Gov. Pritzker: Over $111 million distributed to businesses in COVID relief funds

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 3:32 PM CST
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CHICAGO, Ill. (KFVS) - Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced today that over $111 million in relief funds have been distributed to businesses.

Pritzker said this is a key milestone in accelerating small business recovery through the Back to Business program (B2B).

Since the program’s first round of grantees last September, 2,913 grants totaling more than $111 million have been provided to small businesses in over 300 cities across the state, with almost eighty percent of awards delivered to businesses in disproportionately impacted communities and hard-hit industries.

“These grants are successfully helping the small businesses that are cornerstones in our communities sustain and grow,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “Our administration is fully committed to stepping up for small businesses, providing them the resources needed to continue being a pathway of opportunity for entrepreneurs and jobs throughout Illinois.”

In total, the B2B grant program will award $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to help small businesses rehire staff, cover operating costs and afford additional customer safety precautions.

Grants will continue to be awarded to applicants on a rolling basis until the full $250 million is allocated.

The awarded dollars will range in size from $5,000 to $150,000, based on the losses each business experienced during the pandemic.

A list of grantees can be found here.

The latest wave of B2B grants prioritizes businesses most in need of support due to the pandemic, including hotels, restaurants, arts and cultural organizations, barbershops and salons, dry cleaners, and fitness centers.

It also makes allocations for disproportionately impacted areas and businesses who applied for business interruption grants in 2021 but did not receive funding.

On average, recipients of B2B grants experienced revenue declines of 41% throughout the pandemic.

The breakdown of the grants made thus far includes:

  • 43% to businesses which applied to the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program last year but did not receive funding.
  • 79% to businesses in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), or low-income zip codes that experienced high rates of COVID-19.
  • 71% to hard-hit industries, including restaurants and taverns, hotels, arts organizations, and salons.

Grants have primarily gone to the smallest businesses:

  • 62% going to businesses with revenue under $500,000 in 2019.
  • 79% going to businesses with revenue under $1 million.

Of the B2B grants deployed so far, more than half of grants have gone to businesses owned by people of color.

This includes 25% of grants to Asian American or Pacific Islander-owned businesses, 17% to Black-owned businesses, and 13% to Latinx-owned businesses.

“During the pandemic, I got creative and innovative and adjusted my business operations in order to continue to provide the community the coffee and food they love,” said Trez Pugh, owner of Sip & Savor in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. “Receiving the B2B grant allowed me to continue to pay my employees and assist the business in inventory purchases to sustain operations.

To ensure B2B grants reach businesses most in need, DCEO launched a community navigator program that leveraged the support of over 100 trusted, local organizations to connect with businesses owned by people of color in hard-hit areas, rural communities, and other hard-to-reach populations.

In addition to releasing a new, easy-to-use applicant portal, the program worked to remove other barriers to application, including providing language support, assistance gathering documents, and guidance while completing the application.

To date, DCEO, partners in the state legislature, community navigators, and Small Business Development Centers have conducted outreach to a total of 120,000 unique businesses and hosted more than 500 events to provide information and application assistance.

The application window for this program closed on October 13, 2021. Businesses who applied before the deadline can use the program’s online portal to track their application status in real-time.

“We are very thankful for the B2B grant we received, the grant has helped our business weather this pandemic storm, to provide our customers with service, and our employees their jobs,” said Tim Kavanaugh, owner of Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Bar and Grill in Rock Island, Ill.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the Pritzker administration has focused on deploying assistance to Illinois’ hardest-hit businesses and communities, with DCEO providing over $1 billion in relief across the state in fiscal year 2021.

B2B builds on the success of 2021′s Business Interruption Grant (BIG) emergency relief program, which provided $290 million to more than 9,000 small businesses in 98 counties statewide.

For more information on the B2B program, please visit DCEO’s website.

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