On a block of South Hermitage Avenue on Chicago’s South Side, rows of crenelated brick apartment buildings stand behind low iron fences and tidy lawns. It’s a residential street like thousands of others across the country, home to nurses, computer techs, hairdressers and retirees.
But if records from the Small Business Administration are to be believed, this block is also a bustling commercial hub. One man claims to employ at least 10 people in his apartment on one floor of a two-flat. Next door, an occupant of a handsome three-story with limestone quoins does the same. Ditto for a couple of her neighbors across the street. In all, the block, lacking so much as a single storefront or neon sign, contains 18 businesses employing at least 10 people each, according to the SBA. In June and July, all 18 were approved for $10,000 pandemic-relief grants.