Is Your Small Business Struggling? State Has $175 Million In Grants Left To Give, But Needs More Applicants - Block Club Chicago

Is Your Small Business Struggling? State Has $175 Million In Grants Left To Give, But Needs More Applicants - Block Club Chicago

Is Your Small Business Struggling? State Has $175 Million In Grants Left To Give, But Needs More Applicants - Block Club Chicago

Posted: 06 Nov 2020 06:10 AM PST

AVONDALE — Small businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic can get a lifeline through a new state program with a lot of money left to give.

In an effort to save Illinois' struggling small business community, Gov. JB Pritkzer launched the $636 million Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program.

So far, the state has awarded grants to 4,000 small business owners across the state, half of them minority owners. But the program has $175 million left to give and officials are urging small business owners, especially Latino and Black business owners, to apply and take advantage of the program.

"I know this may seem strange or unlikely, but the government has lots of money and we want to give it to you," State Rep. Will Guzzardi said at a Friday morning press conference.

"If you're a small business owner, we want to give you this money. We want to give it to you for free, we want you to use it to keep your employees on your payroll and keep your businesses alive."

The press conference was held outside of Brew Brew coffee shop in Avondale, 3832 W. Diversey Ave., which was recently awarded a $20,000 grant through the program. The grant will allow the owners to reopen their second location in Pilsen, which has been closed since the statewide shutdown in March, and hire back baristas.

"It's a relief," co-owner Christian Medrano said of the grant.

"COVID has been hard, but just as you would fight for your loved one, you have to fight for your business."

Medrano, who is originally from Mexico, is one of many minority small business owners officials hope to help in the coming months.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity have teamed up with organizations like The Resurrection Project and the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to raise awareness about the program among Latino and Black small business communities and to provide technical assistance to business owners who apply.

So far, about 1,700 Latino business owners have applied for grants through the program, but officials are hoping to reach many more.

"There is no reason why businesses struggling, who have been impacted by COVID, should not apply," said Raul Raymundo, CEO of The Resurrection Project, an organization based in Pilsen.

On average, applicants are finding out if they've won the grant within two to three weeks of applying, according to Erin Guthrie, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

In the first round, grant amounts averaged about $17,000. But going into the second round, officials are looking at how specific types of businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and using that information to determine grant amounts, Guthrie said.

Once awarded, the grant money can be used to pay employees and to pay rent, utilities and other costs associated with running a small business.

The program is being funded exclusively by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Medrano and his sister, Diana, shut down their two coffee shops and laid off all of their employees in March when Pritzker ordered all non-essential businesses to close.

When restrictions lifted, the brother-and-sister-team reopened the Avondale coffee shop, the original location, "in the hopes of keeping [the] business alive," Medrano said.

But the coffee shop saw a 40-60 percent drop in business.

With the grant money, the coffee shop owners are finally able to chart a path forward.

"It's free money. You don't have to pay it back," Medrano said. "The process is simple and it was easy to follow up."

For more information about the grant program, visit the program's website. To apply, click here.

The city of Chicago also announced grants to struggling restaurant and bar owners Thursday. Read more about that program here.

Block Club Chicago's coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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Decatur will begin accepting second round of small business grant applications on Nov. 11 -

Posted: 10 Nov 2020 09:58 AM PST

Decatur, GA — Small businesses in Decatur can soon benefit from the second round of COVID-19 grants provided by the city.

Small businesses can submit applications tomorrow, Nov. 11, at 8 a.m. Information on how to apply is included at the end of this article.

The city is making $400,000 in grant funding available, drawing upon money provided via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The City has received $2,914,000 in federal CARES Act funding to handle expenses related to COVID-19. It's using that money to forgive $563,400 in loans that were provided to businesses as part of the city's COVID-19 relief efforts. Last month, City Commissioners signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Decatur Development Authority to use $400,000 more in CARES money to provide a second round of small business grants.

The new grant program will have some new parameters that will make it easier for businesses to apply. It will allow applications from businesses that are owned and staffed by sole proprietors and increase the employee number limit from 30 to 50. Applicants can request $5,000 per full-time employee, up to a maximum of $25,000. In the likely event that there are more requests than money available, a lottery process will be used again.

Here's the announcement from the city about how to apply for the second round of grant funding:

The City of Decatur and the Decatur Development Authorities (DDA) have announced the creation of a small business grant program in response to the financial challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $400,000 will be granted from funding made available to the local government through the CARES Act.

Any small business in Decatur employing between one and 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees is eligible, so long as they were open and operational as of March 1, 2020. Depending on various factors in the application process, including the number of full-time employees, eligible businesses will be considered for a grant of up to $25,000.

The grants are being administered by the DDA, and businesses interested in applying are encouraged to visit Decatur's business resources webpage for updates and for the grant guide. The online portal to submit an application will open at 8:00 a.m. on November 11, 2020, and the deadline to apply is 5:00 p.m. on November 25, 2020. In the event that the grant fund is over-subscribed, a lottery method will be used to select which businesses from the group of qualified applicants will receive the grant. Grant distributions are expected by the end of December.

