Illinois unveils $250M grant program to help small businesses


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Small business owners in Illinois could soon apply for a new grant program to help those hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pritzker administration announced a new $250 million Back to Business (B2B) recovery program Wednesday.

Gov. JB Pritzker explained business owners could receive $5,000-$150,000 depending on their financial loss. Pritzker says owners can use grants to hire back staff, cover operating costs, and rebuild their businesses.

The state is prioritizing grants for small businesses, restaurants, and arts organizations, and hotels in disproportionately impacted areas. Pritzker also explained owners who didn’t receive Business Interruption grants will receive preference as well. The governor noted BIG grants helped over 9,000 small businesses in over 600 communities in 2020.

“The Back to Business grants will provide capital for some businesses and a lifeline for others,” Pritzker said.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is partnering with over 100 community navigators for this program. They’re also teaming up with 42 small business development centers and other outreach groups to help spread the word. Illinois put $9 million towards improving the navigator program in the communities hardest hit during the pandemic.

Ready to help businesses apply

State officials and community partners can help business owners with gathering documents, language support, and completing their applications. The B2B application opens on August 18.

“To make sure everyone has time to ask questions and get all their application materials in order, we’re announcing this program this week,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting DCEO Director. “A week out, so that folks can work with their local partners and start gathering the materials they need to put together their application.”

Applicants must show a loss of revenue in 2020 compared to 2019 and have annual revenues less than $20 million. The state is also asking business owners to provide two bank statements, an ID, and federal tax returns for 2019 and 2020.

“Small businesses are vital to our economy,” said Senate President Don Harmon. “And they were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. I am hopeful that this investment will help them recover and thrive in the years to come.”

You can find more information about the grants and how to apply by clicking here.

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