Supporting Entrepreneurs

About Our BuildUP Program

Community Desk Chicago understands the challenges of real estate development. It requires the coordination of a team, sequencing of design, local city approvals and construction – not to mention securing the capital to complete the project. It can be overwhelming. Our BuildUP program is designed to assist local entrepreneurs with launching brick-and-mortar spaces in under-resourced communities.

How We Help

We serve as a “help desk” to individual entrepreneurs through the following services:

Advisory Services: The Desk works with small businesses to assess the existing proposed project to help ensure the necessary costs are identified, the appropriate development team is assembled, and the capital is available to complete the project.

Capital Connections: Based on the project’s existing funding sources (e.g., loans, grants), The Desk connects entrepreneurs to additional funding sources based on project needs and financial feasibility.

Project Navigation: The Desk assists project owners in navigating the development process, connecting them to additional resources (e.g., project manager), and serving as a sounding board as issues arise.

Qualifying Entrepreneurs

The Desk targets our resources to those most aligned with our mission to advance equitable economic prosperity in collaboration with historically underserved and disinvested communities. Below are the qualifications for applying for our support:

Located in a Priority Neighborhood

The Desk is actively supporting projects along business districts in the following Chicago neighborhoods:

  • Avalon Park
  • Englewood
  • Humboldt Park
  • South Shore
  • Woodlawn

Offering Locally Desired Products or Services

The Desk is actively supporting brick-and-mortar entrepreneur projects that enhance quality of life by bringing new products or services that the community desires in their local business districts (e.g., local restaurant, bakery, gallery, etc.). Interested entrepreneurs must have an active business with at least one year of operations.

Connected to the Community

The Desk supports entrepreneurs connected to the community. To qualify for our services, entrepreneurs must demonstrate their current or planned efforts to contribute to the community (e.g., local hiring, community events, etc.).

How to Get Started

To inquire about working with The Desk on your brick-and-mortar project, start by filling out this 10-minute questionnaire. All fields are optional, as we understand projects start with varying levels of detail, but we encourage you to provide as much information as you can.