The DDA has also created an interactive webpage detailing which local businesses are remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic and their updated operating hours, which can be accessed through is working to keep your community informed about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. All of our coverage on this topic can be found at If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about what your community is doing to stop the spread of COVID-19. To become a supporter, click here

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Statesboro COVID-19 small business and utility bill grants now available - Statesboro Herald

Posted: 10 Nov 2020 08:24 PM PST

Two different not-for-profit organizations are now taking applications for the COVID-19 relief small business grants and utility bill assistance grants created by the city of Statesboro from its federal CARES Act funding.

A third nonprofit is expected to begin taking applications soon for the home mortgage and rent assistance program.

Small business grants

The Business Innovation Group, or BIG, an arm of Georgia Southern University based at its Statesboro City Center downtown, is handling applications for the city's COVID-19 Business Fund grants, available to qualifying business owners in amounts up  to $5,000. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 13, after the window of opportunity opened Nov. 2.

To be eligible a small business must have operated from the same physical location within the Statesboro city limits for at least three months and be a for-profit, retail-oriented company with less than $2 million annual gross revenue. It must be independently owned, have four or fewer locations in Statesboro and have been ordered to close or had significantly reduced business because of a 2020 state of Georgia emergency executive order.

An online application is available at or contact the GSU Business Innovation Group at (912) 478-0872 or for more information.

Utility assistance

Meanwhile, Action Pact, the agency previously known as Concerted Services, is taking applications for the city-created grants for Statesboro utility customers struggling to pay water, sewer, natural gas and electric bills. The grants, in amounts up to $175 per applicant, are meant for people experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Action Pact's call center is open 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at (912) 489-1604.

The United Way of Southeast Georgia will administer the Rental and Mortgage Assistance Fund, providing up to a maximum $3,000 per family. This fund is meant to help Statesboro residents who are struggling with paying rent or have fallen behind on their mortgage payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of midday Monday, the application for the rent and mortgage grants had not been released. City Public Information Officer Layne Phillips said it should be soon but that United Way was working out a few details.

City Council established these three programs Oct. 20, budgeting $75,000 each to the business and utility funds and $100,000 to the rent and mortgage fund, for a total of $250,000, from the $1.7 million in federal funding the city received under the federal CARES Act, for "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security," enacted in March.

Essex County Offers Small Business Grants to Offset Rent Costs -

Posted: 10 Nov 2020 09:18 AM PST

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ —  Essex County is allocating $9 million to create the Essex County Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant. This grant funding is designed to help small businesses and non-profit agencies in Essex County that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic pay their rent. Essex County businesses and non-profit agencies will be able to apply for as much as a $30,000 grant. Applications will be available beginning Monday, November 16, at the Essex County Office of Small Business Development website at Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

A webinar to explain the application process will be presented Friday, November 13th at 10 a.m. Registration for the webinar is required. To register, visit Essex County is partnering with the NJ Redevelopment Authority to administer the program.

"Small businesses form the backbone of our local economy and non-profit organizations provide a vital safety net of social services for our residents. Both have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus and both need our help to be able to economically survive," Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo said. "Through our partnership with the NJRA, we are making grants available to help small businesses and non-profits pay for their rent. This will help small businesses and non-profits keep their doors open and benefits landlords who will receive rental payments, so they can pay for property taxes and other expenses," DiVincenzo said.

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Essex County is funding the Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant with money it received from the Federal CARES Act. Essex is partnering with the NJ Redevelopment Authority to have the state agency accept and review the applications. 

Grants are available to Essex County based small businesses and non-profit agencies. Applicants must be:

  • Tenants leasing commercial space in mixed-used buildings.
  • Tenants leasing commercial space in commercial buildings.
  • Storefront businesses that lease their space.
  • To be eligible, the applicant's leased premises must be no more than 7,500 square feet of leasable space. Priority will be given to leased premises of 5,000 square feet or less.
  • Applicants do not have to be delinquent on their lease payments; As a small business owner, the applicant may have exhausted all of their savings to avoid closing their business.
  • Not eligible to apply are businesses that are engaged in gambling or "adult" activities, auction sales, Christmas tree sales, tattoo parlors, smoke shops and liquor stores. 

Eligible applicants will need to provide:

  • A current copy of their lease.
  • Certification from the tenant confirming a closing date due to the pandemic.
  • A copy of a current NJ tax clearance certificate.
  • Answers to debarment questions included in the application.
  • Verification from the landlord that the business is in good standing with monthly lease obligations prior to March 1, 2020.

The participation of the landlord is necessary for the application and the landlord must verify he or she will accept payment from Essex County. Residents and landlords also must affirm that funding assistance has not been received from other sources that would create a duplication of benefits. When an application is approved, the payment will be made directly to the landlord.

This is the second program Essex County is creating to assist small businesses and non-profit agencies. In June, Essex partnered with the NJ Economic Development Authority to offer the Essex County Small Business and Non-Profit COVID Relief Fund.


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