Applications for BIG grants and the Rebuild
Distressed Communities NOFO are due on July 7th. For more
information on eligibility and how to apply, visit DCEO’s website.
“This virus has had devastating effects on the health and
livelihoods of our residents, and we must take aggressive action to
help our families and communities recover,” said Governor Pritzker.
“As our small businesses reopen their doors, these grant programs
will provide critical support to allow them to safely expand their
operations. We can not recover without our small businesses leading
the way, particularly in communities that have been
disproportionately impacted by this virus, and this administration
is committed to using all resources at our disposal to help them
These programs administered by DCEO are part of over $900 million in
new programs recently announced by Governor Pritzker, with a focus
on restoring communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Both programs
offer priority for small businesses whose operations were heavily
restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic, for those
located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), as well as
those in communities damaged by recent civil unrest. DIAs are
low-income areas that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our Illinois economy, which is
why the Pritzker administration has continuously taken action to
grant critical relief programs the duration of this unprecedented
crisis,” said Acting Director of DCEO, Michael Negron. “With many
businesses all across our state experiencing hardship from COVID-19,
DCEO has worked to marshal funding in a way that reaches across all
of our diverse community areas, and that assists those who need it
the most. With the new BIG program, the state will ensure those
businesses most greatly affected are not left behind as we move
forward to a safe, phased reopening of our state and economy.”
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.
“With small businesses suffering because of the global health
pandemic and recent looting from civil unrest in our country, it is
critical that we step up and play a role in saving these mom and pop
shops,” said State Representative Chris Welch, 7th District. “The
Business Interruption Grants and Distressed Capital Program will
play a critical role in helping minority owned businesses survive in
"Working together, Governor
Pritzker and the General Assembly made Business Interruption Grants
a priority in this year's state budget,” said State Senator Andy
Manar, 48th District. “Making sure small business owners in all
parts of Illinois have access to much needed financial assistance is
imperative as we continue to fight the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we should do
everything we can to support them."
truly set the state on a path toward recovery, we have to extend the
aid needed to help our small businesses survive these unprecedented
times," said State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr., 17th District. "Budget
negotiations were more difficult this year. I am pleased that we are
providing desperately needed relief to many of the businesses who
have been hardest hit, including those who can't reopen until Phase
4 or 5."
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“The Governor has shown tremendous leadership
throughout this pandemic by not only designing a broad range of
programs that support those hit hardest, but by also going a step
further to reach those in disproportionately impacted areas like our
community,” said State Representative Lisa Hernandez, 24th District.
“While small and minority-owned businesses already face longer odds
for success, these programs will help them gain the footing they
need to pull through this crisis.”
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.
“Illinois small business owners are tough, but they need extra help
to continue fighting through this pandemic,” said Brad McConnell,
CEO of Accion Serving Illinois & Indiana. “Accion is thankful we are
able to partner with the Governor to support the businesses that
have been hit the hardest.”
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.
"Governor Pritzker's BIG program aims to mitigate the
disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities,
and combat the baked-in inequities of relief programs that have shut
out over 80% of minority owned businesses and independent
contractors,” said Rebecca Shi, Executive Director, Illinois
Business Immigration Coalition. “IBIC and our 147 members commend
the Governor and are ready to roll up our sleeves to assist our
entrepreneur of color to not only survive but thrive through this
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
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.
BIG and Rebuild Distressed Communities programs build on steady
action taken by Governor Pritzker throughout the COVID-19 crisis to
support small businesses. With the addition of this first round of
BIG and Rebuild Distressed Communities, more than $150 million in
business assistance programs have been announced since March –
including the downstate small business stabilization fund, the
hospitality grants program, and the Fast Track Public Infrastructure
Program. Collectively, these programs have helped provide vital
assistance for thousands of unique businesses located in every
corner across the state.
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.
[ Illinois Office of Communication