Goal:  We will support local businesses, attract new business, improve commercial corridors, and foster educational opportunities and job creation for residents.                 

Strategy 1

  •  Increase SBIF funds through TIF expansion- Addendum, increase outreach and applicant success. (expected completion 2018/2019).

  • Create a new Neighborhood Development Corporation – NWSHC- In process, expected completion-data summer 2018

  • Hold new business networking programs (NWSHC/Onward Neighborhood House) in process-ongoing 2018.

  • Expand resources for Latina/o businesses- Onward Neighborhood House, Northwest Side Housing Center- (ongoing Ecommerce classes, Adult Education, ESL/GED by Onward Neighborhood House, NWSHC- Financial Coaching, Spanish/Polish technical assistance, ESL/GED  Women’s Business Development Center- Scale Up.

Strategy 2



  • Install new banners along commercial corridors and signs at commercial gateways (completed spring 2016).

  • Recruit outside businesses with marketing sheets (with vacant store front) NWSHC  (expected spring (2018).

  • Create Gateway Signage- Chicago Cares, NWSHC,  (Summer 2018).

Strategy 3

  • Create an entrepreneurship incubator- Onward Neighborhood House- completed 2016.

Strategy 4

  • Clean-up and beautify commercial corridors- Chicago Cares, Steinmentz, 30th, 31st, 36th ward, community residents spring 2018.

  • Bring Divvy bikes to Belmont Cragin- NWSHC, 36th ward, Jan Gudell (community resident)

  • Expand and beautify sidewalks and public spaces- See above.

  • Additional Updates- NWSHC awarded local technical assistance through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to implement a transit oriented approach to the businesses and job plan. (2017).  

  • Include the 25th district Chicago Police Department into the safety and well-being component of the businesses and job committee (Fall 2017).

  • Bring Business Affairs and Consumer Protections to Belmont Cragin to hold Spanish workshops (Spring 2018).




  • The Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC) is working to increase outreach and applicant acceptance to SBIF funds through TIF expansion. 
  • The NWSHC is in the process of opening a Community Development Corporation
  • The Women's Business Development Center now offers ScaleUp, an intensive course that gives small businesses the tools to grow, in Belmont Cragin. The second cohort begins September 2018 at the NWSHC.
  • In partnership with Chicago Cares, the NWSHC has facilitated beautification projects at local elementary schools, along Fullerton Avenue, and in our neighborhood parks.
  • A mosaic is in process to be designed and installed at the Grand and Cicero underpass, thanks to the partnership of the NWSHC, Chicago Cares, and Greenstar Movement.

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Overall, Belmont Cragin has a healthy local economy, with more than 400 stores and restaurants. Our neighborhood has a variety of small businesses, including store owners of Latino and Eastern European backgrounds who provide residents and visitors with specialty goods and services along our community’s major commercial corridors. The community also is home to major retailers such as Home Depot, Jewel, Target and Walmart on the peripheries of the community, most notably at the Brickyard shopping mall.

At the same time, many residents are struggling to make ends meet, holding multiple part-time jobs. e increase in the community’s poverty rate, from 11 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2010, shows the need for local employment and for workforce training for residents to access quality jobs. Our vision is for Belmont Cragin’s commercial corridors to be attractive, busy and inviting, filled with thriving businesses, and for residents to have the training and opportunities to earn a good living, through a new job or by opening their own business.

There is local buying power to support businesses.

The residents of Belmont Cragin in total spend more than $532 million annually on retail goods, food and restaurants, and the household median disposable income is $35,097, nearly identical to the citywide average of $36,433. As opposed to many other communities in Chicago, our neighborhood has an annual “retail surplus” of $55 million—meaning that residents from other areas are coming into our community to shop. Much of this happens at national chains at the edges of the community, but this traffic is an opportunity to further support existing businesses in Belmont Cragin—and attract new ones as well.

Belmont Cragin has limited programs and resources to support local small businesses.

To help our small businesses grow their capacity and customer base to be competitive in today’s marketplace, there are existing business assistance programs in our neighborhood. The Belmont Central Chamber of Commerce is funded by the City of Chicago to connect local businesses to services, but
is under-resourced to support the growing demand for resources. A small Special Service Area (SSA) at the intersection of Belmont and Central Avenues and Small Business Improvement Funds (SBIFs) within local Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs)—all city programs that invest our neighborhood’s tax dollars in supporting local businesses—cover several of our major corridors such as Belmont, Fullerton and Cicero Avenues.

However, only a portion of the community’s small firms are covered by the SSA district. Too many small business owners, particularly those who are immigrants and/or with limited English, are unaware of other business resources currently available in the community or in the metropolitan Chicago area.

There is demand for more businesses and a need to raise Belmont Cragin’s business profile.


Belmont Cragin is a retail destination, yet residents still leave the community to purchase goods such as groceries and there are many vacant storefronts on our commercial corridors. Bringing in new businesses would both serve residents’ needs and o er local employment. Our main commercial avenues are a strong community asset, with substantial pedestrian foot traffic and traffic counts above the minimum of 20,000 cars per day that retailers consider a competitive location. There is opportunity to raise our community’s reputation as a retail destination and to improve the experience of shopping and eating in Belmont Cragin.

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Residents need access to job training and supports to find better paying and more stable jobs.

Belmont Cragin is a hard-working community, however nearly 60 percent of households are making less than $50,000 annually. There is a need for higher-paying jobs and career training opportunities that address our specific population mix (including recent immigrants, undocumented residents, limited English-speaking residents, and re-entry citizens).

Our local youth would bene t from more employment that offers after-school, part-time/temporary, and summer hours. These jobs often support their families and foster personal career development, along with career-building opportunities such as internships and job shadowing.

Residents are facing challenges due to changes in the economy, long commutes and a need for more local jobs.

After the decline in local manufacturing in the Armitage Industrial Corridor running along the southern end of Belmont Cragin and other industrial areas across the Northwest Side, many members of Belmont Cragin’s workforce were displaced and others were forced to travel longer distances for available jobs. Many residents who are employed have long commutes and, due to the limited public transportation in Belmont Cragin, the expense of owning a car.

Households by Income Level

Strategies and Projects / Business & Job Goals


We will support local businesses, attract new business, improve commercial corridors, and foster educational opportunities and job creation for residents.