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Economic Development

Vibrant shopping areas keep money in the neighborhood while providing important goods and services to residents. LISC invests in neighborhood economic development strategies that support local jobs and entrepreneurship. LISC works with community partners to build commercial corridor staff capacity through its Business District Leadership program, improve infrastructure, and create activities that attract shoppers. It also provides financing for commercial real estate developments and to start or expand Special Service Areas.

Neighborhood commercial corridors can be sources of pride for residents and key focal points for visitors and shoppers. In addition to providing goods, services and jobs, strong commercial districts are places where residents meet and interact. Storefronts filled with thriving, engaged business owners can be great neighborhood assets, while empty or derelict stores can easily hamper community development plans.

Across Chicago, as in many cities, commercial district managers at various local chambers of commerce, community development corporations, and other organizations work hard to keep their corridors safe and strong. These neighborhood advocates connect local businesses to the larger economy and residents to new business opportunities.

LISC Chicago supports local organizations working to improve their commercial districts in three ways:


  • LISC supports local commercial district managers and related staff to build organizational capacity towards other sustainable funding sources such as Special Service Areas (SSAs).
  • LISC provides seed funding for small, strategic commercial district projects that can launch larger efforts.


  • For neighborhood organizations planning a new Special Service Area, LISC provides no-interest Project Initiation Loans (PILs) to cover startup costs.
  • LISC provides pre-development loans for mixed-use and other commercial and industrial projects crucial to a community development strategy.

LISC grants and loans are subject to availability. Here are the terms.

Network and Capacity Building

  • LISC convenes regular lunch roundtables for local commercial district managers from across Chicago to share ideas, discuss current trends and help each other identify solutions.
  • LISC staff and consultants assist neighborhoods within LISC Chicago’s network with advice and technical support for commercial district strategies and projects.

For more information on LISC Chicago’s commercial district development work, contact Dionne Baux or Jake Ament.

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Evelyn’s Food Love Uses LISC Small Business Loan to Bring Hip New Restaurant to Washington Park
Evelyn Shelton wanted to open a restaurant in Washington Park. A LISC Small Business loan helped her do it.
Neighborhood Group, CPD Awarded for Making Uptown's Argyle Street Pedestrian Friendly
The Night Market, a collaboration between Uptown United and the 20 th District of the Chicago Police Department, has brought new life to Uptown's Argyle Street.
Englewood Quality-of-Life Business Competition Announces Winners
Englewood companies vie for recognition - and cash - in the Englewood Quality-of-Life Business Competition.
Lending a Hand
It’s clearer than ever how loans from LISC play a critical role in redeveloping communities across the city.
Streets Cleaned, Vets Honored in Day of Service
On Veterans Day, volunteers rolled up their sleeves to clean vacant lots in Auburn Gresham.
This IS Englewood
New Whole Foods grocery a welcome tipping point for Englewood.
Business District Leadership Program Graduates New Cohort
A new Business District Leadership class hits the streets.
Business District Leadership Program Begins Second Class with 20 New Neighborhood Participants
After a successful first year, the Business District Leadership program will support a second group of nonprofit and public sector leaders working within neighborhood business districts.
Applications For Next Business District Leadership Program Class Extended Through Jan. 2, 2016
The deadline for applying to the next class of LISC Chicago's Business District Leadership program has been extended to January 2, 2016.
BDL Grads Put Theories to Test
BDL grads display "neighborhood change" projects and reflect on their experiences together. Applications for the next leadership class are being accepted through December 11.
New Class of LISC AmeriCorps Service Begins
The 21st class of LISC AmeriCorps members has begun working with Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) across Chicago.
Booming Bronzeville: QCDC Helped Create a “Good Problem” and Works on Even Better Solutions.
There's a point when community-based developers shift from chasing any kind of investment to cultivating those that best meet the needs of local residents. That's happening in Bronzeville now.
Inaugural Class of Business District Leaders Graduates
The first commercial district managers to complete LISC Chicago’s Business District Leadership (BDL) program recently graduated.
93% off! LISC Hopes Deep Divvy Discount Leads to Much More
Through Chicago’s new Divvy for Everyone (D4E) program, eligible riders can join Divvy for just $5 by signing up at one of five neighborhood Financial Opportunity Centers.
Dutch Treat: Royals Salute Pullman’s Past and Future
Pullman, the historic Far South Side neighborhood that once produced railway sleeping cars, has reinvented itself as a place to host new manufacturers such as Method soap.
Major Milestone: $40 Million for Chicago Community Development
LISC Chicago completes $40 million fundraising goal. Celebration ensues.
When Big Plans Have Big Impact
As the private sector soars and the public sector shrinks, flexibility and nimbleness rule the day for neighborhood developers.
Business District Managers Hit Streets
LISC Chicago's Business District Leadership program participants recently hit the streets in Wicker Park to see what consititutes a successful commercial corridor.
Near North Has a Plan of Its Own, Thank You
Plans issued from on-high have shaped, and mis-shaped, Chicago’s Near North neighborhood for over a half century. But now there’s a new plan, one guided by folks who actually live there.
Listen Up! Youth Speaks at CNDA on Feb. 17
The 21st Annual Chicago Neighborhoods Award Ceremony is February 17, 2015 at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 S. Michigan Ave.
LISC Chicago Business District Leadership Program
BLD brings together nonprofit and public sector leaders for training, education and capacity building for the growing number of organizations that serve business districts throughout Chicago.
At City Club, Vasquez Calls for ‘New Vision’
In an October 16 address to a sold-out crowd, LISC Chicago’s executive director talked about the need for “civic infrastructure” to build stronger neighborhoods.
Businesses Reap Dividends of 'Special' Tax Zone
Around the city, LISC is helping communities establish and run Special Service Areas to cover the costs of security, beautification and special events for local small businesses.
Trainings Help Business Owners Up Their Game
Graduates of an entrepreneurship program in Pilsen learn from experts and put lessons to work in their stores, restaurants and other local businesses.
10 Earn Awards at 20th Anniversary CNDA
The Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards celebrate excellent architecture, real estate development, and personal achievement. Here are the 2014 winners.

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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