SBIF Grant Eligibility

Business Requirements

  • Location: Business property must be located in an eligible SBIF Tax Increment Finance District (TIF).
  • Industrial: Two hundred (200) or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
  • Commercial: Gross sales under $9,000,000 annually for the prior three (3) years, on average. (Certain business types and organizations are not eligible – please see below for more information.)
  • Property Owner/Landlord: Maximum net worth of $9,000,000 with a maximum of $500,000 in liquid assets (excluding industrial applicants who solely occupy their properties). PLEASE NOTE: These requirements are not exhaustive.

Grant Use

ELIGIBLE expenses for a SBIF grant are permanent building improvement costs associated with commercial and industrial properties, including, but not limited to:

  • Mechanical/heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (“HVAC”), electrical, and plumbing
  • Tuck pointing and masonry repairs; façade repair/improvement projects
  • Storefront renovations (new storefront frames, windows, and doors; exterior accent lighting affixed to the building)
  • Roof repair and replacement
  • Interior remodeling and renovation that is significant in nature. (that is, it is done in connection with a larger project that involves HVAC, electrical, or plumbing improvements): framing, drywall, interior doors, restroom renovations, flooring, ceilings (expenses related to a standalone cosmetic upgrade project such as new painting and new flooring not done in connection with other significant work are not eligible; “high-end”/custom fixture and/or finish expenses are not eligible)
  • Improvements to accommodate disabled patrons or workers
  • Rehabilitation of vacant buildings. Please note that SBIF grants will not paid until the improved property is occupied by an eligible small business tenant or tenants
  • Purchase of adjacent property for purposes of business expansion or parking. The applicant must operate an eligible small business and own the directly adjacent property on which the eligible business operates
  • Structural components of new signage (business-specific parts of signage are not eligible); sign removal
  • Certain landscaping improvements to the public way (exterior private property landscaping is not eligible)

INELIGIBLE expenses for a SBIF grant are costs associated with the following work, including, but not strictly limited to:

  • Any work started or construction costs that are incurred (even if work has not started) before approval of a conditional commitment letter by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development; projects completed outside of the formal grant process (“retroactive” projects)
  • Any work related to non-mixed-use residential property (single-family home, two-flat, three-flat, etc.)
  • Work undertaken to address conditions relating to chronic building code non-compliance pursuant to a court order or injunction
  • Improvements to residential components of a mixed-use building (interiors, building systems, porches, stairways, windows, etc.)
  • New construction (“ground-up” construction of a new building, vertical additions to existing buildings, expansion of an existing building’s envelope/footprint)
  • Work to a building that was originally constructed fewer than three (3) years before the application date
  • Exterior private property improvements (landscaping, parking lot work, perimeter fencing, gazebos, patios, etc.)
  • Business-specific components of new signage
  • Equipment or furniture
  • Work to buildings occupied by or leased to certain business types or organizations (night clubs, liquor stores, currency exchanges, pawn shops, national chain businesses, religious worship space, and others).
  • Standalone cosmetic upgrade projects such as new painting and new flooring not done in connection with other significant work; minor/routine maintenance items

If you are not sure if the work you are considering will qualify, please contact us and ask: You can also review the SBIF program rules here.