Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer Andrea Zopp joined ABC7 News This Morning to talk about the new plan.
The city awarded about $5 million in grants to entrepreneurs and small business owners to help re-energize retail strips in neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West sides, so that the economic growth seen downtown is shared at the neighborhood level, Zopp said.
These economic centers in Austin, Back of the Yards, Bronzeville, Chatham, Englewood, South Shore, West Humboldt Park and West Pullman saw significant commercial activity in the past, but it died down over time.
This money is meant to help business owners expand and renovate their spaces, create new jobs, drive retail activity back to these areas and strengthen the entire neighborhood, Zopp said.
These businesses include neighborhood grocery stores, barber shops, restaurants, beauty supply stores and fashion boutiques that are already in operation.
For more information and to see a complete list of awardees, visit: www.ThriveZones.com.
"This grant means it is going open up a door, an avenue for me not to have to use my own money or not to have beg someone to give me a loan to rehab this property," said Letrusia May, L. May Creations.
"The whole driving force was you didn't want one business over here and drive six or seven blocks to another business - but to create exactly what it is called a retail thrive zone. So you have a coffee shop, next to a sandwich shop, next to a grocery store, next to a barbershop," said Emanuel.
When Shawnie Jones found out she was awarded a grant to open a sports bar in the Austin neighborhood, she was speechless.
"For me to have a business for the community, hire in the community and to have something for my children," she said.
Those who live in these communities hope the new development brings down crime.
"If you bring back some businesses, I am pretty sure there will be some jobs, some opportunities for people to work," said Darriel Hurd, of Austin.
The mayor says it will take residents shopping and eating at the new businesses for the program to thrive.
'Don't say, 'I want to see, I want an investment in my neighborhood,' and drive by the neighborhood investment," he said.