Incentive Programs

Financial incentives are monetary benefits typically used to fund development that otherwise would not occur. An economic development incentive is cash or near-cash assistance given on a selective basis to attract, expand, or retain business operations. They can also be used to provide other types of services. An incentive should be used to encourage an action that would not have happened on its own, without support. Each incentive program has its own authorizing agency and reporting requirements. Learn more about each of the individual financial incentive programs below.

Wondering if a specific property or parcel is eligible for Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF), Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF), or New Market Tax Credits (NMTC)? Use the Chicago Cityscape Incentives Checker.

Incentives Checker is an exclusive feature that checks an address's eligibility for 35 geographically-based financial and development incentives across Illinois. Chicago Cityscape is a community and real estate information platform working to accelerate equitable investment and desired development in every Chicago community. Incentives Checker is for Chicago Cityscape's Real Estate Pro members only but Chicago Cityscape has created a special version that does not require an account or a membership through this link.

Incentive programs were selected for this project based on the initial scope of work that was created in 2019. This scope included the identification of multiple types of programs beyond the final six selected. MPC initially compiled a broader list that included additional state and federal incentive programs, multiple bond programs, as well as other types of development funding. The organization finalized the list of six incentives based on the availability of public data.

This review could be expanded to include additional incentive programs. Incentives that may be candidates for future analysis include:

  • Chicago Recovery Plan (CRP) Grants: A citywide program designed to ‘catalyze a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic’ using federal and local funding sources. The CRP is making grants available for private investment projects based on community priorities established through the 2022 City budget process. In July 2022, 79 awardees across 36 community areas were selected to receive more than $49 million in CRP grant funding.
  • Enterprise Zone Program: The Illinois Enterprise Zone Program is a statewide incentive program designed to ‘stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in economically depressed areas’ by providing state and local tax incentives, regulatory relief and improved governmental services. Large areas of Chicago outside of the Loop currently fall within the city’s six designated enterprise zones.
  • Opportunity Zones: The federal Opportunity Zone Program was created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and allows tax breaks for investors in ‘Qualified Opportunity Funds’ which in turn invest in projects located in designated Opportunity Zones. The City of Chicago has 133 Opportunity Zone census tracts selected based on demographic characteristics.
  • Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Program: EDGE is a state sponsored tax abatement program that provides income tax credits to small businesses in order to spur job growth and creation in Illinois. EDGE tax credits can be increased in ‘underserved areas’ defined based on poverty rate, unemployment, and other demographic factors.
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program: Administered federally by HUD, LIHTC gives state and local LIHTC-allocating agencies approximately $8 billion to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households. LIHTC funds are granted locally through an application and award process by the Chicago Department of Housing.
  • Exploration of funding sources for equitable development incentives through multiple bond programs, such as Industrial Development Revenue Bonds, General Obligation Bonds, and Revenue Bonds.