Small Business Improvement Fund Resource Page

Originally published: September 29, 2011
Updated: April 23, 2012

The City of Chicago’s SBIF (Small Business Improvement Fund) is a program which reimburses recipients for eligible improvements to buildings.  As of September 2011, the SBIF program has funded over $28 million in grants to over 600 applicants since the year 2000 . The SBIF is funded by TIF revenues.  A portion of the TIF fund is used for grants awarded to small businesses and property owners.   The grants reimburse applicants up to $150,000 of eligible costs for repair work and property improvements. Business and property owners can apply for SBIF grants if they are in SBIF districts.  As of September 2011, SBIF districts are established in 73 of the City’s 166 TIF districts, as shown here on  a map of TIF districts with active SBIF programs. A SBIF grant is for capital improvements to a property made by a business owner or property owner.  The improvements can be anything that becomes “real property,” meaning that it has to be built in, and of a permanent nature.  Recipients have used SBIF grants for new windows, electrical and plumbing systems, roofing, and awnings.   The program can cover all of the direct work as well as some of the “soft costs”, such as architectural or design work.  Access the SBIF grant database on the City’s Data Portal for a sortable list of grant recipients, grant amounts and property improvements. The SBIF grants are not fronted costs.  They are reimbursements for 25-75% of the total eligible project costs, not to exceed $100,000 per applicant, with the opportunity to reapply after three years. The reimbursement rate is determined based on the type of applicant (e.g., landlord) and qualifying metrics such as net worth or annual sales.  Owner-occupied applicants are reimbursed on the lower rate of either the landlord or tenant restriction.  Industrial applicants are reimbursed on a flat 50% provided the company employs less than 100 employees.  The table below summarizes the reimbursement rates.


Reimbursement Rate

Applicant (metric)





Landlord (net worth)

≤ $2.5 million

≤ $4.5 million

≤ $6 million

> $6 million

Tenant (sales)

≤ $1 million

≤ $2 million

≤ $3 million

> $3 million

Owner-Occupied (mix)

lesser of landlord or tenant restriction

Industrial (employees)

50% reimbursement rate for applicants with less than 100 employees

Each TIF has limited funds reserved for the SBIF program. If demand for the SBIF funds is greater than the funds available, a lottery is conducted. If any surplus funds become available, they are allocated to waitlisted applicants. Lotteries take place at City Hall and are open to the public. SBIF is administered by SomerCor 504, a non-profit development firm that assists small businesses with financing.   SomerCor accepts and reviews all grant applications, and monitors recipients’ compliance with grant terms.  For additional information, visit SomerCor’s website, which provides a SBIF program overview, a FAQ page, applications and a PDF report on past grantees. If you have ideas about other information regarding SBIF that you believe the City should make public or have any other comments, suggestions, or corrections,  email them to or submit them via our online suggestion box.

Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) Recipients thru August 2011

The City of Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) is a program which reimburses recipients for eligible improvements to buildings. Since 2000, the SBIF program has funded over $28 million in grants to over 600 applicants. SBIF is funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues and administered by SomerCor 504, a non-profit development firm. SBIF … [Read More…]