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.
“We’re grateful for the launch of the Back 2 Business Grant program, a crucial investment by the state of Illinois to support small businesses and accelerate business recovery to rebuild our economy post-pandemic,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “As one of thirteen Community Navigator hubs across the state of Illinois, we look forward to working with regional partners to assist with outreach and technical assistance to ensure programming and financial assistance is accessible amongst small businesses, hard-hit industries, and disproportionately impacted businesses.”
“We are grateful to have been selected to participate in the Small Business Community Navigator Program,” said Cary Minnis, Executive Director of the Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development. “Working with our partners, we look forward to ensuring equitable access to small business resources in the southernmost part of Illinois.”
“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.”
“The DCEO Community Navigator program works for two reasons. First, it recognizes that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to challenge small businesses. Second, the program works because it relies on trusted community partners to help underserved and underrepresented businesses secure the financial support they need to recover and thrive into the future,” said Christopher Merritt, Executive Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs.
“As we continued to see a rise in online orders during the pandemic – the State of Illinois BIG grant allowed me to streamline our e-commerce platform so that we could keep pace with customer demand,” said Maya-Camille Broussard, Owner of Justice of the Pies. “Just months after receiving the grant, we scaled our online shop to deliver 750 pies nationally. While that number may seem small, it was a huge feat for our satellite bakery and was proof for third party partners that we were positioned to handle demand in a beautiful and food-safe way. I strongly encourage small businesses to apply for state grants. Opportunities to continue building exist.”
“The State of Illinois BIG grant helped us to not only keep our doors open and keep our staff thriving during the pandemic – but continue with expansion plans to launch three new locations serving the Chicago and Evanston communities,” said Alan Moy, Owner and Operator of Viet Nom Nom restaurant. “Now, with the State’s new Back to Business grants program – I encourage my peers to seek out these programs and to work with community organizations like Allies for Community Business, ICNC, and The Hatchery to navigate the many resources & programs available.”
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 new program has expanded on previous grant programs for business,” said Majority Leader Greg Harris. “Not only are there more resources, we have targeted funds for disproportionately impacted communities and also specific types of small businesses, like hospitality, tourism, arts and culture, which have been particularly hard hit by COVID.”
“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.
“Small businesses create jobs, attract tourism and underpin our communities—they’re fueling our state’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “But our main streets need support to bounce back. The Back 2 Business program has enormous positive potential not just for businesses, but for our communities as a whole, as we revive and expand our local economies.”
“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.”
“It has remained a top priority of mine to help all small businesses build back better,” said State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago).”Like all of us, small business owners suffered unimaginable stress over the past year, but the losses our small businesses experienced have put a tremendous strain on growing local economies. I am proud to lead Democratic efforts in the Senate to ensure needed dollars reach the communities hardest hit by the pandemic as we work to ensure every small business owner’s voice is heard.”
“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).
“The Back to Business grant program is exactly the boost our most vulnerable businesses need in order to rebound from the challenging times we’ve recently experienced,” said State Representative Sonya Harper (D-Chicago). “I applaud Governor for listening to our concerns and coming up with a program that truly works for disproportionately impacted businesses and communities.”
“The Back to Business grant will be a lifeline for the small businesses in the communities we serve,” said State Representative Theresa Mah (D-Chicago). “Some of these businesses were so small or so challenged by previous grant opportunities that they were not equipped to take advantage of them, or they were so severely impacted that they did not receive enough assistance. For them this program is coming just in time.”
“As we continue our economic recovery from this pandemic, it is imperative for our state to continue it’s support of the small businesses that line our bustling communities,” said State Representative Aaron Ortiz (D-Chicago). “As I walk our business districts and hear from our merchants, many immigrants who rely on the income generated to support their families, I understand how vital these programs are in maintaining the spirit of our communities. I am proud to support the Back to Business Grant Program that continues to prioritize the small businesses that serve as an important engine in our neighborhoods.”
For more information on B2B, how to apply and where to access small business assistance, please visit dceo.illinois.gov. DCEO and partner organizations will hold webinars over the next several weeks to provide virtual technical assistance on demand. To receive regular updates on economic recovery programs, capital assistance and other economic development programs, subscribe to the DCEO newsletter, or follow us on social @IllinoisDCEO.