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Ordinance Makes It Easier for Entrepreneurs to Operate Home-Based Businesses in Chicago

January 25, 2021

RE: Ordinance Makes It Easier for Entrepreneurs to Operate Home-Based Businesses in Chicago 

The pandemic has cost Chicagoans jobs and recently unemployed individuals may explore starting their own business. However, these budding entrepreneurs may not have the funds to rent space.

Indeed, even more established entrepreneurs may need to consider moving their businesses into a residence for the time being given the economic impact of the pandemic. This is a crucial time for City Council to change outdated regulations that hinder an entrepreneur’s ability to own and operate a home-based business.

Alderman Gilbert Villegas has filed an ordinance that will modify restrictions on home-based businesses. These modifications will:

  • Allow entrepreneurs to use more space in their residence to operate a business;
  • Eliminate unnecessary restrictions on using garages and sheds for the business;
  • Reduce restrictions on bulk deliveries at a residence during normal business hours;
  • Increase the types of businesses which can be operated from a residence; among other revisions to the current process.

The IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School and Small Business Advocacy Council have worked with Alderman Villegas to craft this important ordinance.

"Last month the United States experienced the second largest economic downfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic𑁋once more highlighting the need to provide much needed support that reflects the current challenges faced by the small business community. The collaborative efforts outlined in this ordinance represent the first step towards providing that support while rebuilding the economy," said Alderman Gilbert Villegas.

SBAC President Elliot Richardson added, “Passing this ordinance will help unleash Chicago entrepreneurs who want to launch and grow a business from home. These home-based businesses may grow into major job creators for the City. Given the pandemic’s devastating impact on many Chicagoans and local economies, there has never been a more important time to support budding entrepreneurs in Chicago. We thank Alderman Villegas for leading on this important issue.”

IJ Clinic Policy Fellow Selecca Bulgar-Medina added, "To jumpstart Chicago’s economy in the pandemic, the City must allow people to start and run businesses from where they are - for many of us, that means home. Home-based businesses are the most accessible avenue to entrepreneurship for people of all socio-economic backgrounds and passing this ordinance will empower Chicagoans to create their own economic opportunities. We thank Alderman Villegas for his leadership on this issue."

Please reach out to Patti Zikmund at or Elliot Richardson at for more information or with questions.

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