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.
New to BIG – applications for a second round of funding went live September 17. A total of $220 million has been made available for small businesses of all types in Illinois.
More details on the latest round of funding and how to apply can be found below.
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 can be accessed HERE.
- 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 Businesses– Apart 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.
HOW TO APPLY: We will begin accepting applications for the second round of BIG on the afternoon of Thursday, September 17. Please return here for a link to the application. To help you prepare for your application, see below a preliminary application and checklist.
ROUND 2 APPLICATION DETAILS:
- VIEW: Round 2 Application Questions
- VIEW: Round 2 Application Checklist
- VIEW: Business Certification Form and Eligible Cost List
- VIEW: Guidance for BIG Awards and Other Federal Support Such as PPP and EIDL (Non-Duplication of Benefits)
- VIEW: Round 2 Detailed Eligibility Criteria (Coming soon)
During the second round, DCEO is partnering with community navigator organizations aimed at helping minority-owned businesses receive assistance necessary to apply and access available funding. Contact information and a schedule of upcoming webinars will be posted soon. Check back here for updates.
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.