According to The Chicago Sun-Time, Lightfoot explained on Monday that she is “very serious” about the city growing its own recreational marijuana and she wants people of color to have a chance to learn the business and share the wealth.
Lightfoot said that up to $15 million generated by tax-increment financing could act as the seed money for a “cooperative cultivation center” that residents of color could “buy into” — either with a “modest cash investment” or with “sweat equity.” She said that the plan is intended to overcome the biggest impediment to minority ownership: access to capital.
“This is a very, very expensive business to get involved with. The basics to be a cultivator requires about a $13 million to $15 million investment. There are not a lot of people that have that, particularly in a market that a lot of banks and traditional lenders won’t touch,” she said. “I think the only way to really crack this nut is for the city to invest its own resources to get engaged, get diverse entrepreneurs involved in the most lucrative part of the business, which is cultivation.”
Along with the TIF money, Lightfoot said the $15 million can come from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and Catalyst Funds, which was created by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It uses funds generated by developers. In order to build taller and bigger buildings in a broader downtown area, these developers contribute to a fund that is then used to rebuild long-neglected neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides.