Our office invests in small business development to keep and improve the amenities that make the 40th Ward a place people want to live. We actively work with neighbors, Chambers of Commerce, and the City of Chicago to develop empty commercial corridors and create equitable investment in neighborhoods. We also work to improve city programs that support and invest in local small businesses, especially minority- and women-owned businesses.
We are here to help – please contact our office to inquire about business services or locating your business in the 40th Ward.
Doing Business in the City of Chicago
The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) is your central resource to register and maintain your business license, as well as apply for any additional permits or licenses that may be required by activities, construction, or signage.
Business Licenses: Apply, Renew
Most businesses are required to maintain a business license from the City of Chicago and/or the State of Illinois. In addition, when applying for a business license you will need to make sure that your business location is zoned properly for the activities you intend to pursue. Business owners or legal representatives of business owners can apply online for a license or in-person by meeting with a Business Consultant in the Small Business Center (SBC).
- View the City of Chicago Business License guide to learn more about license types.
- Business License Exemptions – some businesses may not require a City business license.
- Chicago Business Zoning Guide
Other Common License and Permit Needs
- Public Place of Amusement / Performing Arts Venue – A Public Place of Amusement (PPA) license or a Performing Arts Venue (PVA) license may be required for many types of businesses or non-profits that produce, present or conduct any type of public entertainment (music, theater, or other amusement).
- Liquor Licenses – The first step in applying for a liquor license is to meet with a BACP business consultant to determine what type of license is required and if there are any restrictions based on your business location.
- Community input: In the 40th Ward, as part of the input process, community groups like block clubs and chambers of commerce are notified of applications and asked for feedback. Typical community concerns raised include noise, littering, and other nuisance and criminal activities. Potential licensees should work to proactively address those community concerns.
- The 40th Ward has a number of liquor moratorium zones that prohibit the issuance or transfer of tavern or packaged goods licenses.
- Businesses may request a moratorium amendment, either for sale/alteration of an existing business or for purposes of opening a new liquor licensed business. Even if a moratorium is lifted or amended, businesses must still apply for a liquor license and go through the subsequent public notification and comment process.
- Public Way Use Permits – If your business has a sign, canopy, awning, bench, or anything that extends over, under or is on the public way, it requires a Public Way Use permit. Sidewalk Cafés require a Public Way Use permit, too.
- Sign Permits – A sign permit from the Department of Buildings is generally required to place a sign on a parcel of land, a building, a structure or a place of business in the City of Chicago. A sign permit is not required for an incidental sign (address, hours, etc) or when the sign is painted or adhered directly to a window, provided the signage doesn’t exceed 25% of the glazing area of that window.
- Public Passenger Vehicles – All public vehicle and public chauffeur licensees and license applicants must schedule an appointment for services. Driving a Public Passenger Vehicle in Chicago requires a Public Chauffeur License.
Complaints and Investigations
Business Compliance Enforcement (BCE) Investigators conduct investigations at businesses throughout the City of Chicago to ensure compliance with Chicago’s Municipal Code. Investigators respond to residents’ complaints and conduct proactive investigations where necessary. BACP Investigators are easily identifiable. BACP Investigators will:
- Always identify themselves with City employee identification card and an identification
- Identify themselves upon entry to a business
- Never request onsite payment
Complaints about a business can be made by submitting a 311 City Service Request.
Support for Small Businesses
City of Chicago Resources
- The Small Business Center (SBC) is the City’s “one-stop-shop” for business licensing, public way use permitting, and connecting entrepreneurs to resources like business education webinars and news.
- Neighborhood Business Development Centers
- Chicago Business Center Program – Support for local businesses and entrepreneurs, funding resources, professional services and sector-specific guidance
- Cook County Clerk, Office of Assumed Names – Register your fictitious business name
- Harold Washington Library Center – has small business experts on hand to assist you
Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF)
The Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) provides grant funding for permanent building improvements and repairs across the city.
Offered by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to tenants and owners of industrial and commercial properties, SBIF grants are funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues in designated TIF districts citywide. Learn more about the Small Business Improvement Fund.
Home and Business Protection Program (HBPP)
The City’s Home and Business Protection Program (HBPP) helps Chicago residents and business owners obtain tools needed to protect their property and feel safe. Apply for the home security rebate program or apply for security devices at no cost based on your income. Applicants who are interested in aiding the Chicago Police Department (CPD) during criminal investigations have the option to register their camera system. Registering your equipment is NOT required to apply for the rebate program.
Other Small Business Resources
- SCORE Chicago – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.
- Community Law Project – Legal help for nonprofits and small businesses
- Community Enterprise and Solidarity Law Clinic – This UIC law program represents worker-owned cooperative business, non-profit, or small business that operates for the benefit of an underserved community.
- Lawyers for the Creative Arts – low-cost and pro-bono legal services for artists and creative businesses
Local Chambers of Commerce
Most Chambers of Commerce are also participating Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) with the City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce
Address: 4505 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625
Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce
Address: 1770 West Berteau Ave, Suite 101, Chicago, IL 60613
Rogers Park Business Alliance
Address: 1448 W. Morse Ave. Chicago, IL 60626
West Ridge Chamber of Commerce
Address: 6445 N. Western, Suite 304, Chicago, IL 60645
Contact the 40th Ward Office
Our office works to ensure you feel supported, connected, and valued. Please reach out with any questions or concerns you may have – we are here to help!