Gov. Pritzker announces $245 million in grants for businesses and communities impacted by COVID-19 and civil unrest

Information provided by the Governor’s Office

CHICAGO, Ill. (September 15, 2020) – Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in the Bronzeville community Tuesday to announce the latest in a series of grants made available for small businesses in Illinois suffering losses as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as communities impacted by the recent civil unrest. Applications for the second round of the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program will be available Thursday, September 17, and will offer $220 million in funds for small businesses hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic.

The Governor also announced applications for the new Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program will become available in the coming weeks. This program will provide $25 million in funding to cover the cost of civil unrest-related repairs while also supporting new investments in economically distressed communities across Illinois.

“Support for small businesses has been one of the central features of our COVID-19 response: Helping entrepreneurs stay afloat, giving business owners the help necessary to keep the lights on and payroll flowing, is vital to preserving jobs and businesses until we get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These two new programs, combined with the first round of Business Interruption Grants, deliver nearly $300 million in aid to the very small businesses that bring jobs and vibrancy to their communities—offering them increased stability so those jobs and that vibrancy can live on.”

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Business Interruption Grants (BIG)

Earlier this year, DCEO issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity and has identified a qualified administrator to disburse the remaining funds for BIG throughout the rest of the year. Working with administrators Accion and the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), the department will take a tailored approach to processing grants in this round. Grants will range from $5,000 to $150,000, commensurate with revenue losses incurred and business size.

Eligible businesses will include for-profit and nonprofit entities with $20 million or less in annual revenue in 2019 (annualized for businesses that started after January 2019). All businesses that receive a BIG award must have experienced losses due to COVID-19 that exceed the size of the award.

PAID MESSAGE FROM AN ADVERTISING MEMBER —

BIG continues to prioritize equity by setting aside a substantial portion of funds for businesses located in economically vulnerable communities. The second round of BIG builds on over $49 million in grants awarded just last month—with initial grants allocated to approximately 2,800 businesses in 400 communities in every corner of the state. Application information for the second round of funds and can be found on DCEO’s website and the application form will open for submissions on Thursday, September 17.

The second wave of funds from BIG aims to provide relief for all types of small businesses, with a focus on businesses located downstate or in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs). The latest wave of funding includes the following provisions to ensure a wide distribution of funds geographically and across business type:

  • Heavily Impacted Industries – $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, event spaces located at banquet halls and hotels, and more.
  • Disproportionately Impacted Areas – $70 million set aside for DIAs, defined by zip codes identified by the General Assembly for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19. A map of DIAs can be accessed here.
  • Downstate Communities – DCEO has committed to ensuring that at least half of all remaining funds, totaling more than $100 million, are reserved for businesses in downstate and rural communities of Illinois.
  • Priority Businesses – Apart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, applications from the following types of businesses will be prioritized for review for remaining funds: businesses directly affected by regional mitigations implemented by the state or local governments, independently owned retail, tourism- and hospitality-related industries including accommodations, and more.
  • Agriculture – $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions.
  • Grants and Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients – As authorized by the General Assembly, DCEO will offer grants for businesses that have incurred eligible costs to offset loans received under the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan program. This round of loan forgiveness and grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset going forward as DCEO and its partners focus on making BIG awards.

Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program

DCEO will oversee the distribution of grants through the RDC program. Supported by the Rebuild Illinois capital plan, RDC funds will be made available to help businesses and economically distressed communities cover the cost of repairs already incurred, while making way for capital work to address eligible repairs or community improvements still needed in response to civil unrest. RDC funded projects may range in size from $1,000 to $200,000, based on eligibility and the extent of the damages. DCEO will prioritize contractors from minority, women, and veteran owned businesses to perform the work, and reimbursements will begin in the coming weeks for damages which have already been incurred.

Eligibility for the RDC grants requires businesses and nonprofits to demonstrate property damage as a result of civil unrest on or after May 25, 2020 and be located in economically distressed zip codes identified by DCEO as having sustained property damage due to civil unrest.

To promote equity in the program, priority for grant funding will be given to small businesses with 50 employees or fewer, women and minority-owned businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, and inherently essential businesses—like grocery stores—in economically distressed areas. DCEO has created a list of impacted zip codes to help determine eligibility of project location, found here. For businesses that have sustained property damages during civil unrest but not located in a predetermined zip code, they may work with DCEO’s administrative partners to apply and request that their zip code be added to the list of eligible zip codes.

To coordinate reimbursement and capital repairs, the State of Illinois has selected two community development organizations – the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative (CNI). LISC and CNI were selected via a competitive process and will conduct outreach, coordinate local qualified vendors to perform repairs, and provide funds to cover the cost of repairs and new building improvements for businesses in eligible communities across the state. Additionally, LISC will host the application for the grants on its website.

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