SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Pritzker administration still has more than $200 million available for small businesses through the Back to Business grant program.
State officials told lawmakers Thursday that the administration already gave 784 grants totaling $36 million. The Pritzker administration created the $250 million program with funding from the American Rescue Plan earlier this summer.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said 87% of the businesses that received these grants didn't receive Business Interruption Grants. In fact, Acting Director Sylvia Garcia said DCEO set aside $25 million for businesses that didn't have BIG grants.
However, the Small Business Advocacy Council told lawmakers that there's not nearly enough funding available to satisfy the demand. President Elliot Richardson said the BIG program helped many businesses. Still, he noted only about 20% of those that applied received grants. Richardson also said the state should put more of the $8 billion in ARPA funding towards assistance for small businesses.
Are there enough funds to help all eligible businesses?
"Act quickly to replenish the funds in the Back to Business program so that hopefully the businesses that need relief can get that relief and jobs will not be lost. And the economy can continue on the road to recovery," Richardson said.
Although, some lawmakers said the state would never have enough money to support every business in need.
Businesses are eligible for $5,000 to $150,000 if they faced significant financial loss during the pandemic. Those businesses must have annual revenue of $20 million or less.
Garcia also noted that the department gave priority to small businesses making less than $5 million annually. They also set 40% of the funds, or $100 million, for businesses in disproportionately impacted areas. Hotels, restaurants, and organizations are also eligible for grants.
"We have tens of thousands of applications that are in," Garcia said. "So we have a lot of applications that are in that we're reviewing. We've only been able to reward so far $36 million which is almost 800 grantees. But, every day that number updates."
Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) told Garcia she would like to see the number of people who apply and the number of businesses that receive grants. She said lawmakers would also like to see why certain businesses would not receive financial assistance.
The application period for remaining Back to Business grants closes next Wednesday. You can find more information by clicking here.