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EVANSTON, IL — Nearly half of the quarter-billion dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated to Illinois' Back to Business grant program have been distributed, state officials announced.
The Back to Business, or B2B, program has provided 2,913 grants totaling more than $111 million to small businesses located in Evanston and more than 300 other towns across Illinois since the first round of grantees was announced in September.
Grants range from $5,000 to $150,000, depending on the degree of financial loss experienced by qualifying businesses.
Applications closed in October, but state officials will keep notifying businesses of the status of their applications until the rest of the $250 million in funds is depleted, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
"As of this week, we have provided nearly 3,000 small businesses with grants to cover their operating losses due to the pandemic," Sylvia Garcia, acting director of the commerce department, said in a statement. "We will continue to process applications on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded, delivering recovery dollars as quickly as possible to communities across Illinois and reinvigorating our economy."
Nineteen Evanston businesses had been awarded grants totaling nearly $1.25 million as of Thursday. They include:
Bat 17, $150,000
The Barn Steakhouse, $110,000
Hannah Handmade, $70,000
Stitely Entertainment, $50,000
Lock Chicago, $40,000
Moshman Productions, $30,000
Dave's Italian Kitchen, $25,000
Edzo's Burger Shop, $25,000
Chicago Ballet Arts, $15,000
Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins owned by Kardo 3, $15,000
Dunkin Donuts owned by Kardo 6, $15,000
Ash Luna, $10,000
Evanston Woman Magazine, $10,000
Joe's Hair Salon, $10,000
Open Studio Project, $10,000
In the Realm of Senses, $5,000
Open Lake & Landscape Studio, $5,000
Youth Chorus of the North Shore, $5,000
Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, the $1.9 trillion economic relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.
According to the Pritzker administration, it builds on the 2020 Business Interruption Grant program, or BIG, which distributed $580 million to small businesses and childcare providers.
Among recipients of the B2B grants, 43 percent are businesses that applied to the BIG program but did not receive funding. Hard-hit industries such as taverns, hotels, arts organizations and salons accounted for 71 percent of grants, with 79 percent going to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenues.
Pritzker has leveraged $1.5 billion in federal ARPA funds during the current fiscal year to invest in the businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to his office.
"The men and women of the General Assembly worked with me to craft the Back to Business program," Pritzker said in a statement. "These are not loans, so businesses getting help won't owe a cent back to the state."