Information on Business Relief

Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG)
The first round of the new business interruption grants program, known as “BIG,” will make $60 million available for 3,500 businesses that experienced losses or business interruption because they closed or severely restricted their operations as a result of COVID-19. Businesses eligible for BIG include restaurants and bars; barbershops and salons; health and fitness centers; as well as businesses located in DIAs which have had reports of recent property damage due to civil unrest.

Businesses prioritized for this first wave of funding must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by losses in excess of the grant amount since March, caused by following the public health guidance to limit their operations. Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020.
Grants will be made available for small businesses in amounts ranging between $10,000-$20,000, depending on business type and other eligibility criteria. A full list of criteria as well as the application can be found on DCEO’s website. Businesses and community partners can assess their eligibility and gather any documents needed to complete the application before it opens for submission on Friday, June 26th at 9:00am. All applications must be submitted by Monday, July 7th at 5:00pm.

BIG grants give businesses access to funds that will help accelerate reopening or expanding capacity, including assisting with purchase of technology, PPE or other equipment necessary to comply with new public health guidelines related to COVID-19. Funds may be used to help businesses cover the costs payroll, rent, utilities and other working capital during the time businesses have experienced interruptions due to COVID.

All grant categories feature dedicated set asides for businesses located in DIAs, based on a statutory mandate to release a minimum of 30 percent of BIG funds to DIAs throughout Illinois. Disproportionately impacted areas are low-income zip codes that have had a significant number of cases of COVID 19 among residents. For more information on determining eligibility or to see if your business is located in a DIA, visit DCEO’s website.

To ensure first round funds are disbursed quickly and carefully, DCEO will involve community-based financial institutions with experience administering grant programs throughout the state, especially in the communities designated as disproportionately impacted areas.  Similar to other COVID-19 emergency assistance programs, these CDFIs will review applications and administer funds, with funds targeted for release beginning in mid-July. Eligible businesses will be selected via a lottery process.

This $60 million funding round represents the first wave of the BIG program, which in total will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been set aside for childcare providers. The Department will issue a NOFO at a later date to seek qualified partner(s) in assisting with administering future phases of the BIG program to small businesses. DCEO’s grants will complement ongoing efforts by DHS to administer BIG grants earmarked specifically for childcare centers.

To ensure that businesses are prepared to take advantage of these resources, DCEO will leverage its statewide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) as well as other community partners to conduct outreach to business owners eligible for BIG assistance. This outreach to small businesses and communities will prioritize ensuring diversity and inclusion of minority owned businesses in this first round of funds, as well as future rounds of funding.

Distressed Capital Program
The second program, Rebuild Distressed Communities, is a $25 million economic recovery program to support Illinois businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest during protest and demonstrations on or after May 25th, 2020. The Distressed Capital Program will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.

The Distressed Capital Program will specifically help businesses located in DIAs and will prioritize small businesses, women and minority-owned businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, businesses that have a high community impact – such as grocery stores – and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment. The Distressed Capital Program also includes provisions to encourage BEP contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, are the first in line to do the repair work.

DCEO is issuing a NOFO to identify an administrator or administrators to oversee the provision of funding to reimburse the costs of repairs already undertaken and cover future repairs for eligible businesses damaged as a result of civil unrest. More information about eligibility and documentation required to apply can be found in the NOFO posted on DCEO’s website.
DCEO will conduct a series of webinars and outreach to businesses in the coming weeks. For a list of upcoming webinars and to receive regular updates on grants and business assistance programs, please visit DCEO’s website of follow us on social at @IllinoisDCEO.

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