$250M grant program for small business recovery

$250M grant program for small business recovery


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) – Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program to support the continued recovery of small businesses across Illinois.

B2B will offer small businesses access to funds that can help offset losses due to COVID-19, bring back workers, and take continued steps to rebuild amid the fallout from the pandemic. The state is also providing a $9 million investment to grow the proven community navigator program, providing a network of community organizations to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance in the hardest hit communities.

DCEO and community navigators will immediately begin working to provide businesses with information on required steps to apply, allowing them time to prepare before the application formally opens on Aug. 18.

“Today, in partnership with the General Assembly, I’m taking another step to stimulate economic growth, jobs, and new opportunity for the people of Illinois,” Gov. Pritzker said. “Further accelerating our economic recovery, we are announcing $250 million in Back to Business grants to help small businesses all across Illinois hire back staff and cover operating costs. Small businesses are the backbone of Illinois’ economy, collectively representing the largest number of jobs in Illinois and the largest job creators. And here in Illinois, they’re also the cornerstone of our recovery.”

DCEO is making $250 million available for small businesses across the state experiencing significant losses due to COVID-19. To reach the businesses most in need with these funds, DCEO will work alongside over 100 community navigators, 42 Small Business Development Center (SBDCs) and other outreach partners who have relationships with their local business community.

While many business types and industries may apply, businesses in the following industries will be given priority status for grants: restaurants and taverns; hotels; arts businesses and organizations; and more. Additionally, businesses located within Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs), as defined in statute, will be prioritized.

“To reach the most vulnerable businesses, the State of Illinois has invested in an expansive outreach support infrastructure – grounded by a $9 million investment to grow the proven community navigator program. DCEO and partners will conduct outreach and mobilize resources to remove any barriers that they may face to applying – including language support, gathering documents, and completing the application – these partners will deliver the technical assistance needed to help small, under resourced businesses claim available ARPA funds,” according to the announcement on Wednesday.

The community navigator approach has been recognized by the Biden-Harris administration as a national model, and it follows on investments made by State during the pandemic through the Small Business Development Centers and other community partners providing no-cost technical assistance to businesses in need. To find a community navigator near you, visit here.

DCEO and its grant administrator partner, Allies for Community Business (A4CB) will make awards on a rolling basis, according to priority criteria. Additionally, businesses with revenues of $5 million or less as well as those who did not receive an award during the Business Interruption Grant program will receive preference during the review period, with $25 million set aside for businesses which applied but did not receive funding through that program.

To help businesses with ease of applying, A4CB has launched a new and easy-to-use customer portal, allowing applicants to track and learn updates on their application status in real-time.

B2B seeks to restore operational losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide grants ranging in size from $5,000-$150,000, commensurate with the amount of losses experienced. To be considered for a grant, applicants must demonstrate a reduction in revenue in 2020 as compared with 2019, and annual revenues of no more than $20 million in 2019.  Businesses must also provide two bank statements, a business owner ID, and federal tax returns for 2019 and 2020.

For more information on B2B, how to apply and where to access small business assistance, visit dceo.illinois.gov. DCEO and partner organizations will hold webinars over the next several weeks to provide virtual technical assistance on demand. To receive regular updates on economic recovery programs, capital assistance and other economic development programs, subscribe to the DCEO newsletter, or follow on social @IllinoisDCEO.

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