Peoria Heights offering businesses a $5,000 relief grant as COVID-19 surges

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PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — A new opportunity is now available for business owners within the village of Peoria Heights.

A grant is available for restaurants, bars, and shop owners to apply for help in keeping their doors open during the winter months of the pandemic.

Businesses who are eligible can receive a one-time grant worth up $5,000. The village in total receiving $250,000 to give out to local bars and shops.

Restaurants like Hearth are facing tighter mitigations as COVID-19 surges into the winter months. Owner of Hearth Hugh Higgins said he has already started the application process.

“We had to cut lunch service entirely, it’s just not profitable enough so we’re doing dinner for carryout Tuesday-Saturday,” Higgins said.

Higgins said December is a month he usually looks forward to but is now facing a near repeat of the spring months on the pandemic.

“In the month of April alone, our business was down 54 percent,” Higgins said.

Higgins said being a fine-dining restaurant already has its limitations and is thankful for his loyal customers, but relying on pick-up orders isn’t enough.

“I spent a good part of my morning calling different parties–a group of 25, group of 10, group 16 saying we cant serve you inside,” Higgins said.

The money is from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). It’s up to business owners to apply through the village. Village Administrator Dustin Sutton said 15 businesses have already applied.

“This is not something we just look at and approve, we have to meet all the criteria,” Sutton said.

Sutton says businesses must be up to date on their taxes and show at least one month between March and October where business was down at least 25 percent.

“We applied and our main goal is to do everything we can to assist businesses during the winter months and these trying times,” Sutton said.

Sutton says right now the village has already received 15 applications for the DCEO grant and the deadline to apply is December 15th.

Applications for the grant are available on the village’s website.

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