Plant Chicago is a non-profit that encourages the growth neighborhood-based start-up businesses and which promotes what it calls a circular economy. It promotes a community-wide adoption of business models designed to recycle and reuse materials, money, expertise and more. Initially headquartered in a century-old warehouse in Back of the Yards, Plant Chicago has relocated to what was a vacant firehouse at 45th and Marshfield. Its indoor farmers markets are possibly its best-known and most popular events. The next market is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 at its headquarters. For details, visit plantchicago.org. --Supplied photo

Plant Chicago is a non-profit that encourages the growth neighborhood-based start-up businesses and which promotes what it calls a circular economy. It promotes a community-wide adoption of business models designed to recycle and reuse materials, money, expertise and more. Initially headquartered in a century-old warehouse in Back of the Yards, Plant Chicago has relocated to what was a vacant firehouse at 45th and Marshfield. Its indoor farmers markets are possibly its best-known and most popular events. The next market is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 at its headquarters. For details, visit plantchicago.org. --Supplied photo

Funds flow to Back of the Yards

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Four groups get grants; millions more available 

By Tim Hadac

Four organizations in Back of the Yards—three businesses and a non-profit—are among 31 awarded more than $14.4 million in small business grants being allocated through the Chicago Recovery Plan.

They are:

  • Diaz Group Office Space, 5100 S. Damen, $250,000.
  • El Nuevo Guadalajara, 4350 S. Ashland, $50,325.
  • Gomez Tires & Wheels, 1934 W. 51st St., $54,725.
  • Plant Chicago, 4459 S. Marshfield, $575,000.

“Over the years, the City’s grant programs have given Chicago’s homegrown entrepreneurs and businesses the resources they need to thrive and serve their communities,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in making the announcement. “I am proud to continue this work into 2022 with the announcement of a new cohort of grant finalists, who will undoubtedly bring meaningful, long-lasting change to the neighborhoods they reside and work in. My team and I want to extend a hearty congratulations to each of the finalists and look forward to seeing how they use their grants to grow and enhance their businesses.”

GSWNH PlantChicagoMarket 012822

Plant Chicago is a non-profit that encourages the growth neighborhood-based start-up businesses and which promotes what it calls a circular economy. It promotes a community-wide adoption of business models designed to recycle and reuse materials, money, expertise and more. Initially headquartered in a century-old warehouse in Back of the Yards, Plant Chicago has relocated to what was a vacant firehouse at 45th and Marshfield. Its indoor farmers markets are possibly its best-known and most popular events. The next market is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 at its headquarters. For details, visit plantchicago.org. –Supplied photo

Exactly what those four organizations will do with the funds and when was not outlined by city officials. Instead, they referred reporters to a website that ends with a description of last year’s awards.

Preliminary grant amounts range from $24,090 to $2.5 million and will be used to finance workplace improvements involving interior build-outs, exterior renovations, energy efficiency enhancements, and other upgrades valued at more than $22.3 million in total costs.

The projects were selected from more than 180 proposals submitted during an open application period last year. Finalists were determined by a City of Chicago evaluation committee based on project readiness, viability, location, applicant experience, neighborhood needs, and other factors.

Fourteen of the 31 projects are food-related, 10 provide community or personal services, three are retail-oriented, three have mixed uses, and one is a cultural entity. More than half of the awardees are located in community areas prioritized by Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West neighborhood revitalization initiative.

“These grants are specifically intended to help businesses meet their goals for growth while also supporting the recovery of neighborhood retail corridors with active and engaging uses,” Third Ward Ald. Pat Dowell said.

“From restaurants to retail, these projects are what Chicago needs to keep moving forward,” 24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott Jr. said. “Financial support from the City will help ensure their success benefits residents in my community and others like it.”

The grants are being allocated through the City’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and other Chicago Recovery Plan funding sources. Administered by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the NOF program allocates voluntary fees paid by downtown construction projects to foster economic development along key West, Southwest and South side commercial corridors. Created in 2016, the program has selected more than 275 grant projects to date. Grant amounts for selected projects are subject to change as plans are finalized, and potential bonuses for local hiring and other factors are determined.

Recipients of grants of $250,000 or less will have access to pre-qualified design, subcontracting and financing specialists that help with business plans and work scopes. For grants more than $250,000, a new application process enables streamlined access to multiple City funding sources.

Lightfoot’s Chicago Recovery Plan is a $1.2 billion strategy for what she calls “equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that supports thriving and safe communities.”

The Chicago Recovery Plan anticipates three community development grant application rounds in 2022, with application deadlines of Monday, Jan. 31, Thursday, March 10, and a third date to be determined this summer. For additional application details, including a recent informational webinar about the key grant program, visit Chicago.gov/ChiRecoveryGrant.

Though just four Southwest Side organizations received funds in the current round, funding is available to all our parts of several Southwest Side neighborhoods, including Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Gage Park and Chicago Lawn.

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