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Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced the $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program to support the continued recovery of small businesses across Illinois.

The first in a series of economic recovery programs set to launch by the administration, B2B will offer small businesses access to funds that can help offset losses due to COVID-19, bring back workers, and take continued steps to rebuild amid the fallout from the pandemic.

The program builds on last year’s Business Interruption Grant program, which provided $580 million to small businesses and childcare providers across the state.

Illinois Latino Small Business Partnership program, funded by DCEO and powered by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC), will immediately begin working to provide businesses with information on required steps to apply, allowing them time to prepare before the application formally opens on August 18, 2021 – one week from today.

“Through the new Back to Business grant program, our administration is mobilizing our share of federal recovery dollars to provide grants that will help Illinois businesses continue with reopening, bring back their staff and rebuild stronger,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia.

“At DCEO, we have already begun to join community navigators, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, legislators and many other partners from around the state in getting the word out about the availability of critical resources for businesses still in need.”

While many business types and industries may apply, businesses in the following industries will be given priority status for grants: restaurants and taverns; hotels; arts businesses and organizations; and more. Additionally, businesses located within Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) will be prioritized.

The community navigator approach has been recognized by the Biden-Harris administration as a national model, and it follows on investments made by State during the pandemic through the Small Business Development Centers and other community partners providing no-cost technical assistance to businesses in need.

To find a community navigator near you, please visit:

  • B2B seeks to restore operational losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide grants ranging in size from $5,000-$150,000, commensurate with the amount of losses experienced.
  • To be considered for a grant, applicants must demonstrate a reduction in revenue in 2020 as compared with 2019, and annual revenues of no more than $20 million in 2019.
  • Businesses must also provide two bank statements, a business owner ID, and federal tax returns for 2019 and 2020.

“Cook County is honored to be a recipient of DCEO’s Community Navigator Grant as a part of the State’s Back to Business initiative. It will add to the County’s ongoing efforts to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and the inequities amplified by the pandemic in our most vulnerable communities,” said Cook County Board of Commissioners President Preckwinkle. 

“Strategic, community-informed outreach represents a critical piece in connecting business owners and residents with information, and this grant will allow us to continue to meet small business owners where they are in this moment. This is equity in action.”

This program will offer small minority owned businesses a real opportunity to apply for funds that are essential to their long-term well-being, and to the state’s strong economic resurgence after the pandemic,” said Jaime di Paulo, President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “As a community navigator, I’m glad we will be able to assist businesses with submitting complete applications to ensure they receive a fair shot at a grant.”

B2B builds on the success of the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program, first launched by the Pritzker administration last year to provide emergency assistance for businesses facing acute operational impacts due to COVID-19.

The largest economic support program of its kind at the time – BIG delivered on its intended goals of serving the hardest-hit industries in the hardest-hit places. The program deployed $580 million to small businesses and childcare providers across the state – including over 9,000 small business grants awarded through DCEO.

Moreover, a record 40 percent of grants were awarded to minority-owned businesses – a testament to the work of the community navigators program piloted to help reach more underserved businesses in minority and rural communities across the state.

“Small businesses are vital to our economy, and they were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Senate President Don Harmon. “I am hopeful that this investment will help them recover and thrive in the years to come.”

“This is the shot in the arm that our small businesses need to continue to grow and once again thrive in this COVID-era economy.  And when our small businesses thrive, so do our communities,” said Assistant Majority Leader Elizabeth Hernandez.

“Throughout the pandemic, providing support to our small businesses has been a priority, starting with the BIG program last year and continuing on with the Back to Business program now,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D- Elgin). “I commend Gov. JB Pritzker and the hardworking folks at DCEO for helping ensure that our most vulnerable businesses bounce back and thrive as we work to recover from the last year and a half.”

“Many small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19 have not received any or little financial support. This situation is unacceptable and is about to change with this new program that focuses on helping businesses in industries severely affected by the pandemic. Our communities will appreciate this funding that allows rebuilding the state’s economy from the bottom up,” said State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago).

For more information on B2B, how to apply and where to access small business assistance, please visit DCEO and partner organizations will hold webinars over the next several weeks to provide virtual technical assistance on demand.

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