$220 Million Available for Business Owners through Second Round of the Business Interruption Grants
CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today in announcing 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. Applications for the second round of the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program will be made available the afternoon of September 17, 2020, and will offer $220 million in funds for small businesses hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic.
“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.
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 at Illinois.gov/dceo and the application form will open for submissions later this week.
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.
While the first round of funds has helped 2,800 businesses in 78 counties across the state make ends meet, an additional $200 million in BIG grants will help ensure that even more businesses across our state have a shot at unlocking funds that will help them pay the rent, the payroll and other costs to help them safely reopen and regain their livelihoods.
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.
“Over the past six months, our Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has heard from hundreds of business owners who have suffered significant financial losses due to COVID-19. Many who have received emergency assistance have found that they still need additional support to keep their businesses afloat and to continue to provide jobs and goods and services in their communities,” said Karen Freeman Wilson, CEO of the Chicago Urban League. “These programs offer a real opportunity for businesses and communities to recover. We are pleased to continue working with Governor Pritzker and his team to help distribute grants to small business owners, as well as to provide business coaching, mentorship, and technical assistance where it is needed.”
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.
For more information on programs available for businesses and communities, please visit DCEO’s website.