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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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CNDA at 20: Much More Than Buildings
Energy and inspiration flow from annual awards ceremony that draws from across Chicago’s community development world.
LISC Expands Toolbox for Digital Learning
More than $1.1 million invested by LISC for expanded trainings and digital resources, helping neighborhoods connect to portals, EveryBlock, open data and more.
Neighborhoods Apply 'Civic Tech' for Local Gains
Tech efforts are popping up all across LISC’s neighborhood network as community groups take small but important steps into the high-tech world.
AmeriCorps and Social Innovation Fund Are 'Impact' Players
AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund - making a difference in people's lives.
Buying In to SSAs
Special Service Areas can be a tough sell, but the districts LISC helps create have proven a welcome boost to local business strips.
Note to Small Biz: Loans Are Available
There’s good news for Mom and Pop corner stores, auto repair shops and your neighborhood taqueria. More loan options are available for small businesses than most realize.
Quad at 10, Looking Forward and Back
Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC), which has played a major role reshaping the Mid South Side, is celebrating its 10 anniversary this week.
Crowdfunding for Community Development? Yes Indeed
World Business Chicago is excited about the potential of the Kickstarter website to “catalyze reinvestment, grow small businesses and spur employment growth.”
Manufacturing Skills Go Regional ... and Personal
Jane Addams Resource Corp. trains Chicago’s unemployed for careers in the region’s promising “advanced” factory sector
Southwest Side Purchase Pool Drives Quantity Discounts
Businesses in Chicago Lawn and West Lawn have formed a pool to purchase basic services that’s saving them thousands of dollars and reaping a small profit for Greater Southwest Development…
Training Program Reweaves the Fabric for Small Businesses
Goldman Sachs Small Businesses program, administered through the City Colleges of Chicago, provides new knowledge, advice that can lead to greater success for owners like Richard and Susan Schneider…
New South Side Plan: From Vacant Land to “Productive Landscapes”
Citizens, planners across eight communities envision community gardens, "pocket" parks, 30-block hiking trail and other features in neighborhoods with vacant land and few signs of major development.
Setting Anchors in Pullman, Roseland
Super Walmart, Kroc Community Center and restored historic district redefine South Side neighborhoods
Strategizing to Fight Crime
Community developers and community organizers often can do more than they realize, say speakers at LISC Chicago Commercial Corridor Brown Bag Luncheon.
Garfield Council Aims for Safer Kedzie
Testing the model: transit-oriented development only works where shoppers feel secure
Groupon, Community Developers, Seek Common Ground
Groupon, the online daily deal purveyor, is itching to expand its relationship with businesses throughout Chicago. At LISC Chicago, Groupon representatives recently met with economic development…
At Last, Bronzeville’s 'Alleluia'
Study in perseverance: Quad Communities’ seven-year struggle brings retail back to a key corner of Chicago’s South Side
Treasury Official: Chicago “At Forefront” of Development Efforts
Senior federal appointee says LISC-supported projects like Rosa Parks Apartments, Green Exchange showcase what's gained by maintaining federal funding for community development.
The LEED Council: Three Decades of Industrial Preservation
The LEED Council has helped keep industry thriving, spurred small business and sustainable development, and provided skills training and job placement programs that have armed hundreds of workers…
Residents, Businesses Get Scoop on Community Web Portals
Through its Smart Communities Program, LISC Chicago has helped to establish five neighborhood portal websites, which enable neighborhood businesses, organizations and residents to start spreadin' the…
Green Exchange Gets it Right
From early grassroots support to high-tech innovation, LISC Chicago helped put together a national model for local economic revival
Little Village Businesses Hang Tough in Tight Economy
The 26th Street corridor has not been immune to hard times, but residents and businesses are planning for a prosperous future.
Neighborhood Leaders Hone Communications, Business Skills
Running a small business is tough enough when economic times are good. When they’re bad, as in recent years, they’re exponentially harder. But help’s on the way. Earlier this…
Inside the i-cluster
Manufacturers profit from proximity … especially when they’re trading valuable information
Connecting the Dots: How Community Planning and Organizing Gave New Life to an Old Factory
The Green Exchange, on West Diversey Avenue, is a classic example of how community planning and organizing determined the best use for a former lamp factory on West Diversey Avenue - even when…

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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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