Above: The Little Village arch on Feb. 19, 2021. Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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LITTLE VILLAGE — A micro-grant program is helping businesses in Little Village struggling from the pandemic.
The Little Village Community Foundation’s Road to Recovery program, funded by the McCormick Foundation, is providing $1,000-$3,000 to businesses in the Southwest Side neighborhood, foundation Director Kim Close said.
Interested businesses can learn more about the Road to Recovery program online or by texting “BECA” to 833-480-0339.
“A lot of businesses need this type of assistance,” Close said. “They’ve been applying for grants and loans and they haven’t received anything.”
The grant has helped struggling businesses with rent, payroll and creating websites. Each recipient is paired with technical assistance to help business owners assess finances and offer solutions for them to grow and sustain themselves, Close said.
Among their efforts, the foundation is targeting businesses at the Discount Mall.
The impetus for the program came after the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans largely left out businesses from Little Village’s commercial corridors, Close said. Many business owners have expressed frustration with navigating federal and state assistance applications, she said.
Since launching last fall, the foundation has distributed $301,000 in grants to 108 businesses in the neighborhood. It is accepting applications for another $300,000 in grants.
Close said the programs aim to revitalize the commercial corridors while “preserving the existing businesses and cultural identity of the neighborhood.”
“We are aware that $3,000 is not going to fix the economy, but we can work to attract in resources, programing and do assessments to better understand the challenges our businesses face and create solutions around that,” Close said.