The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which was created in 2016, has given out grants to 32 organizations on Chicago’s South and West Sides to spur development in their neighborhoods, according to DNAinfo.
More than 700 businesses applied for the $100,000 grants, which will fund projects involving several restaurants, an ice cream shop, a bakery, a florist, a theater, a dentist’s office, and a marketing company. The projects include renovations, expansions, and second locations.
Neighborhoods the grants will reach include:
The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund is created by developer fees. Developers aiming to build more expansive projects in Chicago’s downtown area pay fees, which in turn are used by the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund to support development and growth on the South and West Sides.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has faced criticism for focusing development on downtown, while neglecting the city’s neighborhoods, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Many see the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund as a way to combat that critique. Others, among them many Chicago aldermen, have accused the fund as being politically influenced.
The grants will focus first on projects that will bring cultural institutions to underserved areas, grocery stores to food deserts, and stores to commercially struggling areas, according to DNAinfo.