CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- With stricter COVID-19 mitigation measures in effect throughout Illinois, Governor Pritzker is urging small businesses to take advantage of new financial aid.
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced Thursday the release of $94 million in emergency relief funds for communities and small businesses statewide.
It is part of the second round of Business Interruption Grants, or BIG, which Governor Pritzker said will help offset the financial impact of COVID-19.
"It is an exceptionally hard time, but we hope these grants are able to keep these businesses going," Pritzker said.
According to the Governor's Office, more than $46 million in small business grants through the historic Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program will provide relief to offset COVID-19 related costs for over 1,200 businesses in all corners of the state. Additionally, over $48 million in local CURE funding has been issued to 163 local governments submitting eligible emergency costs for reimbursement.
"Already, we've been able to help 1,200 businesses in this second round of Business Interruption Grants, totaling $46 million in funding for more than 340 communities in 79 counties statewide - including $19.5 million for restaurants and bars alone. That builds on our first round of Business Interruption Grants - $49 million to more than 2,800 businesses in over 400 cities and towns across 78 of our 102 counties," said Governor JB Pritzker, in a statement. "This support is but one portion of the $1 billion in economic relief for business owners and communities that my Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has deployed in response to this pandemic - while simultaneously calling on the federal government to deliver more for Americans in every state, because this is not a crisis we can weather alone."
These latest funds reflect the geographic diversity of Illinois - with funds provided to over 79 counties, and over $68 million for downstate communities alone. In addition, over $35 million has been directed to regions currently under mitigations to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, or where mitigations will soon take effect.
"While we know the needs facing our Illinois communities and businesses are great - these latest funds released will provide a much-needed boost to cover losses and withstand the ongoing nature of the crisis," said DCEO Director Erin B. Guthrie. "Under Governor Pritzker's leadership, Illinois is taking necessary steps to overcome the virus quickly so we can begin the long-term work of rebuilding our businesses and our local economy. Economic support programs like BIG and Local CURE are an essential component of protecting our communities, and we encourage more small businesses and local governments to apply for remaining funds to address their COVID-19 costs."
The BIG program has granted $12.4 million to businesses located in Chicago so far in this round, for a total of $33.7 million in BIG awards for the city's businesses. Businesses can use BIG funds to cover working capital costs - which includes payroll, rent, PPE and other operational costs.
Latrusia May said it is a much needed lifeline for her small business, L May Creations Event Space in Chicago's Austin neighborhood.
"The BIG program has allowed me to be able to continue to pay my employees, but most importantly it is allowing me to keep my business doors open for my community," she said.
Applications are still open for the BIG program, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity reports there is still hundreds of millions of dollars left to give.
From the onset of the pandemic, support for small businesses has been one of the central features of the Pritzker administration’s COVID-19 response. Since March, the administration has launched a menu of small business and community relief programs – with over $500 million in grants and programs launched by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, including emergency hospitality grants, a downstate small business stabilization program, Fast Track Capital, and more. For more information on programs available for businesses and communities, visit DCEO’s website.