The West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce is a member based 501 C6 non-profit organization. The WTCC currently represents over 200 active dues paying members and has over 1700 local contacts in our database; mostly small businesses and entrepreneurs located throughout the West Town area.
CHAMBER SERVICE AREA:
The Chamber’s official service area is Grand Avenue to Division Street, Halsted Street to Kedzie Avenue. Dues paying business members within that service area are eligible to vote on neighborhood issues, chamber committees and elections. Business members located outside of the chamber service area receive all of the same perks of membership except the right to vote.
What We do:
The West Town Chamber of Commerce fosters community and economic development by empowering businesses with information, networking opportunities, marketing, and other programming. The chamber extensively promotes the unique elements of the West Town neighborhoods and strives to engage the public through the organization of special events that highlight existing businesses and attract consumers and new businesses to the West Town area. The chamber serves as a channel through which members can cultivate a diverse, symbiotic, and growth-oriented community.
Public Relations Positioning Statements:
West Town is a neighborhood destination which thrives on the principles of community and the subsequent charm created by this diverse, yet united community This is an area defined by a rich history of residents and the entrepreneurial pioneers who’ve helped maintain the essence of what truly defines “Chicago”…its neighborhoods.
DISCOVER West Town’s neighborhoods and their diverse offerings. These West Town retailers, restaurants, bars and services are truly unique and weave the wonderfully eclectic fabric of our community.
What Does the West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce Do for Local Businesses?
Opportunity for Involvement: The chamber involves the local business members and holds regular board and committee meetings to assess the needs of the business community and create programs, events, and initiatives with the direction of the local business owners. All chamber programs are initiated and steered by local business representative volunteers.
Networking & Educational Opportunities: The WTCC holds networking events and informational seminars throughout the year. Topics, days, times and locations vary. The meetings are geared to assist local businesses to succeed through lead generation, contact and technical resource sharing. Free city resources, programs, and classes offered by the City’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection are shared in our monthly e-newsletters.
Informative Newsletters: The WTCC releases TWO monthly newsletters. The "What's Happening in West Town" newsletter is a promotional summary of neighborhood happenings and business events, and the other newsletter is informational for Chamber Members announcing meetings and chamber programs. If you would like to receive the Chamber Member's monthly newsletter, we encourage you to join the chamber by clicking here.
Advocacy: The chamber is a voice for the business community. The WTCC represents the chamber members' stance on issues relating to commerce, zoning, licensing, and commercial development to city and state officials. Stance letters from the Commercial Development Committee and Board are shared in the WTCC member newsletter and sent to the appropriate officials and departments.
Online Marketing: The WTCC currently has the following websites: www.westtownchamber.org, www.westtownchicago.com, www.do-division.com, www.do-divisionstreetfest.com, www.westfestchicago.com, www.foodtrucksocial.biz, www.westtownartwalk.com and www.westtownssa.org.
Social Media Marketing: The chamber as @WestTownChicago and West Town Chicago and many of the individual chamber special events are also on Facebook and Twitter: @DoDivision, @DoDivisionStreetFest, @WestFestChicago, @WestTownArtWalk, @WestTownFTS, @WestTownCommunityAlliance. Chamber member business events, specials, local news, plus our details on chamber meetings and special events are shared via social media outlets.
Area Wide Marketing: The WTCC launched the Discover West Town Mobile APP in 2012 which is a West Town business directory with “Hot Deals”, local events, and a discover feature with links to social media.
The Discover West Town Mobile APP is available for free download on all smart phones and also accessible online http://m.westtownchicago.com. The consumer oriented websites www.westtownchicago.com and www.do-division.com have links to the online Mobile APP and include a business directory, “Hot Deals”, a local calendar and special events.
Public Relations: The WTCC works with a professional PR firm to secure publicity for the local businesses and special events in local, national, and international publications; and on local radio and television. A Social Media Management firm manages the West Town Facebook and Twitter accounts and blasts local business specials, news, and happenings.
Business Resources: The chamber keeps business resource information such as contacts for the city and state, demographic information, financial resources, and a list of commercial spaces available on our chamber website in an effort to retain existing businesses and recruit new businesses to move to West Town.
Technical Assistance: The WTCC assists local businesses with general business resources, city permits and licensing. The chamber may also serve as a liaison between a member business and the proper city department or official.
Beautification Programs: As the service provider for the West Town SSA, the chamber manages the decorative street pole banner program which identifies and brands the area, and installs annual holiday decorations. The SSA funds and WTCC manages a street maintenance crew that picks up garbage, takes down posters, and reports graffiti 3-5 days a week (above and beyond what the city provides); power washing of sidewalks, landscaping of public areas, snow removal on sidewalks, and coordinates public art such as the mural projects on Chicago Avenue.
