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Chicago Tribune: Coronavirus crisis creating chaos, opportunity for entrepreneurs trying to break in

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

To break into the legal cannabis industry in Illinois, Anton Seals Jr. and eight of his friends scraped together their personal savings to submit applications for business licenses.

Even with discounts as social equity applicants from Chicago’s South and West sides, the nonrefundable application fees alone ran $2,500 per license, or $27,500 for 11 licenses. If they win the competitive process, they’ll have to come up with millions of dollars more to build and operate those dispensary, craft grower and infuser businesses.

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the economy into turmoil, investment funding, already difficult to access for minorities in the white ownership-dominated state cannabis industry, has tightened up even more.

“In this time, it becomes an even more risky proposition for a family member to say I’m going to give you $5,000 to invest when I don’t know what’s going on in the world,” Seals Jr. said. “Many black entrepreneurs don’t have the family and friends network for that.”

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