Avery and Pryor Construction, DLV Printing Service, L. May Creations and T&C Fitness Club will be receiving grants from the Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.
A total of $5.4 million will be distributed to 32 businesses across the city to support commercial corridors in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods. Business and property owners may apply for grant funding “to pay for the construction or rehabilitation of real estate and projects that support new or expanding businesses or cultural assets.”
The four Austin businesses are being awarded a total of $717,320.
The opportunity fund was started in 2016 under Mayor Rahm Emanuel to encourage development in specific economic and priority areas on the West, Southwest and South Sides.
DLV Printing Service, 5825 W. Corcoran Place, will be receiving $67,320. They will be using the money to make upgrades to their building.
“We have an area here that is basically in the raw in the back, so we’re going to renovate it and make it useful space now,” President and co-founder Vernita Johnson said.
Johnson said DLV – which shut down March 17 due to the pandemic and reopened May 18 – had to make a shift away from their usual projects, such as T-shirts for family gatherings and baseball team uniforms, to banners.
Everyone needs “banners to say we’re open now and (have) curbside pickup; we just switched over,” she said. DLV also received a $10,000 grant from West Side United to buy a machine to make banners.
Latrusia May, the owner of private event space L. May Creations, 5936 W. Chicago Ave., plans to open an upscale soul food restaurant next door to L. May Creations, along the Soul City Corridor. May said she has a name for the restaurant but is keeping it under wraps.
L. May Creations – which was awarded $250,000 to develop the building that will house the restaurant – has been closed during the pandemic. But thanks to her building’s large patio, May said she should be able to start doing events again in the next week.
The only other aid she applied for during the pandemic was a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but May said she “wasn’t able to get that for some reason.”
Malcolm Crawford, executive director for the Austin African American Business Association, noted in May that only a few businesses that are part of AAABNA were able to get loans through the PPP. Latrusia May is a member of AAABNA’s board.
Cornelius Coe and Katrina Ferrell are opening T&C Fitness Club at 5906-10 W. Chicago Ave.
They were awarded $150,000 to acquire the building and renovate it into an “updated and modern version of a good fitness center where our hard-working community people and youth can be able to go and utilize,” Coe said.
He envisions a small version of an XSport or LA Fitness with up-to-date treadmills and equipment, as well as a small sauna and showers.
Coe’s smoothie business, C2 Smoothies, would also be incorporated into the gym.
Businesses are required to finalize plans and construction budgets and get contractor bids before the city disperses their funds.
A complete list of all 32 of this year’s awardees, as well as those who received funding in past years, is available here: https://neighborhoodopportunityfund.com/awardees/.