Facade Rebate & Graffiti rebate programs: The West Town SSA rebates 50% of eligible façade projects up to $15,000, and also offers a graffiti abatement rebate program. The chamber offers a streamlined process with no application fee and the applications are available online www.westtownssa.org. Properties must be in SSA boundaries to qualify.
Commercial Development: The WTCC has a Commercial Development Committee which reviews proposals for new developments and zoning changes in the district, then presents recommendations to the Board of Directors whom vote to write letters to the appropriate local Aldermen and city departments. Available commercial spaces are listed on the chamber's website to encourage new businesses to move in to the West Town area. All of the chamber programs and policies are geared to promote positive economic and commercial development.
District Planning: The West Town SSA Commission and WTCC Board has been working to develop a West Town Master Plan. The plan is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2017.
Community Partnering: The chamber works with neighboring business associations such as the Wicker Park & Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (WPBCC) and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC). The chamber shares the Division Street Committee with the WPBCC; and assists Grand Avenue businesses and the Design District while communicating with ICNC. The WTCC offers 50% discount on dues to businesses that are also members of a neighboring organization. The WTCC also works with other local non-profits, schools, community and park groups to promote programs and provide opportunities for collaborations and fundraising.
The West Town Community Alliance was formed by a group of volunteers and is dedicated to providing a neutral space for all community members of the West Town area to express their opinions on proposed changes and developments that affect them. The WTCA is meant as a supplement to the existing neighborhood associations as a way to leverage technology to enable a wider range of neighbors to have a voice in neighborhood development.
Special Events & Fundraisers: The chamber produces a number of fundraisers and special events throughout the year to promote the West Town commercial districts, to foster economic development, and provide area wide marketing. Funds raised at these events supplement the chamber’s operating budget, fund chamber programs and services, and proceeds also benefit local schools, parks, and other local non-profits. Click here for more information.
Charitable Giving: The chamber supports the local non-profit community. In 2016 the chamber raised and donated over $52,000 to local schools and non-profits that partner with the chamber on the special events.
WTCC E-Newsletters :
Click here to read our archived "What's Happening in West Town" e-newsletters.
WTCCC Technical Assistance :
WHAT IS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE?
The West Town Chamber of Commerce can help local businesses by providing a variety of types of technical assistance. Below are some of the types of assistance. If you have a question related to the City of Chicago or City services, we may be able to help with that too!
• Becoming a certified minority or woman owned business M/WBE
• Bidding on City contracts
• CAPS and neighborhood meetings
• City service request tracking
• City services schedules
• Funding resources for starting a business in Chicago
• Identification of existence of TIF, SSA, Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Zone, Planning District, Planned Manufacturing District, Landmark District
• Identification of full ZIP code, Ward, Community Area
• Informational resources for starting a business in Chicago
• Liaison between business and proper City department
• Liaison to public officials as advocate for issue
• Local fire and police department location, contacts
• Neighborhood school information, schedules, contacts
• Permit tracking
• Principal owners/operators & contact information for businesses
• Public way use permits for items like signs, awnings, loading zones
• Reporting and tracking abandoned/illegally parked vehicle
• Reporting and tracking for tree trimming
• Reporting and tracking graffiti and graffiti removal
• Requests and tracking for installation of bike racks
• Zoning information
Free Legal ClinicsLooking for free legal assistance for your small business? Attend one of these Free Legal Clinics offered by The Law Project* and the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Business Development Centers.
www.thelawproject.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-939-3638.
Government Agency Resources :
City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
BACP issues Business Licenses and Public Way Use Permits. The department ensures compliance with business and consumer laws. BACP also provides access to free business education and resources.
121 N. LaSalle St. 8th Floor
312-744-2086 Small Business Solution Station
City of Chicago, Department of Housing and Economic DevelopmentThe City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development (HED) promotes economic development by helping existing businesses grow and by attracting new industry to the city. The department also leads Chicago's affordable housing, housing preservation and community-based homebuyer assistance programs, as well as the city's zoning, land use planning, sustainability and historic preservation initiatives. The department works in cooperation with community and business groups, elected officials, delegate agencies and other community stakeholders.
121 N. La Salle – City Hall Chicago, IL 60602
City of Chicago, Office of the City TreasurerThe City’s Treasurers Office provides programs such as the Linked Deposit Program, Anti-Predatory Lending Program, Financial Literacy Program and the Small Business Expo to foster and promote economic vitality of the City’s neighborhoods. The Treasurer has committed up to $75 million to the Linked Deposit Program, to assist small businesses obtain loans from banks.
121 N. La Salle – City Hall Room 106 Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-3356 Fax (312) 742-0981
State of Illinois, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)James R. Thompson Center
The State of Illinois, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers programs and services designed to help Illinois businesses thrive in today’s economy by offering expansion incentives, technology support services, access to capital, global marketing expertise or job training and education for workers.
