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Gov. Pritzker announces $250M Back To Business grant program to accelerate small business recovery

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced the $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program to support the continued recovery of small businesses across Illinois. 

B2B is tintended to offer small businesses access to funds that can help offset losses due to COVID-19, bring back workers and take continued steps to rebuild amid the fallout from the pandemic. The program builds on last year’s Business Interruption Grant program, which provided $580 million to small businesses and childcare providers across the state.

The state also is providing a $9 million investment to grow the proven community navigator program, providing a network of community organizations to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance in the hardest hit communities. DCEO and community navigators will begin working immediately to provide businesses with information on required steps to apply, allowing them time to prepare before the application formally opens on Aug. 18.

To reach the businesses most in need with these funds, DCEO will work alongside over 100 community navigators, 42 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and other outreach partners who have relationships with their local business community.

While many business types and industries may apply, businesses in the following industries will be given priority status for grants: restaurants and taverns; hotels; arts businesses and organizations; and more. Additionally, businesses located within Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs), as defined in statute, will be prioritized.

To reach the most vulnerable businesses, the State of Illinois has invested in an expansive outreach support infrastructure including language support, gathering documents, and completing the application.

The community navigator approach has been recognized by the Biden-Harris administration as a national model, and it follows on investments made by State during the pandemic through the Small Business Development Centers and other community partners providing no-cost technical assistance to businesses in need. 

DCEO and its grant administrator partner, Allies for Community Business (A4CB) will make awards on a rolling basis, according to priority criteria mentioned above. Additionally, businesses with revenues of $5 million or less as well as those who did not receive an award during the Business Interruption Grant program will receive preference during the review period, with $25 million set aside for businesses which applied but did not receive funding through that program. To help businesses with ease of applying, A4CB has launched a new and easy-to-use customer portal, allowing applicants to track and learn updates on their application status in real-time.

B2B seeks to restore operational losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide grants ranging in size from $5,000 to $150,000, commensurate with the amount of losses experienced. To be considered for a grant, applicants must demonstrate a reduction in revenue in 2020 as compared with 2019, and annual revenues of no more than $20 million in 2019.  Businesses also must provide two bank statements, a business owner ID, and federal tax returns for 2019 and 2020.

For more information on B2B, how to apply and where to access small business assistance, please visit dceo.illinois.gov. DCEO and partner organizations will hold webinars over the next several weeks to provide virtual technical assistance on demand. To receive regular updates on economic recovery programs, capital assistance and other economic development programs, subscribe to the DCEO newsletter, or follow us on social @IllinoisDCEO.

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