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Small businesses urged to apply for BIG grants

Information provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Chicago, Ill. (November 6, 2020) – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today joined the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, The Resurrection Project, and members of the community to call on more minority-owned small businesses to apply for the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program. Since its launch, the historic BIG program has deployed over 4,000 small business grants. With $175 million in remaining funds, the state and its partner organizations are aiming to get the word out to more Latinx and minority owned businesses facing losses due to COVID-19.

“All across Illinois, the small business community is facing tough choices due to the ongoing pandemic—which is why my administration worked quickly to stand up the historic $636 million BIG program to provide relief the business owners need to reopen and operate safely,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “To date, more than 4,000 grants have gone out, with nearly half of the grants going to minority owned businesses which reflect the diversity and vibrancy of Illinois’ communities. Still, we know more must be done to help additional businesses struggling in the face of the ongoing pandemic. That is why we are working to ensure that business owners from every community, regardless of their immigration status, have access to BIG funding that will help them to continue making payroll, purchase PPE protecting for employees and staff and maintain other operational costs as Illinois works to get to the other side of this crisis.”

Guided by an equity framework to ensure businesses from across the state can benefit, the BIG program has yielded an equitable distribution of funding so far—with over 4,000 grants totaling $95 million provided to 469 communities across the state. The program prioritizes hard hit industries—with over $46.5 million in funding allocated for restaurants and taverns. Nearly half of the grants have been extended to disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs)—those areas suffering higher cases counts and experiencing underlying economic distress.

Nearly half of all grants have been provided to minority business owners—including 10 percent for Latinx-owned businesses alone. However, with a second wave of the crisis now upon us, the State and its community navigators are moving swiftly to ensure businesses owners have the tools and information needed to take advantage of remaining funds.

Second round focus

The BIG program ensures that every community, regardless of their status, has access to critical funds to help during these challenging times. The grants range from $5,000-$150,000 per business and the funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs; rent; utilities; and other operational costs. The second round of funds focuses on:

  • Heavily Impacted Industries
  • Disproportionately Impacted Areas
  • Downstate Communities
  • Priority Businesses
  • Agriculture

“The Illinois Business Interruption Grant (BIG) has been a lifeline for us. It has been instrumental in allowing us to reopen our Pilsen location, which has been closed since March due to the pandemic,” said Christian Medrano, co-owner of the Brew Brew Coffee and Tea. “As a result of this grant, we will soon reopen our Pilsen store and we are bringing back baristas that we had to lay off when COVID-19 began to surge. We are so excited to reopen our doors and serve the Pilsen community once again for pick up & delivery and look forward to fully reopening when it is safe to do so.”

Community navigators

In an effort to reach small minority-owned businesses the BIG program has partnered with four lead organizations to conduct outreach and technical assistance through a community navigator model. The four lead organizations are:

  • The Resurrection Project
  • Illinois Business Immigration Coalition
  • Chicago Urban League
  • Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation

The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Program is a $636 million program developed by Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly supporting thousands of small businesses who have suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BIG program includes ITIN and represents the largest state-run economic support program in response to the economic hardship caused by coronavirus.

The Business Interruption Grant Application can be found at:

For assistance filling out the application please contact our technical assistance line at (312) 880-1882.

The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal
The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.