Next Street and Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF USA) set out to determine how the city of Chicago can ensure equitable access to opportunity for all small business owners.

How we analyzed the ecosystem

With funding from the Chicago Community Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation, and JPMorgan Chase, we created a baseline for understanding the capital needs, challenges, and assets Chicago’s small business ecosystem. We carefully analyzed the city’s key players – including capital providers, foundations, investors, business support organizations, and businesses themselves. Through that analysis, we developed an understanding of their specific roles in Chicago’s small business ecosystem. We also explored how they can each elevate their effort to make Chicago’s economy more inclusive.

The Impact

We proposed a clear path forward for the city of Chicago and key stakeholders based on the findings. With these solutions, partners can make access to opportunity in the Windy City more inclusive. With the core research findings and priority recommendations coming out of this project, Chicago’s small business ecosystem has an opportunity to help shape the next chapter of small business growth and entrepreneurship in the city. As a result, they can create new pathways for inclusive growth, shared prosperity, and economic mobility.