Senator SimmonsCHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons announced the launch of the 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant with $2.5 million in funds available to assist small businesses located in the 7th District.

“Small business owners across the 7th District have frequently reached out to my office or stopped me in passing to talk about the pressures they face. My staff and I have seen a clear trend of small businesses closing unnecessarily or prematurely in business corridors across the district,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “This initiative is in direct response to what we’ve seen, and will provide a much needed boost to entrepreneurs and mom and pop small businesses across our district who are struggling.”

The 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant is intended to provide funds to small businesses who have missed out on previous funding opportunities, are in danger of closure, are facing financial hardship and identify as historically underserved. Simmons secured funding in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget to provide one-time, $10,000 micro-grants to qualified small businesses operating in brick and mortar sites within the 7th District.

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Caption: Senator Mike Simmons speaks with neigborhood business owners at 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant announcement.

"Across the city and country, small businesses are struggling to survive. We’re working hard to keep our businesses afloat, our staff well cared for, our communities engaged, our dreams alive. It’s challenging to compete with larger corporations that have more manpower, money, resources and buying power, but it’s also a part of business,” said Mia Sakai, owner of Ándale Market in Andersonville. “As little guys, we’re not looking for a handout, but simply to even the playing field. The creation of these grants will no doubt help numerous small businesses, like mine, that have faced a myriad of challenges since the pandemic.”

DMApothecary, a small business that features clean green beauty products in Rogers Park, recently endured multiple floods and a collapsed ceiling in the last 15 months.

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Caption: Senator Mike Simmons with 7th District small business owners at 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant announcement.

“This upset to our very small business has placed us in direct peril of potentially having to close completely,” said Deirdre Austin, owner of DMApothecary. “This grant provides hope that we will be able to continue servicing our community and also carry out our personal legacy as a family owned business.”

“The 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant is a timely investment in the community that will help stabilize many small businesses,” said Simmons. “I am proud to be able to provide this funding and want to thank each of the five chambers of commerce and the community-based organizations that are working closely with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to ensure this grant initiative assists those who need it most.”

The grant is provided in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and facilitated by five local organizations:

  • Andersonville Chamber of Commerce
  • Rogers Park Business Alliance
  • Edgewater Chamber of Commerce
  • Uptown United
  • Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce

“For 100 years, the Uptown Chamber of Commerce has provided its members with personalized service helping them address challenges they face. The last few years have been trying for our businesses – we see it with closures all along our corridors,”said Sarah Wilson, Executive Director of Uptown United & Uptown Chamber of Commerce. “Additional financial support is one of the most requested services we're asked to provide. We are thrilled to work with State Senator Mike Simmons, DCEO and our chamber colleagues in the 7th District to provide additional relief to our business neighbors.”

“Over the years businesses have faced many challenges. The shift in the restaurant industry since the pandemic lockdown, staff shortages and keeping up with the demands are some of the challenges we’ve faced,” said Almaz Yigizaw, owner and operator of Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant. “The grant will give us the chance to give back to our community who has supported us from the very beginning. This grant will offer us the chance to fully express the vision we’ve built for our restaurant, replenishing the spirit of the Ethiopian Diamond Restaurant.”

“As the son of two longtime small business owners, I am thrilled to launch this targeted and unprecedented assistance to the small businesses that are the hallmark of our district and its neighborhoods. Small businesses are really hurting right now from the lingering economic impact of the pandemic, inflation, neighborhood gentrification, rent increases, building sales, lack of credit, language barriers and other hardships,” said Simmons. “This grant will alleviate financial burdens so our small businesses can remain open, continue to grow, and continue to define and serve our communities.”

Applications for the 7th District Small Business Restoration Grant close Feb. 2, 2024 at 5 p.m. To apply or learn more about eligibility and application requirements, visit 7sbrg.org.

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