COVID-19 Disadvantaged Business Grant Opportunities

Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG)

The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $636 million program developed by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to provide economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. BIG leverages federal funding provided by the CARES Act to help offset COVID-19 related losses for Illinois small businesses.

BIG is the largest program of its kind in the nation – leveraging federal CARES Act funds to establish economic recovery programs: over $270 million for small businesses, and another $270 million exclusively for childcare providers, administered jointly by DCEO and IDHS.

Funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs; rent; utilities; and other operational costs as defined in the eligible cost list found below.

Important Application Updates: Applications for a second round of funding are now live. A total of $220 million will be made available for small businesses of all types in Illinois. If you have questions or are experiencing technical difficulties, please submit a question to the BIG Helpdesk via the following forms for assistance with your application in either English or Spanish. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with funding priorities outlined below. Please take care to submit a complete and correct application. Additional time needed to submit will not impact your eligibility or chances of receiving a grant.

Application Troubleshooting Tips:

  • The BIG application has a file size limit of 25MBs. If your required documents will exceed this limit, please use the alternate file upload process offered at the bottom of the application form. You should only need this for a Heavily Impacted Industry.
  • We recommend saving your application answers in a separate document prior to submitting to reduce submission time should you experience any interruptions and need to resume the application process at a later time.

More details on the latest round of funding and how to apply can be found below. A list of responses to frequently asked questions is available here: Frequently Asked Questions

Program Status:

Round 1: An initial round of funding directed $49 million to restaurants, personal care services, gyms and fitness clubs, and businesses located in DIAs. The first round provided a boost for businesses at every corner of Illinois – with grant funds deployed to roughly 2,800 businesses spanning 400 towns and cities, and in 78 counties all throughout the state. Grants averaged $17,000, and the majority of funds were dedicated to businesses in economically distressed communities. As a result of the equity-centric approach to the program, more than half of the first-round grants went to minority-owned businesses.

See a full list of grant recipients here. Applicants that have received BIG grants in the first round have agreed to certain Certifications and Requirements, which will continue to be linked here for transparency.

Round 2:  A $220 million second round of BIG aims to provide relief for all types of small businesses, but with a particular focus on businesses downstate, in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), and for heavily impacted industry and regions – representing businesses that have been unable to reopen or operating at a severely diminished capacity since the spring.  

DCEO has begun issuing awards to more businesses in Round 2 – with over $46 million expended to over 1,200 businesses in the current round. To view a list of current Round 2 awards made – please view here.

Round 2 will include:

  • $60 million for Heavily Impacted Industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, and more.
  • $70 million for Disproportionately Impacted Areas, defined by zip code for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19.  A map of DIAs is shown below.
  • Over $100 million for Downstate Communities
  • Apart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, the following types of businesses will be prioritized:
    • businesses directly affected by regional mitigations implemented by state or local governments,
    • independently owned retail,
    • tourism- and hospitality-related industries, and more.
  • $5 million for Livestock Production disruptions. Applications will be available in the coming weeks from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
  • Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients Grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset.

Businesses outside the categories listed above are also eligible to apply and receive funding under the program but may be reviewed later than priority businesses. All businesses will receive a decision on their grant application within four to six weeks of application submission.

Apply Now: Business Interruption Grant Application

Aplica Aquí: Aplicación para el programa de subvención de BIG

ROUND 2 APPLICATION RESOURCES:

 

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE:

Assistance with your BIG application is available from a variety of partners and resources. Questions are also answered via the BIG Help Desk in English and Spanish.

  • DCEO Team Regional Economic Development (RED) – Regional Liaisons are available in 10 regions across the state. Find your local Team RED member here.
  • DCEO Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) – OMEEs dedicated program managers advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups and can assist you with BIG. Contact info here or email CEO.OMEE@illinois.gov.
  • Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – DCEO has 42 SBDC's across the state that can assist you with BIG. Find your nearest SBDC here.

Assistance is also available in Spanish. DCEO's Team RED and OMEE can assist Spanish speaking business owners, as can any community navigator with an * below.

DCEO is also partnering with organizations across Illinois to serve as BIG Community Navigators – helping business owners in DIAs connect with the BIG program and understand how to apply. A list of key contacts is below and more will be added in the coming days.  

Partner Contact Spanish-speaking
American Business Immigration Coalition, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition

lluster@americanbic.biz

 

The Resurrection Project

egamboa@resurrectionproject.org

*

The Chicago Urban League

jjohnson@chiul.org 

Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Center

jreadey@themetroalliance.com 

 

HACES - Waukegan

mejonas@haces.org 

*
North American Institute for Mexican Advancement (NAIMA)

judymacias@gmail.com

*

Carpentersville Family Resource Center

maria.chagoya@yahoo.com

*
More To Come! ​ ​

 

Upcoming Webinars

  

DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED AREAS
Need to find out if your business is located in a DIA? The below map allows you to search by address, or by searching for your zip code in the list of 176 distinct DIAs here.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

A list of responses to frequently asked questions is available here: Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency rules to implement the Business Interruption Grant program can be found here.

BIG AWARD RECIPIENTS