About two dozen West Side small businesses were recently named Chicago Community Development Grant recipients.
The 19 businesses in Austin, North Lawndale, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park received a total of $7.8 million in grants. The businesses ranged from restaurants to a media studio.
The West Side’s biggest awards went to Yellow Banana, a black-owned business seeking to open grocery stores on the South and West Sides, and Juan Teague of Batter and Berries. These companies each received approximately $1.9 million.
Building on Batter and Berries, 5924 W. Chicago Ave. in Austin, began in the spring of 2021, but the project was delayed due to cost and contractor misconduct.
Funding for the development grant is part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago stimulus plan, which helps fund small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.
Using a combination of local and federal funding sources, the $97 million in prizes were awarded to a total of 79 businesses across the city.
Front Porch Arts Center, 5508 W. Chicago Ave. in Austin, was also among the grant recipients. This organization was founded to bring more arts programming to the community.
“This support will help us provide more positive local recreation that will allow our organization to continue to use art as a healing tool that both addresses our traumas and helps our community thrive,” said Keli Stewart, Founder. and artistic director of the organization.
As a lifelong Austin resident, Steward said she’s proud to see the city make these types of significant financial investments in community projects.
“Neither in my grandparents’ generation nor in my parents’ generation did we witness this kind of necessary investment on the West Side,” Stewart said.
“My family immigrated from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1950s and opened businesses in Lawndale because they believed in their community,” she added. “I believe in my community, and as an Austin born and raised person, and current owner, I am grateful to receive an investment from the city.”
Urban Smoke LLC, a caterer at 6134-38 W. North Ave. in Austin, received $250,000. Founder Omar Bryant said the money will allow his company to finally serve customers in person.
“We are ready to serve our community with our tasty grilled and smoked meats,” said Bryant. “We have built a recognized reputation for the quality of our dishes and our service. Our storefronts have been vacant for over six years and now it will finally happen.
A list of West Side recipients is below. A full list of recipients can be found here.