On February 29th, 2012, the City of Chicago announced the first draft of a plan to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. The plan delineates 10 long-term strategies ranging from strengthening the City’s manufacturing capacity to investing in next generation infrastructure. One strategy specifically focuses on enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship in mature and emerging sectors because current R&D spending and technology commercialization in Chicago is lower than the national level.
To promote innovation, spur R&D activities and create high-tech job opportunities, Chicago already has an established Laboratory Facilities Fund (LFF) program that was created by former Mayor Daley. The program aims to use TIF money to help develop laboratory space for new high-tech companies within certain TIF districts throughout the City. With maximum assistance of approximately $1.4 million per project and assistance distributed in a lump-sum amount upon project completion, the LFF program is designed to help new companies that develop products and processes in nanotechnology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and services, food technology, and environmental technology. Large and publicly traded companies are not eligible to apply for this assistance.
In order to be eligible for assistance under the LFF program, new high-tech companies need to meet the following major requirements:
- Demonstrate evidence that they have advanced beyond incubator or early stage development and that they require larger and more advanced lab facilities;
- Present a lease or proposed lease for at least 5 years;
- Plan to occupy lab spaces ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 square feet in existing buildings within certain TIF districts; and
- Create or retain permanent jobs in Chicago.
Eligible expenses include the construction and rehabilitation of basic lab space improvements, environmental remediation, professional fees, and up to 30% of construction loan interest.
The LFF program application form is available on the City of Chicago’s website at: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/laboratory_facilitiesfund.html