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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EDIC Will Have $160,000 For Small Business Grants | Falmouth News -

Posted: 12 Nov 2020 09:00 PM PST

Falmouth is in line to receive $320,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. The Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation will use half, $160,000, to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This would be in the form of grants not to exceed $10,000," EDIC Director Michael DiGiano said.

In order to be eligible for a grant, a small business must have five or fewer employees, with the owner making no more than 80 percent of the area median income.

"I think that opens it up to a lot of our smaller businesses who may not have been able to get PPP loans," corporation member Michael B. Galasso said, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program loans the federal government made available last spring.

The town initially applied for $400,000, of which $200,000 was earmarked for the loan program.

"I would like our board, since we really haven't contributed any funds to small businesses, consider allocating $40,000 to bring us back up to that $200,000 mark if it is needed, if the demand for the grant program is such that we run through the $160,000 rather quickly," Mr. Galasso said.

The board took no vote on funding the program.

Corporation member Christopher R. Simmler asked if running the grant program means additional work for EDIC staff.

"Clearly, there is work to be done, but I think we knew that submitting the application," Mr. DiGiano said. He said roughly $4,000 may be used for marketing and out-of-pocket expenses, but it is expected that EDIC administration and staff time would be a local match for that portion of the grant.


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