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Benefit Chicago Raises $77 Million and Announces First Round of Impact Investments

May 2017
May 2017
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Created to expand the pool of loans and investments available to mission-directed for- and nonprofit entities, Benefit Chicago announced yesterday that it has raised $77 million of the $100 million it seeks to mobilize for impact investments for nonprofits and social enterprises working throughout the Chicago region. Additionally, Benefit Chicago also announced its first round of investments, including six Chicago-area organizations that are slated to receive a total of $12 million in loans.
The six organizations include AutonomyWorks, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), Garfield Produce Company, IFF, the Southwest Corridor Collaborative of LISC Chicago, and Sweet Beginnings, the for-profit subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network.

We are excited by the diversity of the borrowers and the initiatives they submitted for financing Benefit Chicago Executive Director, William Towns
“We are excited by the diversity of the borrowers and the initiatives they submitted for financing,” said Benefit Chicago Executive Director William Towns . “Some are established, well-known organizations; others relatively new, but all represent the opportunities for and commitment to development in every part of Chicago and to the well-being of residents.”
Check out the first round of borrowers:

Autonomy Works

AutonomyWorks is a for-profit social enterprise that provides meaningful employment for adults with autism. The organization contracts with national and international marketing organizations that need detail- and task-oriented employees to effectively support their digital and online marketing efforts. The $600,000 loan will be used to expand marketing and training activities to increase the number of people hired.

CNI is a Community Development Corporation (CDC) and certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that engages in comprehensive revitalization work in Chicago’s economically challenged neighborhoods. CNI is best known for its multifaceted redevelopment efforts in the Pullman community. Proceeds from the $2 million loan will be used in part to facilitate the completion of the 111th Street Retail Gateway in Pullman.

Garfield Produce Company

Garfield Produce Company is an indoor, vertical hydroponic vegetable farm that creates sustainable local employment and generates wealth in disinvested neighborhoods through the production and sale of high quality fresh produce year-round. Garfield Produce will use its $500,000 loan to expand production capacity and hire additional employees.

IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer, which finances a variety of nonprofit sponsored community facilities projects that range from affordable housing and schools to community centers and commercial buildings. The $5 million loan will help finance a variety of projects, including a children’s theatre in the Near West Side neighborhood, a child care and family services facility in Humboldt Park, and a youth sports and education facility in Bronzeville.

LISC Chicago

LISC Chicago is a leading national community development intermediary, raising funds that are invested through community-based organizations throughout Chicago. LISC Chicago will use the $3.5 million loan to support the Southwest Corridor Collaborative (SWCC), a new community partnership focused on revitalizing the 63rd Street corridor from Cottage Grove Avenue to Pulaski Road and on Halsted from 63rd through 79th Street.

Sweet Beginnings

Sweet Beginnings, a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network, uses the production of beelove™ – a line of honey-based products – to provide job training to community residents who, due to former incarceration or other circumstances, have found it difficult to procure gainful employment. The $500,000 loan will be used to expand production and sales, which will make it possible to increase the number of individuals served and their length of employment.
Click here to learn more about Benefit Chicago!


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