'It was a little ping of joy': Suburban businesses share $15 million in COVID-19 grant funds
Michelle Dacy first thought the email she received offering grant funds for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was some kind of scam.
But instead of hitting the delete button, the Wheaton businesswoman sent it to her accountant who verified the unsolicited offer from the state was indeed legitimate.
"I still don't know how I got the email," said Dacy, who operates a paratransit service available throughout the Chicago area for wheelchair-bound individuals called Special Needs Chicago. "I did everything online Oct. 16, and it only took a few minutes. I did not have any expectations. But I got another email on Oct. 28 saying I was approved. I didn't know when I'd get the money, though, but I checked my bank accountant yesterday and all the sudden it was there. It was a little ping of joy."
The $25,000 grant will help her with her mortgage payment and other associated costs Dacy's endured throughout the pandemic, though it doesn't cover all the revenue shortfalls she's experienced since the beginning of the outbreak when 90% of the company's business went away.
"The effect on us was very swift because we have so many clients in long-term care facilities that were immediately placed on lockdown," she said.
Dacy's company was one of more than 1,200 small businesses in Illinois that shared in $46 million worth of Business Interruption Grants issued by the state.
Business owners can apply at illinois.gov/dceo.
This is the second wave of grants funds issued by the state and administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Earlier this summer, the state issued $46 million more to nearly 2,650 businesses affected by the pandemic in increments of $10,000 to $20,000.
This round of funding targeted specific business types and operations in certain geographic areas, state officials said. The grants also ranged in size from $5,000 to as much as $150,000. Restaurants, entertainment venues and businesses in disproportionately affected areas were prioritized in this round of funding, according to state officials.
"These latest funds released will provide a much-needed boost to cover losses and withstand the ongoing nature of the crisis," said DCEO Director Erin Guthrie. "Illinois is taking necessary steps to overcome the virus quickly so we can begin the long-term work of rebuilding our businesses and our local economy."
More than 400 suburban businesses received a combined $14.7 million in grant funds from the latest round, according to DCEO records.
In suburban Cook County, 189 small businesses received a combined $5 during this latest round of funding. Elsewhere in the suburbs, 78 Will County small businesses shared more than $3.5 million of the grants. In DuPage County, nearly $2 million in grant funding went to 48 businesses. There were 49 Lake County small businesses that received a combined $1.75 million. The state also released nearly $1.4 million in grant funds to 31 McHenry County businesses. And 32 Kane County small businesses shared in more than $1 million worth of grant funds.
The state has about $175 million additional BIG funds to issue. Interested business owners are urged to apply at the DCEO's website, illinois.gov/dceo.