Small Business Support Initiatives

The Village of Skokie is a strong partner and ally to Skokie businesses, using its platforms SKETCHBOOKOPEN20200727_210451_Originaland programs to support and promote businesses in a variety of ways. These efforts began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and have changed and strengthened to meet new challenges over the past few years:

  • Through social media, a wide variety of businesses are featured daily and weekly on the Shop Local,
    Downtown Skokie and Village of Skokie Facebook pages, which collectively have 8,000 active followers, respectively, generating hundreds of engagements, shares and comments of support from the residential and business community each week;
  • Timely and positive articles and photos showcasing local businesses are included in the Village’s electronic newsletter, SkokieNews, which is emailed weekly to over 43,000 subscribers;
  • As space allows, list new businesses in NewSkokie, the Village’s print newsletter;
  • In 2020 and 2021, the Village offered $5,000 COVID-19-related grants Village-wide and awarded over $220,000 in assistance to over 52 small businesses;  
  • Village ED staff also worked directly with several dozen more local businesses to assist them in applying for Federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP), Economic Impact Direct Loans (EIDL) and various Illinois financial assistance grant programs as a result of the negative impacts of COVID-19;
  • Allowed and encouraged restaurants Village-wide to create outdoor dining space in parking lots and on-street parking spaces, waived outdoor dining fees, provided curbside service posters and donated Jersey barriers to protect customers in on-street parking areas;
  • From mid-2015 to the beginning of 2020, the semi-annual SkokieBiz was distributed to a vast network of private entities (outside of Skokie) and residents and business owners within Skokie featuring dozens of celebratory announcements and accomplishments representing a wide variety of Skokie businesses, interesting ‘Biz-Bites’, a full-color listing of 18 to 20 new businesses with their logos, addresses and the number of jobs they created in each issue, ‘coming soon’ announcements and more;
  • Implementation, participation and promotion of business-centric events throughout the year, including  “Small Business Saturday”, “Small Business Week,” “February Restaurant Month”, “Carry On and Carry Out” and “SkokieWeGotThis (SWGT)” Campaigns, all of which took place during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions; “Downtown Skokie Walk & Rolls” and “Downtown Skokie Dine-Arounds”,  which encouraged patrons to visit Downtown Skokie businesses and public art, and the “Downtown Skokie Trick-or-Treat” annual event, which draws thousands to Downtown Skokie on the Saturday before Halloween each year.
  • In 2020 and 2021, Village staff personally visited over 200 small businesses in Skokie to check in on them during the pandemic and distribute posters on mask, vaccine and gathering restrictions; SWGT posters and swag, etc., as well as to ensure that they were receiving Village Constant Contact emails and providing info to keep the Village’s interactive website current;
  • Provide ongoing new business and start-up support with Village Economic Development Division staff via one-on-one meetings, identification of potential for lease or to buy spaces/buildings, business plan templates and referrals to helpful local service-providers such as banks, lawyers, accountants, marketing, and architects;
  • Conduct annual workshops (2012 to 2019) at the Skokie Public Library entitled “How To Start A Business in Skokie” “How to Become a Franchisee”, “Tales From the Entrepreneurial Front” and more, where local businesses are often featured as speakers and can promote their own business;
  • Village Economic Development Division staff have periodically invited industry-specific businesses to come to Village Hall and benefit from International Economic Development Council and National Restaurant Association webinars as part of Village membership in these organizations;
  • The Village continues to offer and award multiple interior, exterior rehab, design assistance, broker’s bonus and signage financial assistance program grants whereby recipients receive direct assistance in establishing, expanding or enhancing their business. These grants are often approved at the Village Board level with attendant local publicity and typically included in NewSkokie once the grant is awarded;
  • Work closely with Skokie Chamber of Commerce, Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau (CNSCVB), Oakton Community College and Select Chicago/FDI International visits/tours to promote local business and invite dozens of local businesses annually to participate in sponsored events with these organizations as Village partners and guests. The Village has historically offered Downtown Skokie restaurants a complimentary year-long membership in the CNSCVB and is currently developing similar, more comprehensive offer to Village-wide restaurants and cafés;   
  • Provide the Skokie Chamber of Commerce with annual list of new Skokie businesses to reach out to owners/managers to confirm contact info, pitch Chamber membership and answer questions about how to promote business among Skokie residents and business-to-business to promote creative cross-promotion partnerships;
  • The Village incorporates the retail, restaurant and service-provider businesses who have requested being included on the interactive map on the SkokieBiz.com website, and additional businesses are represented on the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Planning map categorized by industry name, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code and provides contact info and location;  
  • In 2021, the Village developed and promoted human-interest articles entitled “Stories Behind the Storefront” featuring Downtown Skokie restaurants, boosted using Village marketing funds which have been received favorably and increased engagement by Facebook audiences;;
  • Sponsor and host cross-marketing and business opportunities such as inviting Downtown Skokie and Village-wide restaurants to meet with Sketchbook Brewing Company and Illinois Science + Technology Park owners to rent food trucks, enable ‘pop-up’s and participate in gift fairs at these locales;  
  • From 2011 to 2014, provided free design services and visual merchandising products to Downtown Skokie storefronts in need of updating and promoted these businesses in Village publications; and
  • Provided matching exterior façade improvement grants to over 25 small manufacturing/industrial businesses in the East Industrial Corridor, all of whom have been promoted on various formats indicating their shared partnership with the Village.