The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $636 million program developed by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to provide economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19.BIG leverages federal funding provided by the CARES Act to help offset COVID-19 related losses for Illinois small businesses. funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs; rent; utilities; and other operational costs as defined in the eligible cost list found below.
The first round of funding provided a $49 million boost for businesses throughout Illinois, with grant funds deployed to roughly 2,800 businesses spanning 400 towns and cities, and in 78 counties throughout the state.
A $220 million second round of BIG aims to provide relief for all types of small businesses, but with a particular focus on businesses downstate, in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) and for heavily impacted industry and regions - representing businesses that have been unable to reopen or operating at a severely diminished capacity since the spring.
The second wave of funds includes the following provisions to ensure a wide distribution of funds geographically and across business type:
- Heavily Impacted Industries: $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks and more.
- Disproportionately Impacted Areas: $70 million set aside for DIAs, defined by zip codes identified by the General Assembly for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Downstate Communities: DCEO has committed to ensuring that at least half of all remaining funds, totaling more than $100 million, are reserved for businesses in downstate and rural communities of Illinois.
- Priority Businesses: Apart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, applications from the following types of businesses will be prioritized for review for remaining funds: businesses directly affected by regional mitigations implemented by the state or local governments, independently owned retail, tourism- and hospitality-related industries including accommodations, and more.
- Agriculture: $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions.
- Grants and Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients: As authorized by the General Assembly, DCEO will offer grants for businesses that have incurred eligible costs to offset loans received under the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan program. This round of loan forgiveness and grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset going forward as DCEO and its partners focus on making BIG awards.
Businesses outside the categories listed above are also eligible to apply and receive funding under the program but may be reviewed later than priority businesses. All businesses will receive a decision on their grant application within four to six weeks of application submission.
To view the application and to apply, please click here (link).