Much Shelist principal Steven L. DeGraff and the firm are doing what they can to help their clients and the city of Chicago during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Chicago is a resilient town,” he said. “We’ll always bounce back.”
DeGraff and Much Shelist are helping the city find its foothold by donating $25,000 to the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund, an initiative created by the city to assist local business crippled by the crisis. DeGraff was watching Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s March 19 press conference announcing the fund and the firm was ready to donate. The fund will provide “low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses… targeting historically under-resourced communities with an emphasis on minimizing hardship for those businesses and their employees,” according to a news release issued by the city of Chicago.
“It resonated with me and the firm,” DeGraff said. “We care deeply about Chicago.”
The Resiliency Loan Fund is a public-private partnership that leverages a $25 million grant from the city, $50 million in capital by the Chicago Community Catalyst Fund, $10 million from Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group, $1 million from Fifth Third Bank and $250,000 from Clayco. The remaining $15 million will come from more private funding sources like Much Shelist.
“We are passionate about supporting the survival of these businesses – many of whom are our long-standing clients, friends and partners,” Much Shelist Managing Partner Mitchell S. Roth said in a news release. “We view it as our responsibility to partner with the Chicago community and participate in Mayor Lightfoot’s initiative.”
After the mayor’s press conference, Much Shelist called Lightfoot senior advisor Rob Fojtik to get the ball rolling for the firm’s donation. DeGraff said Fojtik was stunned at the quick response the fund received.
“They couldn’t believe how fast to the punch we were,” DeGraff said.
DeGraff notes that Much Shelist has a large hospitality client base, including restaurateurs, bar owners and the trickle down to landlords and banks. He said it touches the mid-size firm’s “clients and everyone in between.”
“We represent many local restaurant operators. They’ve been completely devastated by this. The impact is untold,” DeGraff said. “From all the workers to all the people who bring you a meal every day, you don’t know how it impacts them.”
“This is at the heart of what we do and the businesses we work with it. This was a no-brainer for the city and all the facets of the city.”
Much Shelist has had an office in Chicago for 50 years and DeGraff said the firm wanted to be a leader in the community during this especially challenging and confusing time.
“We wanted to be at the front of that and we encourage all law firms to join,” he said.