The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had severe impact on small businesses across the nation, in Chicago and the Northalsted neighborhood. Government aid and public support has helped keep the economy afloat while we continue to abide by safety measures and keep our community well.
Following business closures last March and the gradual reopening plans through the year, the Northalsted area’s SSA #18 Commission approved 7 emergency grant programs to assist small businesses implement health and safety measures needed to stay open.
By December, more than 30 Northalsted businesses applied for SSA #18 grants. Chicago’s Special Service Area program funds expanded services and programs for business development through local tax districts; Northalsted is the approved service provider for SSA #18.
The emergency grant programs were designed to provide aid with these COVID related costs:
- Up to $2,000 to implement social distance and safety measures in outdoor settings, eg. adding tents, heaters, walls, screens, etc.
- Up to $2,000 to upgrade HVAC systems with UV sterilization or HEPA air filtration, window modifications, and other air quality measures.
- Up to $1,000 for additional staffing to monitor and maintain social distancing, capacity limits & temperature screenings.
- Up to $1,000 to subsidize cleaning and sanitizing expenses, e.g cleaning products, supplies and professional services.
- Up to $1,000 to help with digital marketing and social media consultants or promotions.
One of the struggling small businesses, Elevate Coffee had been open less than 2 years before the pandemic hit. Owner Niko Zistakis runs the shop with his brother.
“We had a dream of opening a cafe and we finally made it happen. Then the pandemic hit and it seemed like a disaster.” says Zistaskis.
“The assistance we have received from the PPP loans, the support of regular customers, and the SSA grants is making all the difference to help us get through this.”
Another business owner, Mark Liberson, has had a presence on Northalsted for more than 20 years. His company operates Hydrate Nightclub, Elixir Lounge and Replay. The latter features wall to wall old school arcade games and a colorful 30 foot wall mural.
“We wanted to not only be open, but stay open,” Liberson said. “So we decided to do whatever we could by way of the HVAC systems to filter and clean the air.”
“The SSA funding really helped, since the investment cost in the equipment and safety measures has been substantial, while revenue has been very limited to say the least. We’ve been squeezing by with minimal staff, and making every dollar count.”
SSA #18 has already been an invaluable force helping improve the Northalsted neighborhood by providing funding and sponsorship of:
- Events such as Chicago Pride Fest, Chicago Pride Parade, Northalsted Market Days, and Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade
- Social media promotions and content creation
- Holiday and other decor including public way landscaping, planters, banners
- Sidewalk maintenance and cleaning,
- Supplemental snow removal
- Public art sculptures
- Bike transit
- Infrastructure oversight such as tree grates and trash bins
Now that the vaccines are being distributed and the rate of vaccinations is continuing to ramp up, it’s a race against the clock for our businesses to stay open until we can get back to some semblance of normal.
SSA #18 is continuing to address pandemic hardship in 2021 with 4 continuing emergency grant programs. More information about these and other SSA #18 details are available at northalsted.com/community.