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Catalyst funds to offer relief to Chicago businesses and employees

City of Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin last week announced that she and Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot are offering a new Emergency Loan Program to lessen the financial challenge faced by small businesses and their employees, particularly in the city’s most vulnerable communities.

The loans will be provided using up to $50 million of the Chicago Community Catalyst Fund, which is authorized to make loans targeted to small businesses operating or serving historically under-resourced communities.

“It’s essential that we provide some relief for the businesses and working families, especially ones in the under-resourced and disinvested communities that are hurting right now,” said Treasurer Conyears-Ervin. “We must do everything possible to make sure people stay safe, afford to stay in their homes and feed their families,” added Conyears- Ervin.

Treasurer Conyears-Ervin explained the loans will be made not directly by the Fund but through four intermediary, certified Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) that are well-versed in small business lending and Chicago’s neighborhood needs. These are Accion, Chicago Community Loan Fund, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation /Chicago.

Treasurer Conyears-Ervin said loan applications are now being accepted and will be processed as soon as possible. She added the loan program is intended for businesses that keep employees on the payroll and have seen a decline in revenues. She added that small businesses with fewer than 50 employees could be eligible for an interest-free loan of up to $50,000 for six-months, with a below market interest rate for the remainder of the repayment term. Businesses interested in applying for a loan or for more information, should visit

The four CDFI lenders welcomed the news: “All of us serve small businesses in communities that have trouble getting conventional loans even during boom times, so in the midst of this unprecedented situation, the loans will be more important than ever.”

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