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. 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 (more guidance forthcoming).
  • Due to the high volume of grant applications, you may experience delays submitting your application due to web traffic ("504 Error") or other errors. We recommend saving your application answers in a separate document prior to submitting to reduce submission time should you experience technical difficulties and need to resume the application process at a later time.
  • If you previously had issues submitting your application due to rejected FEIN or Account numbers, you may need to clear your browser cache or start a new application.

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: In August, an initial round of funding was directed to restaurants, personal care services, gyms and fitness clubs, and businesses located in DIAs. The first round of BIG provided a $49 million 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 deployed 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.  

The second wave of funds includes the following provisions to ensure a wide distribution of funds geographically and across business type:

  • Heavily Impacted Industries - $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, and more.
  • Disproportionately Impacted Areas - $70 million set aside for DIAs, defined by zip codes identified by the General Assembly for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19.  A map of DIAs is shown below.
  • Downstate Communities – DCEO has committed to ensuring that at least half of all remaining funds, totaling more than $100 million, are reserved for businesses in downstate and rural communities of Illinois.
  • Priority BusinessesApart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, applications from the following types of businesses will be prioritized for review for remaining funds:  businesses directly affected by regional mitigations implemented by the state or local governments, independently owned retail, tourism- and hospitality-related industries including accommodations, and more.
  • Agriculture - $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions. Applications will be available in the coming weeks from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
  • Grants and Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients - As authorized by the General Assembly, DCEO will offer grants for businesses that have incurred eligible costs to offset loans received under the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan program.  This round of loan forgiveness and grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset going forward as DCEO and its partners focus on making BIG awards.

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 DETAILS:

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.  

PartnerContactSpanish-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

jready@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! ​ ​

 

Webinar Recordings

Upcoming Webinars

  • BIG Program Round 2 - DCEO and Team RED in collaboration with Little Village Chamber of Commerce. First half hour will be in English and the second half hour will be in Spanish. La primera media hora será en inglés y la segunda media hora será en español.

    • Date/Time: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 9:30 am – 10:30 am
  • Online with OMEE (The Office of Minority Economic Empowerment) - dates and times here, or email CEO.OMEE@illinois.gov
  • Rural Communities & Business Interruption Grants - DCEO and Team RED in collaboration with the Governor's Rural Affairs Council will host a weekly webinar "Strategies for Rural Businesses Utilizing Business Interruption Grants (BIG)". Please join us and learn how to successfully apply for BIG to help your businesses during this challenging time.

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