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City Announces $2.7 Million COVID-19 Small Business Support Program Engaging Nonprofits To Help Chicago Businesses That Have Been Suffering

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection announced a new grant program this week to allow nonprofits to help small businesses that have been suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $2.7 million COVID-19 Small Business Support Program announced Monday awarded funding to 41 nonprofit organizations that will help business owners and entrepreneurs with targeted assistance, training, and resources to help with common problems brought on by the pandemic.

"The CSBS program will help to further advance our city's business recovery efforts," Mayor Lightfoot said in a news release. "It also provides an important opportunity to lay the foundation for an enduring, equitable and inclusive economy. I am grateful to BACP and its partners for bringing this program to life, which truly serves as the next step in our ongoing commitment to revitalizing our businesses and empowering the communities they serve."

The program will fund a variety of different initiatives – including free advising, coach, and language access; campaigns to encourage Chicago residents and visitors to support local businesses; and support for outdoor activities and plazas.

"By collaborating with community business organizations and advocates of Chicago's small business community, the impact of our recovery will be greater," BACP Acting Commissioner Kenneth J. Meyer said in the release. "Together, our city will become stronger and more resilient than ever before."

One marketing initiative set up through the program is planned for Rogers Park between Saturday, Nov. 27 and Friday, Dec. 31. The "Live Love Shop Rogers Park" Program will also allow patrons to get a $50 rebate if they collect more than $150 to $200 in receipts from four independently-owned Rogers Park businesses, and a $75 rebate if they collect $200 or more in receipts.

A decal for the initiative will be placed in the windows of participating businesses.

"We are excited to be part of the program that encourages small business recovery through unique programs," Sandi Price, Executive Director of Rogers Park Business Alliance, said in the release. "The Live Love Shop Rogers Park campaign will be visibly seen in our community and across Chicago. We look forward to reactivating commercial corridors through a campaign that draws customers back to shopping and dining at our small, independently owned businesses."

"The pandemic took a devastating toll on Chicago's arts and culture community," said Scott Holtz, General Manager of The New 400 Theaters on Sheridan Road in Rogers Park. "But this year and moving forward, I have faith in our recovery and in the collaboration with my local business service organization. The kickoff campaign to the holiday season will be in front of the theater and it's this type of collaboration the COVID-19 Small Business Support Program is meant to create."

A total of 57 COVID-19 Small Business Support programs will be set up throughout the city. In addition to Rogers Park, programs are also planned for downtown, Little Village, Chatham and Garfield Park, among other communities.

"This program is an opportunity to expand our current outreach efforts to deliver much-needed impact on Chicago's West Side," Ed Coleman, President and Chief Executive Officer of West Side Forward, said in the release. "We will be able to even more effectively advise and inform small businesses of available financial relief programs and other services to support their recovery from the economic toll of the pandemic. With increased one-on-one support from our team, business owners in West Side communities will receive the guidance they need to confidently and successfully manage their business."

The program builds on prior investments in small business recovery, including $22 million in financial relief for businesses through the Chi Biz Strong grant, and Outdoor Dining Grant programs.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We'll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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