CategoriesIHCC News

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced that over $11 million has been awarded in grants to nearly 1,100 Chicago bars, restaurants and performance venues through two critical relief programs.

The Chicago Hospitality Grant Program has awarded grants of $10,000 to 995 independent bars and restaurants while 100 performing arts venues have been awarded grants of at least $10,000 through the Performance Venue Relief Program.

Grants from both programs, which are being awarded this week, will provide much-needed emergency relief to businesses that have been greatly impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially following recent state-wide mitigation measures that have closed indoor service and performances.

These emergency funds demonstrate Chicago Mayor’s Office commitment to doing everything in their power to supplement state and federal programs and help our businesses survive this difficult time,” said Jaime di Paulo, President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC).

Designed to supplement state and federal programs, the Chicago Hospitality Grant Program, administered by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), was announced on Nov. 5 and open for applications from Nov. 10 through Nov. 24.

Bars or restaurants with annual revenue of under $3 million were eligible to apply, provided that they were not regional and/or national chain businesses with more than two total establishments or adult entertainment facilities.

To help businesses understand the program and prepare their applications, the City held eight webinars during the application period in English and Spanish. Recipients were selected via a lottery and all applicants were notified this week.

Chicago’s businesses have stepped up throughout this crisis to do what is necessary to save lives,” said Rosa Escareno, BACP Commissioner. “Our hospitality industry has been decimated by COVID-19, and we hope that these grants will help many of the independent bars and restaurants that are in desperate need of support.”

The Chicago Hospitality Grant Program was administered with the support of World Business Chicago and Accion Chicago and funded through a reallocation of CARES Act funds from the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund.

This reallocation was made to ensure that businesses most impacted by the recent state-imposed mitigation measures would have access to emergency grant funds at this critical time.

Grants were awarded across the city with an eye towards equitable distribution – while community areas with more hospitality businesses such as West Town, Lake View and the Loop received the highest number of grants, over 36% of grants were awarded to businesses in low- and moderate-income community areas.

Over 59% of grant recipients are minority-owned businesses, and 36% of businesses are women-owned. The $10,000 grants must be used to cover operational costs including payroll expenses, replenishment of inventory and/or mortgage, rent and utility payments.

“Small, independent restaurants like ours are such an important part of Chicago’s rich neighborhoods,” said Alfonso Sotelo, owner of 5 Rabanitos in Pilsen. “While we look forward to returning to normal in the future, this grant means we can continue serving our community over the coming months.”

The Performing Arts Venue Relief Program, administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) was created to help performing arts venues that have lost significant revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Announced on Oct. 2, the program had two application periods and the latest group of awardees are being notified this week.

These two programs, along with all other business grants and loan programs implemented by the City during COVID-19, would not have been possible without the support of Accion Chicago.

The IHCC is proud to have played a role in connecting businesses to emergency financing throughout this crisis and we thank Mayor Lightfoot for her leadership in delivering these critical funds.   

The Chicago Hospitality Grant Program is part of an emergency hospitality relief package announced by Mayor Lightfoot on Nov 5. In addition to the $10 million in grants, Mayor Lightfoot has worked with City Council to implement a temporary 15% cap on fees charged by third-party delivery companies to restaurants, effective Nov. 23.

The City has also created the Take Out Chicago challenge and partnered with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to create the portal for hospitality workers impacted by COVID-19 to access workforce development support resources.

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