The plan calls for increasing the city’s investment in a microlending program that helps small businesses in Chicago’s most vulnerable communities
A growing coalition of elected officials joined mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle to discuss her plan to triple the city’s investment in the Chicago Microlending Institute (CMI) and the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF) to help small businesses in Chicago’s Black and Brown communities. Toni enjoys broad support from electeds across our city, county, and state because she’s a proven fighter who’s unafraid to take on the good old boys club.
CMI is a public-private partnership that provides microloans, ranging between $500 to $50,000, to small businesses in Chicago’s most vulnerable communities. Since its establishment, CMI lenders have directed 60 percent of their more than 255 loans to low-income communities, 70 percent to businesses on Chicago’s South and West Sides, and 90 percent to women and minority entrepreneurs.
Tripling the small business micro-lending program is true and direct investment in our communities. Toni believes programs like CMI can be critical to helping Chicago’s minority-owned businesses, especially those in disadvantaged communities, access capital.
We also need to increase investments in The Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which provides funding on projects of up to $250,000. Combined with our commitment to the CMI, we will make sure we help disadvantaged small businesses at every stage.
Despite the fact that the U.S. Commerce Department recently identified capital access as “the most important factor limiting the establishment, expansion, and growth of minority-owned businesses,” small, minority-owned businesses continue to face systemic discrimination in lending and investment. For example, one national study found that minority-owned businesses are three times as likely to be denied bank loans as white-owned businesses.
In Chicago, a CMI study identified over $25 million in unmet demand for microloans in our most vulnerable communities. The inability of these small businesses to access loans undermines job creation and economic stability where it is needed most.
Toni believes the city must do more to help meet this demand and provide the capital that disadvantaged businesses need to grow and create jobs. In her first year as mayor, Toni is committed to tripling the size of the city’s investment to increase the revolving loan fund that supports the CMI from $2 million to $6 million and encouraging CMI’s philanthropic and private partners to double their commitments as well. Not only will these new investments make a bigger dent in the unmet demand for small loans, but they will help displace the predatory short-term lenders that target small businesses.
“Dr. King always reminded us that the struggle for racial equality requires economic equality. That’s why I’ve fought my entire career to expand opportunity to the economically disenfranchised,” said mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle. “In addition to my plan to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021, I am committed to responsibly leveraging the city’s resources to reduce the barriers to capital for disadvantaged small businesses—the economic backbone of our communities.”
The following elected officials stood in support of Toni and her proposal: Chicago City Council Black Caucus Chairman Roderick Sawyer (6th), Chicago City Council Progressive Caucus Chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd), Chicago Alds. Pat Dowell (3rd), Sophia King (4th), Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), Chris Taliaferro (29th) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th); Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough; Cook County Commissioners Brandon Johnson (1st District), Dennis Deer (2nd District), Bill Lowry (3rd District) and Stanley Moore (4th District); Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Kim Du Buclet; Illinois State Sens. Omar Aquino (2nd District), Robert Peters (13th District) and Iris Martinez (20th District); Illinois State Reps. Delia Ramirez (4th District), Lamont Robinson (5th District), Rob Martwick (19th District), Kam Buckner (26th District), Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (33rd District) and Will Guzzardi (39th District).
“Currently, economic development in our neighborhoods is insufficient and unequal,” said Chicago City Council Black Caucus Chairman Roderick Sawyer (6th). “Downtown Chicago has seen consistent development, while our communities continually get left out. Chicago needs a mayor who will prioritize economic reform across distressed communities. I support Toni Preckwinkle’s plan to bring economic prosperity to all of Chicago, not just downtown.”
“We need deep economic reform across our communities in Chicago,” said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward). “The wealthy continually take advantage of our current system and our leadership does nothing to stop them. Toni Preckwinkle is the woman we need to drive the economic and social change Chicago needs. She’s a proven fighter who isn’t afraid to take on the good ol’ boys club.”
“Whether it’s addressing disparities in healthcare, helping to create better-resourced schools or working to reform our criminal justice system, Toni Preckwinkle has an impressive history of fighting for communities. And this new policy for small business microlending in our most vulnerable communities is just another example of her steadfast commitment to achieving a more just and equitable city,” said Sen. Iris Martinez (20th District).
Contact: Monica Trevino