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$2.5 Million Up For Grabs In City Push To Invest In South, West Sides

 The funds — generated by the building boom Downtown — are up for grabs until Dec. 22.
The funds — generated by the building boom Downtown — are up for grabs until Dec. 22.
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CHICAGO — Businesses on the South, Southwest and West sides looking for a boost can apply for a city grant funded by fees paid by Downtown developers, officials said.

Applications for the second round of grants — which will total $2.5 million — from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund are due Dec. 22, officials said.

"This second round of investments will support even more neighborhood entrepreneurs on Chicago's South, Southwest and West sides," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "By linking growth downtown directly to growth in our neighborhoods we can create jobs and new community amenities and ensure the entire city of Chicago thrives for generations to come."

The fund was created in May 2016 by charging developers additional fees in return for allowing them to build bigger and taller buildings Downtown. More than a dozen developments have already paid into the fund.

The grants will cover as much as 65 percent of a project's costs, officials said.

The projects must be 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, officials said.

In June, the city awarded $3.2 million to 32 businesses in the first round of grants. Approximately 700 businesses applied for the grant, officials said.

Applications are available at neighborhoodopportunityfund.com.

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