Cook County Provides $1 Million to Southland Development Authority’s Stimulus Program to Assist South Suburban Businesses Hit by the Pandemic


(East Hazel Crest, Ill,–Dec. 3, 2020) Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development today announced a $1 million award to the Southland Development Authority as part of the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance program to provide South Suburban businesses impacted by the pandemic with critical supports through mentorship, business advising, and educational resources.

In its first year, the Southland Development Authority has provided more than 250 businesses with customized supports and tailored consulting services. It connects companies with industry experts in e-commerce, marketing, finance, supply chains, and related fields to help them find ways to strengthen their resiliency.

“The Southland Development Authority quickly developed a robust program to meet the immediate needs of businesses during this challenging time, and we are thrilled to provide this critical support,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Although only operating for a year, the Authority’s work illustrates that it provides effective and strategic support for the South Suburbs of Cook County.”

The funds are part of Cook County’s $82 million relief Community Recovery Initiative to help communities and businesses impacted by COVID-19.  The Southland Development Authority will use this funding to contribute to its Equitable Recovery Stimulus Program.  Through a network of collaborators, the program conducts outreach to business owners. It matches firms with tailored consulting services from experts in their industry and is designed to save and grow as many businesses as possible in ways that drive long-term inclusive economic growth.  

Partners include Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), Chicago TREND, the Chicago Food and Beverage Network, Black Contractors, Owners & Executive (BCOE), and mHub.

The Southland Development Authoritys efforts are ongoing. They continue to assist businesses, focusing on companies that can drive job creation and economic activity in Southland communities that have suffered most from longstanding disinvestment. Prioritized businesses include:

  • firms owned by people of color
  • companies in critical sectors, such as food manufacturing; metals, machinery and equipment; and transportation, distribution, and logistics
  • firms with high-growth potential; and 
  • providers of essential neighborhood amenities, such as restaurants and health centers.

The Stimulus Program also provides customized, industry-specific guidance and advising through pairing business clients with mentors and offers the following:

  • assistance with applying for grants from Cook County, the State of Illinois, and others
  • securing short-term emergency funding
  • creating and executing re-opening plans
  • strategically pivoting a firm’s operations through new business plans, products, and marketing efforts, and
  • helping secure financial resources to implement the new strategies.


Success stories through the Southland Development Authority

 Ollie Williams, who owns D.A.’s Deli and Dining in Calumet City with his wife, Angelique, said the business relief funds that he accessed with the help of the Authority kept their business afloat. 

“There are many grants out there that we had no idea about,” Williams said. “We were trying to take care of staff when COVID-19 hit. The Authority was instrumental in letting us know what was available and helping us secure much-needed funding.” 

And a grant received through the Authority also helped Poppin Plates LLC in Park Forest begin its expansion and attract more clients to its test kitchen and food services incubator, said company president and owner Fershawnda Green. 

“I’m getting ready to build out two manufacturing kitchens, one for beverages and one for food,” Green said. “Working with the Southland Development Authority gives me exposure to reach more people and helps me stay in the know.” 

In addition to significant support from Cook County, The Chicago Community Trust and AT&T are among the organizations that have provided funds to the Authority to provide needed business assistance. As a result, current programs and partnerships are scaling up, laying the foundation for continued revitalization, Authority leaders say.

“The pandemic highlights the ways the Southland Development Authority can quickly meet the needs of business in the South Suburbs,” said Diane Williams, co-chair of the Southland Development Authority’s board of directors. “We are grateful for this support from the County, and we will ensure that these funds help position our businesses for success in the years, not just months, to come.”


About the Southland Development Authority

The Southland Development Authority is a non-profit business organization designed to grow the economy of the South Suburbs. Launched in 2019 by business, civic and political leaders across the Southland, SDA brings the resources and capacity necessary to achieve transformative and inclusive economic growth for the region. It focuses on investment in industry, workforce, housing, and communities.


Media contact:
David Rudd