The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is working in conjunction with the state of Illinois to offer the Back 2 Business Grant Program to small businesses in the county affected by COVID-19.
“What the state is doing is taking money that they’ve gotten from the federal government and passing it through and try and keep it distributed to some of the hardest-hit businesses throughout the state of Illinois,” Tim Nugent, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance said at a recent County Board Finance Committee meeting. “It’s got a targeted outreach with a focus on under-served businesses, including minority, rural, veteran and women-owned businesses.”
The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity has $250,000 available for the program. Grants available range from $5,000 to $150,000 to cover operations, staff and overhead costs. Applications are being accepted now.
Priority will be given to the following:
• Hardest hit industries: Hotels, salons, fitness centers and restaurants.
• Disproportionately impacted areas: Economically depressed communities which have had higher cases of COVID-19.
• Uncovered businesses: Business that have yet to qualify for state or federal assistance, including PPP and Restaurant Revitalized Fund.
Nugent said Kankakee, Bradley, Pembroke Township and Aroma Park are considered DIA areas.
“Even if you’re not in that area, you still qualify,” Nugent said. “It’s just they have a checklist and you get preference points, depending on where you’re located.”
Nugent said his office can assist local businesses with the application process, which he said is a four-page online application.
“You can actually complete this grant in about 20, 25 minutes,” he said. “It’s very simple.”
As part of the program, $30 million has been allocated to the arts and entertainment business, $25 million to restaurants and taverns, $25 million for hotels and $25 million for any business that has not received a business interruption grant.
Some of the criteria to be eligible for the grants are that the businesses had to be in operation in 2019, filed business tax returns for 2019 and 2020, and have revenues of less than $20 million. In addition, the businesses had to make less money in 2020 than they did in 2019 and must be still in operation now.
“The hardest-hit industries that experienced prolonged hardship, part of a disproportionately affected area, businesses that haven’t qualified [for PPP, RFF, BIG grants] those are the ones that really should look at this,” Nugent said.