ILLINOIS — One month after awarding nearly $50 million to Illinois businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials are set to open a second round of funding this week.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will begin accepting applications Thursday afternoon for the $220 million second round of funding from its Business Interruption Grant program.
The second round of BIG funding will include $70 million in grants for businesses in areas disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and $60 million for “heavily distressed” businesses, like movie theaters and entertainment venues.
State officials have also earmarked $60 million for “priority businesses” that faced additional coronavirus mitigations implemented by state or local authorities, as well as independently owned retail stores, and tourism- and hospitality-related businesses.
The program is set to provide $5 million in grants to help farmers offset livestock production disruptions, with more than $100 million expected to support businesses in downstate and rural communities, according to officials.
Starting Thursday, Illinois businesses and nonprofits can apply online for grants between $5,000 and $150,000 if they had revenues of $20 million or less in 2019. Businesses must demonstrate they have lost revenues or incurred increased costs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Private clubs, payday lenders and businesses that earn at least one-third of their revenue from legal gambling activities do not qualify for BIG grants. Businesses are also ineligible if they did not follow public health mandates, according to the program’s rules.
The state established the BIG program in June by setting aside about $270 million to support businesses whose operations were severely limited or were closed due to public health mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During its first round of funding in August, the program distributed $49 million to nearly 2,800 businesses across 78 counties, according to DCEO officials.
The average BIG grant was about $17,000, with a majority of the funding used to bolster businesses in economically distressed areas. More than half of all grants distributed in the first round of funding went to minority-owned businesses, officials said.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is also set to launch a $25 million program to reimburse businesses and nonprofits in economically distressed communities for repairs they made in the wake of protests and damage during civil unrest.
The Rebuild Distressed Communities program is set to provide funding between $1,000 and $200,000 for repair projects. DCEO officials said they will prioritize contractors owned by women, veterans and members of minority communities to perform repairs.
The DCEO will also prioritize funding repair projects for companies and organizations with no more than 50 employees, women- and minority-owned businesses, and “inherently essential” businesses in economically distressed areas, like grocery stores.
Businesses and nonprofits must show they sustained property damage on or after May 25 and be located in economically distressed ZIP codes, as identified by DCEO officials.