Economic Development










WHPDC’s commercial work began with the renovation of the Chicago Kedzie Shopping Center which created opportunities for residents to purchase goods and services in the community, and over 70 new jobs. 

Working with the City of Chicago, CDOT, IDOT, and Alderman Walter Burnett’s office, WHPDC, was able to expedite the complete renovation of the Chicago Avenue streetscape.

As the lead in the Smart Communities technology program, WHPDC, provided customized technology action plans to 30 businesses and was instrumental in the development of the Humboldt Park Portal - a community driven website serving Greater Humboldt Park. 

Situated between two of Chicago’s most lovely parks – Garfield Park and Humboldt Park - West Humboldt Park businesses are just 15 minutes from The Loop easily assessable via the CTA Green Line or the CTA#66 bus. Parking is abundant. 


Commercial Resources

WHPDC’s commercial work consists of two primary programs: Commercial Supportive Services and Special Service Areas.

WHPDC's Commercial Supportive Services (CSS), coupled with strong retail and commercial opportunites, affordable and available commercial space and vacant parcels create a compelling incentive for new and expanding businesses to select Chicago’s West Humboldt Park as their home. As a long standing service in the City of Chicago, CSS supports businesses by connecting them to City services:

  • Connecting businesses to local elected officials

  • Aligning businesses with various City departments and programs

  • Assisting with applications for City of Chicago small business loans and grants

  • Providing technical assistance with start-up and existing businesses

  • Assistance locating available commercial/retail space

Success Stories

Adolfo Vizcaino, Thermal – Electric, Inc., 3838 W. Chicago


Adolfo Vizcaino, Thermal Electric

We assisted Adolfo with acquisition of an adjacent vacant City-owned lot, and provided technical assistance with expansion of commercial building, financing and utilization of Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) grant.  SBIF uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help owners of commercial and industrial properties repair or remodel their facilities with reimbursement grants of up to 75% of project cost.  We assisted with Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification resulting in increased contracting opportunities.  Through the Smart Communities program we assisted Adolfo with Google Adwords pay-per-click campaign and substantially increased key words quality scores resulting in more effective online advertising.

Adolfo does installation and maintenance of HVAC systems and electrical contracting for the Chicago Housing Authority, landlords, and homeowners in the Chicago area.

“I found his management abilities to be invaluable in helping me establish Thermal Electric as a leader in the Electrical Heating and Cooling industry. His conscientious effort and cooperation in doing professional, high-quality work were appreciated … Tom Otto was efficient, innovative and responsive.”  - Adolfo Vizcaino, Thermal Electric

Ethel Oliver, Oliver’s House of Beauty, 3850 W. Chicago


Ethel Oliver, Oliver's House of Beauty

T. Otto

We assisted the business owner, Ethel, with renovation of her salon and commercial storefront.  Improvements included a new roof, tuck pointing, new floors, basement waterproofing and more.  She received assistance with the scope of work, contractor selection, and utilization of a Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) grant.  Ethel received reimbursement from the grant program.  Ethel has been a salon owner since the 1970s.

 Pablo Moran, Paisano’s Tacos, 2429 W. Division


Pablo Moran, Paisano's Tacos

Through our Smart Communities technology program, we did a Tech Assessment of the restaurant, created a Tech Action Plan laying out suggested web-based marketing strategies to drive business and increase revenue.  Created and developed e-newsletter campaign and social media campaign to increase revenues.  Paisano’s Tacos, located on the Paseo Boricua, has been family owned since 1972.

“I am harnessing the power of the Internet to bring new customers into my restaurant.  The whole package is really helping!” -Pablo Moran, Paisano’s Tacos, 2429 W Division

Nellies Restaurant & Café Calao, 2438 & 2458 W. Division


Through our Smart Communities technology program, we did a Tech Assessment of the restaurant, created a Tech Action Plan, and developed a social media and website strategy to drive business to Paseo Boricua restaurant and cafe. We provided a Dell Optiplex 380 Desktop computer loaded with MS Office and QuickBooks Pro.  Provided discounted mobile internet service allowing customers to enjoy free Wi-Fi at low owner cost.  Nellie’s Puerto Rican Restaurant and Cafe Calao are family-owned cafes nested in heart of Chicago’s vibrant Puerto Rican community.

Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill, 3506 W. Chicago


Quentin Love, Turkey Chop

Complete turn-key build-out of storefront space for new sit-down healthy grill restaurant.  Provided tech consultant to set up a social media platform and develop a social media strategy.  We suggested appropriate software for employee check-in and check –out.  And we provided assistance in marketing of restaurant and grand opening event.  

WHPDC's Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill was a finalist for the Urban Land Institutes Vision Awards. WHPDC’s Turkey Chop project, the first sit-down restaurant on Chicago Avenue in over 15 years, represented a strategic opportunity to rehab a vacant building located in the City’s designated Micro-Market Recovery Program area while providing a healthier food option for the community.

