BIGGrants2 FBSPRINGFIELD – Governor JB Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced this week that applications are now available for the new Business Interruption Grant program, which will make $60 million available for 3,500 small businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Working together, Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly made Business Interruption Grants a priority in this year's state budget,” Manar said. “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."

Manar, a lead budgeteer in the Illinois Senate, successfully advocated for BIG funding in the new state budget, which was approved by the General Assembly last month.

The BIG program, administered by DCEO, is part of over $900 million in new programs recently announced by Governor Pritzker, with a focus on restoring communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

“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 Gov. Pritzker. “As our small businesses reopen their doors, these grant programs will provide critical support to allow them to safely expand their operations. We cannot 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 thrive.”

Grants will be made available for small businesses in amounts ranging between $10,000-$20,000, depending on business type and other eligibility criteria. Eligible businesses include restaurants and bars, barbershops and salons, and gyms and fitness centers.

Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020.

The first wave of BIG funding will prioritize businesses that have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by revenue losses exceeding the amount they are applying for and caused by following the state’s public health guidance. Priority will also be given to those located in disproportionately impacted areas. DIAs are low-income areas that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases.

BIG funds may be used to help businesses cover the costs of payroll, rent, utilities and other working capital during the time they have experienced interruptions due to COVID.

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 26 at 9 a.m.

All applications must be submitted by Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m.