100 West Randolph, Suite 3-400 Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 814-7179 Fax (312) 814-5247
State of Illinois, Office of the State TreasurerEmploy Illinois: Business Loans
Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' office supports small Businesses through a program called Employ Illinois: Business Loans. The Treasurer's Office deposits state funds into participating banks, which enables the banks to lend money to borrowers at a below-market interest rate.
100 West Randolph, Suite 15-600 Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-8953 Fax (312) 814-5930
Illinois Secretary of State- Department of Business ServicesIllinois Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Whether you decide to form a corporation, Limited Liability Company or operate a partnership, the Illinois Secretary of State will register your business. Forms are available online or in person.
69 W. Washington Suite 1240 Chicago, IL 60602
Illinois Department of RevenueIllinois Department of Revenue
The Illinois Department of Revenue provides businesses with an Illinois Business Tax Number (IBT) which can be applied for online or in person. Many types of businesses may be required to register for a IBT number if the business is liable for reporting Sales and/or Use Tax, sales for resale, or withholding for Illinois employees.
100 West Randolph, 7th Floor Chicago, IL 60601
(217) 785 - 3707
Internal Revenue ServiceInternal Revenue Service, Chicago Office
Businesses are required to register as a taxpayer with the Internal Revenue Service by obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). To apply for an EIN you must complete form SS4, which can be obtained by contacting:
230 South Dearborn St. 24th Floor Chicago, IL 60604
Small Business Administration (SBA) - Chicago District OfficeThe United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government. They provide free financial assistance for new or existing businesses through guaranteed loans made by area banks and on bank lends. The SBA also provides free consulting services to businesses and assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1250 Chicago, Illinois 60661-2511
(312) 353-4528 Fax (312) 886-5688
Additional Business Development Agencies :
Accion ChicagoAccion Chicago is an alternative lending organization dedicated to providing credit and other business services to small business owners who do not have access to traditional sources of financing.
1618 W 18th Street, Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 275-3000 Fax (312) 275-3010
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber serves as the unified business voice of greater Chicago that represents your business interests at the city, county, regional and state levels.
410 N. Michigan Ave Suite #900 Chicago, IL 60611
(312)494-6700 Fax (312) 861-0660
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial CenterThe Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) is a nonprofit affiliate of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and works with high-growth entrepreneurial businesses. The CEC provides entrepreneurs with sales and client development services, financing services, strategic advisory programs, support resources and community development.
200 E. Randolph Street, Suite 2200 Chicago, IL 60601-6436
(312)494-6777 fax (312)861-0635
Chicagoland SCORESCORE association is a resource partner of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) that offers current or would be business owners the expertise of experienced business owners. They provide free individual counseling and provide workshops for a modest fee where you can learn about various aspects about opening and running a business.
500 W. Madison Street, Suite 1250 Chicago, Illinois 60661-2511
(312) 353-7724 Fax (312) 886-4879
Community Economic Development Law ProjectThe Community Economic Development Law Project provides disadvantaged communities with legal expertise for tax, corporate, real estate and finance council. The Small Business Support Program works in partnership with other nonprofit business development groups to advise low income people on how to start their own business.
100 North LaSalle Street, Suite 600 Chicago, Illinois 6060
(312) 939-3638 Fax (312) 630-1127
Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago
2010 W Fulton St # 280
Jane Adams Hull House- Small Business Development UnitThe Hull House-Small Business Development Unit provides a wide range of small business training and counseling programs to new and existing businesses and provides access to the resources needed to operate a successful venture
500 E. 67th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637
(773)955-8027 Fax (773)955-8028
North Side Uptown Center Hull House
4520 N. Beacon Chicago, Illinois 60640
(773)561-3500 Fax (773)561-3507
Small Business Development Center NetworkThe Small Business Development Center Network’s mission is to help new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership, and assist existing businesses to remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy. Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can go to their local SBDCs for free, face to-face business consulting and at-cost training on writing business plans, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, international trade and more.
To find a Small Business Development Center near you search for locations online at: www.asbdc-us.org
Wicker Park & Bucktown Chamber of Commerce
1414 N. Ashland Ave.
Women’s Business Development CenterThe Woman’s Business Development Center is a nonprofit organization that works with woman to launch new businesses and strengthen existing business in the Chicago area. Services are available in Spanish and English, and include business assessments, loan packaging, public and private sector procurement assistance, classes / workshops, and individualized counseling on all aspects of business development, management and strategy.
8 South Michigan, Suite 400 Chicago, IL 60603-3306
(312) 853-3477 Fax (312) 853-0145
World Business Chicago (WBC)WBC is a nonprofit economic development corporation, dedicated to enhancing the Chicago region’s global position as a business location. This organization can provide you with free “point of first contact” assistance for economic and industry data, site location, state and local incentives, and contacts within the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
177 N. State Street, Suite 500 Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 553-0500 Fax (312) 553-4355