EE2 Consulting, 3504 W. Chicago 


Set up crowdfunding campaign through KivaZip for Edwin Ayala's energy efficiency lighting retrofit business - EE2.  Edwin was able to obtain a $5,000 zero-percent  (0%!) loan through online lending platform KivaZip for working capital which carried him through the remainder of his progam year with ComEd when additional program funds become available.    

Small Business Improvement Fund

The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) program uses local Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues to help owners of commercial and industrial properties and/or tenants within specific TIF districts to repair or remodel their facilities. Program participants can receive reimbursing grants to cover 25%, 50%, or 75% of the cost of remodeling work, with a maximum grant amount of $ 150,000. The grant does not have to be repaid.

SBIF helps make improvements to small business properties in selected Chicago neighborhoods. TIFs in the West Humboldt Park area include the Chicago/Central Park TIF, Kinzie Industrial Corridor TIF, Division/Homan TIF, and the Humboldt Park TIF.

Eligible expenses for a SBIF grant include, but are not limited to:

  • New windows, floors or roof

  • Sign removal and replacement

  • Tuck pointing

  • New heating, ventilation and air conditioning

  • Improvements to accommodate disabled patrons or workers

  • Purchase of adjacent property for building expansion or parking

SBIF grants are provided to property owners after remodeling work is completed and all expenses are paid. Residential property, residential components of a mixed-use building, and property leased to certain businesses are not eligible for the program. If you are not sure, contact us and ask.  Vacant business property is eligible, but grants are not paid until the space is occupied by a business tenant.

Retooling Chicago: SBIF Grants video.

We have assisted numerous business and property owners in Humboldt Park with this program and brought the projects to completion successfully. Read about some of our SBIF Success Stories

For more information on SBIF contact Tom Otto at (773) 342-0036 ext 23 or or visit Somercor

SBIF Success Stories


3506 W Chicago Ave BEFORE

Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill, 3506 W Chicago Avenue  - The property at 3506 W Chicago Avenue was a typical mixed-use building with commercial on the first floor and a residential unit on the second floor. The building is 86 years old and was vacant for a number of years. Previously the commercial space had been used as a grill and sub fast food restaurant for take-out only. The first floor space was in poor condition consisting of drywall only, no fixtures or equipment existed in the space.  


3506 W Chicago Ave AFTER

West Humboldt Park Development Council acquired the vacant mixed-use building in December 2011 while simultaneously negotiating with a local restaurateur to bring a new sit down healthier-fare restaurant to the neighborhood. Our commercial corridor – Chicago Avenue between Kedzie & Pulaski – is plagued with vacant buildings, lots, and a shortage of healthy food options (produce stores, grocery stores, restaurants, etc). The project represented a strategic opportunity to rehab a vacant building located in the City’s designated Micro-Market Recovery Program area while providing a healthier food option for the community. WHPDC also wanted to set a new design standard for the commercial corridor. The majority of stores along the commercial corridor have interiors with protective barriers, closed in window frames, limited natural light, and dark dingy poorly maintained exterior spaces. We wanted to create a space that was light and airy, with large amounts of natural light and window space. 

The commercial corridor is located in the Chicago-Central Park TIF district which has the Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) grant program providing grants up to 75% of construction rehab costs up to $150,000. We were able to obtain a grant to complete the building rehab. By December 31, 2012 construction was complete with all permits and certificates obtained. The restaurant – Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill – opened up in February 2013. A partner celebration event was held on February 4, 2013. We are currently negotiating with two non-profits to lease the 2nd floor commercial space.  View the project slide show.

3620 W Chicago Avenue - Project consisted of installation of new basement drain pipe, new steel door, removal and treatment of mold and mildew in basement, painting, new sump pump, electrical boxes, light fixtures, front door, pressure wash, tuckpoint, sealing of basement walls, removal of trees, branches from exterior walls, and concrete work.


3838 W Chicago Ave BEFORE

Thermal-Electric, 3838 W Chicago Avenue - We assisted Adolfo with acquisition of an adjacent vacant City-owned lot, and provided technical assistance with expansion of commercial building, financing and utilization of Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) grant.


3838 W Chicago Ave AFTER

T. Otto

Scope of work included purchase of adjacent vacant City-owned lot, parking lot paving, plumbing (including deep catch basin for parking lot), electrical work, signage, wrought iron fence, steel canopy, landscaping, and rolling shutters. 

The construction project allowed for business expansion for his growing HVAC and electrical business.  The parking lot allowed Adofo to securely store his fleet vehicles outside and freed up garage interior space for inventory and workspace.  Read more about his project.


