open a location on the West Side.  
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LAWNDALE — Thirty-two businesses will each get $100,000 grants from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which is designed to leverage the Downtown development boom and spur economic growth on the South and West sides.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the first round of grants are designed to "ensure the entire city of Chicago thrives for generations to come."

"These investments are going to directly support neighborhood entrepreneurs on Chicago’s South, Southwest and West sides," Emanuel said. "But they will also expand quality food options, create neighborhood meeting places, support tech business growth, and generate new retail options."

The winning projects include:

• Build-out of Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream at 56 E. 47th St. in Bronzeville

• Expansion of Garifuna Flava Caribbean restaurant at 2516 W. 63rd St. in Chicago Lawn

• Purchase and rehab of Original Soul Vegetarian restaurant at 203 E. 75th St. in Grand Crossing

• Renovation of the family-owned grocery store Carniceria La Hacienda at 5159 S. Kedzie Ave., in Gage Park

• Purchase, rehab and expansion of Ambassador Floral at 11045 S. Halsted St. in Roseland

• Renovation of theater at the West Austin Development Center at 4920 W. Madison St. in Austin

• Establishment of a second location for Brown Sugar Bakery at 4800 W. Chicago Ave. in Austin

• Purchase and buildout of a second location for Ivory Dental at 8344 S. Halsted St. in Auburn Gresham

• Establishment of a new office for media-tech marketing company Digital Factory Technologies at 7400 S. Stony Island Ave. in South Shore

The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund was created in May 2016 to charge developers additional fees in return for allowing them to build bigger and taller buildings Downtown. About a dozen developments have already paid into the fund.

Seven hundred businesses applied for the grants, which will cover as much as 65 percent of a project's costs, according to the Mayor's Office.

The projects must be located in areas identified by the Census Bureau as the home of low-to-moderate income residents. Priority will be given to projects that bring new stores to struggling commercial corridors, grocery stores to areas defined as food deserts, and cultural establishments in areas where there are none.

Grants of more than $250,000 must be approved by the City Council.

NOF MAP by Heather Cherone on Scribd