Illinois policymakers need to give small businesses rescue plan money

Illinois policymakers need to give small businesses rescue plan money

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Elliot Richardson, president of the Illinois Small Business Advocacy Council

Illinois received over $8 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the federal government. However, policymakers have allocated only $250 million for Back to Business grants to help struggling small businesses. Over $5.5 billion federal dollars remain unspent. Considering the critical role small businesses play in our economy, those figures are stunning.

The small business community needed much more support prior to the emergence of the Delta variant, which is causing further economic concern and uncertainty. Given the resurgence of the pandemic, allocating additional funds for Illinois Back to Business grants is critical.

Here’s what’s wrong with allocating only $250 million for the Back to Business grant program: Many struggling businesses will likely be denied grants. While they will qualify and deserve the funds, the program will run out of money. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has been charged with the regrettable task of picking winners and losers from grant applicants. In some cases, these grants may determine whether some businesses can keep their doors open and others must permanently close.

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