3850 W Chicago Ave BEFORE

T. Otto

Oliver's House of Beauty, 3850 W Chicago Avenue - Tuckpointing, new windows, doors, and facade on south (street) side; new roofing and flashing; demolition and rebuilding of new rear porch; plumbing work including new sump pump, floor drains in basement, new drains and copper water lines; electrical work; security shutters. 


3850 W Chicago Ave AFTER

T. Otto

This project was complicated by a challenging experience with a contractor.  We provided technical assistance to Oliver in selecting a new contractor, getting the project completed, and obtaining the grant reimbursement.  

Hair Mechanics, 3356 W Chicago Avenue - Storefront, framing, drywall, plumbing, electrical, painting; bathroom renovation, rebuilding of second floor work area, and HVAC system.

1945 W Chicago Avenue - Tuckpointing, HVAC systems, windows, hardwood flooring, and painting.


3345 W Chicago Ave BEFORE


3345 W Chicago Ave AFTER

Bryan Hanson

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Tax Increment Financing is a special funding tool used by the City of Chicago to promote public and private investment across the city. Funds are used to build and repair roads and infrastructure, clean polluted land and put vacant properties back to productive use, usually in conjunction with private development projects. Funds are generated by growth in the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of properties within a designated district over a period of 23 years.

Five TIF districts overlap the West Humboldt Park area:

  1. Chicago Central Park TIF

  2. Division Homan TIF

  3. Kinzie Industrial Corridor TIF

  4. Humboldt Park TIF

  5. Northwest Industrial Corridor TIF

In addition to the SBIF program TIF also funds these other major programs:


TIFWorks stimulates business success by funding workforce-training costs for companies located in tax increment financing (TIF) districts. With TIFWorks support, businesses can become better equipped to improve performance and productivity, expand product lines and gain new customers. 

Since 2008 TIFWorks has provided $4.3 million in TIF funds to 84 business for the training of 3295 employees and the hiring of 174 new employees. 

If your company is located in an eligible TIF district in Chicago, you can receive funding for workforce-training programs.

Streamlined Tax Increment Financining

The Sreamlined-TIF program provides expedited access to valuable grants for the improvement of industrial, commercial, retail or residential mixed-use properties in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts citywide. The program incorporates an easy-to-use application form and efficient approval process to pay up to 25 percent of renovation, expansion, or redevelopment costs. Assistance ranges from $25,000 to $1,000,000.

Neighborhood Improvement Program

The Tax Increment Finance-Neighborhood Improvement Program (TIF-NIP) is a Department of Housing and Economic Development  (HED) -administered program that has been providing home repair grants in eligible TIF districts since 1999. The program provides home repair grants for both single and multi-family residences. Grants are primarily for exterior repairs however, up to 30 percent of the grant may be used for interior repairs that are health and safety related. Grant amounts are based on the number of units per residence.

Business Workshops & Technical Assistance

Business Workshops & Technical Assistance

Our workshops focus on topics relevant to operating a business in today’s challenging environment, such as business plan writing; business credit and financing; effective online and print marketing strategies; developing a social media strategy; accounting software; developing a website; financial and tax reporting; online banking; e-commerce; and City of Chicago permits, licensing and zoning.

The City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) offers workshops every Wednesday and Friday. Workshops vary each month and are conducted by City Officials, experts and partner business organizations. All workshops are free, and open to the public. Workshops are held at BACP's offices located at 121 N. LaSalle St., City Hall Room 805, Chicago, IL  60602

Both the SSA and CSS services include business technical assistance that help launch new businesses and supports the growth of existing businesses. Our business technical assistance includes: 

Business assessment 
Our skilled professional team will work with you to explore business potential, assess market dynamics, review and analyze your business plan concepts. 

Connecting business owners with properties/space
Whether opening a new business or simply moving your business to a new location, our database of area buildings for sale and lease helps you select a site that suits your needs. 

Consulting and strategy development 
Take advantage of our experience with the local business market and global market trends through customized support with developing cost-effective online and print media marketing; and identifying needs and accessing flexible financing and grants. 

Resources and Referral 
Utilize our resources and connections to:

Social Media Wednesdays


An opportunity to network with local business development leaders, local business owners and an opportunity to learn about the latest in digital marketing.

Dates: Wednesdays starting September 17th – Wednesday, October 1st

Social Media Wednesdays Series:

Digital Marketing ROI

September 17th, 2014 @ 6pm

Social Media 101

September 24th, 2014 @ 6pm

LinkedIn for Professional Networking

October 1, 2014 @ 6pm

Light refreshments from Turkey Chop served at 5:30pm.
Hour long seminars begin promptly at 6pm.

Follow Social Media Wednesdays on Facebook!

For more information contact:

Tom Otto
Economic Development Planner
West Humboldt Park Development Council
(773) 342-0036 Ext 23

Roberto Lopez
Digital Marketing Director 
Futuro Studio
(773) 442-2204

West Humboldt Park Family & Community Development Council