Hard-Hit Small Businesses in Kane County Eligible For $250 Million Back-To-Business Grants, Starting Aug. 18 – Kane County Connects
“The program is designated to certain areas that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and in Kane County those zones are mainly in Elgin, Carpentersville, and Aurora,” said Chris Toth, a planner for the Kane County Development & Community Services Department. “Some smaller areas of South Elgin, Batavia and Geneva are included, as well.”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Back to Business (B2B) grant program is the first in a series of economic recovery programs that 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 program builds on last year’s Business Interruption Grant program, which provided $580 million to small businesses and childcare providers across the state. Kane County businesses received about $1.2 million from the BIG grant program.
The state is also providing a $9 million investment to grow the proven community navigator program, providing a robust 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, 2021.
“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,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “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.”
To reach the businesses most in need with these funds, DCEO will work alongside more than 100 community navigators, 42 Small Business Development Center and other outreach partners who have relationships with their local business community.
“Through the new Back to Business grant program, our administration is mobilizing our share of federal recovery dollars to provide grants that will help Illinois businesses continue with reopening, bring back their staff and rebuild stronger,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “At DCEO, we have already begun to join community navigators, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, legislators and many other partners from around the state in getting the word out about the availability of critical resources for businesses still in need.”
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, 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.
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.
DCEO and its grant administrator partner, Allies for Community Business will make awards on a rolling basis, according to priority criteria mentioned above. 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 to $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.
“Throughout the pandemic, providing support to our small businesses has been a priority, starting with the BIG program last year and continuing on with the Back to Business program now,” said state Sen. Cristina Castro (D- Elgin). “I commend Gov. JB Pritzker and the hardworking folks at DCEO for helping ensure that our most vulnerable businesses bounce back and thrive as we work to recover from the last year and a half.”
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 us on social @IllinoisDCEO.