Pritzker announces $46 million in first wave of grants for small businesses

State News

CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives a COVID-19 update and announces a new wave of grants aiming to help businesses affected most by the virus.

Pritzker launched the first $46 million of an initiative called Business Interruption Grants (BIG). Pritzker said the grants are designed to help more than 2,600 small businesses in over 400 cities and towns across the state. Each grant will range from $10,000 — $20,000.

The grants are focused on small businesses that suffered the most under the pandemic, especially those that were shut down in the spring or were in areas where civil unrest and looting took place.

Pritzker expects the BIG program to support thousands of small businesses and said the program will set aside funds for child care providers, which he called “an essential underpinning of our workforce for countless working families.”

“The federal PPP program seems to have overlooked too many entrepreneurs and small shops, and it was important to me and to the General Assembly to ensure that small businesses, which employ the largest number of people in Illinois, get the help that they need,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said his administration worked with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to make sure funds were delivered to small businesses that needed it the most.

DCEO Director Michael Negron said he was excited to announce the first wave of grants. He said equity was a central focus of the program.

“Half of the businesses receiving awards today in this round are minority-owned,” Negron said.

“More than $24 million in grants will benefit businesses in zip codes that have been disproportionally hit hard by this pandemic. Overall, this round of BIG grants will support businesses across 400 communities, from Springfield to Schaumburg, Peoria, and Rockford, Aurora, from Chicago, and down to Carbondale, but we know that there are thousands more that still need help.”

DCEO is working with the governor’s administration to finalize plans for additional rounds of grants for businesses like restaurants and retailers. Negron said the next wave will also target industries that may not return to normal for many months, like performing arts or live music venues, movie theaters, indoor recreational facilities, and more.

Applications for the next wave of grants are expected to be released soon. Those interested can learn more about them at the DCEO’s website. DCEO is also making a $1 million investment to increase outreach in minority communities to have access to these programs.

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