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Illinois Rolls Out Grant Program for Small Businesses

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The first round of BIG provided a $49 million boost for businesses at every corner of Illinois.

Illinois has rolled out the Business Interruption Grant (BIG), a $636 million program to provide economic relief for small businesses effected by COVID-19.

Related: 2019 Successful Hands Grant Program Winners Announced

BIG, developed by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly, debuted its first round in August 2020 which provided funds for restaurants, gyms and businesses located in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIA). BIG helped roughly 2,800 businesses across 400 towns and cities, and in 78 counties throughout Illinois. Grants averaged $17,000 with a total of $49 million provided. 

The second round, which has $220 million available, is for small businesses with a focus on those in DIA or businesses that have been unable to reopen or operating at a severely diminished capacity. Applications for the second rounds are available here.

Grants may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including: payroll costs, rent, utilities, and other operational costs.

The second round has guidelines to insure equal distribution of grants. These include:

  • $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, and more.
  •  $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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions. 
  • 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.

During the second round, DCEO is partnering with community navigator organizations focused on helping minority-owned businesses receive assistance necessary to apply and access available funding.

Webinars are available for assistance through the process. 

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