$42 million in new state COVID-19 grants go to small businesses in 162 suburbs
Nearly 1,100 small businesses in 162 suburbs received more than $42.2 million combined in grants from the state to help offset operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday more than $111 million of the "Back to Business" grants had been issued statewide to nearly 3,000 businesses since September.
Stacee Kalmanovsky, who runs The Art Room in Mundelein, said she is looking forward to receiving the $5,000 in grant funds state records show she was awarded.
"As you can imagine, it's been a kind of crazy two years," Kalmanovsky said. "Any sort of assistance during this time is absolutely welcome because my business runs as an extracurricular service for children and we've just been scraping by the past two years."
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is overseeing the grant program that has been allocated $250 million from the federal government's American Rescue Plan Act.
Qualifying businesses had to report earnings below $20 million in 2019, or less than $35 million for hotels and motels. Businesses that had applied for but did not receive funds from previous grant programs were given priority as well, state officials said.
On average, recipients of the grant funds saw revenues decline an average of 41% throughout the pandemic, officials said.
The grants are intended to help businesses "rehire staff, cover operating losses and afford additional customer safety precautions," Pritzker said.
Applications for the remaining funds are being processed and new applications are no longer being accepted, according to the department's website.
The state earmarked $100 million of the funds for businesses in towns that were considered "disproportionately impacted areas" of the state. In the suburbs, those areas included all or parts of Addison, Aurora, Bensenville, Carpentersville, Des Plaines, Elgin, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, West Chicago and Wheeling. There were 204 businesses in those 10 towns that received a combined $8.8 million.
In Aurora, 38 businesses received nearly $2 million combined, while 36 Addison businesses received nearly $1.7 million, according to state figures. The 24 businesses that received grants in Des Plaines split more than $1.1 million.
State officials said 79% of the allocated funds went to businesses in those disproportionately affected areas.
The grants range from as much as $250,000 down to $5,000. Of the 1,082 suburban businesses to receive the grants, 245 were for $5,000. Another 296 were for $15,000 or less.
The state earmarked $25 million for hotels, which received some of the largest individual grants. All 16 businesses that received $250,000 grants were suburban hotels, state commerce department records show. In fact, all grants in excess of $150,000 went to hotel owners.
Suburban legislators heaped praise on the assistance program.
"Businesses have struggled all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and many continue to do so," said state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, an Aurora Democrat. "I look at the businesses in my district that have received awards and I see small restaurants, family-owned businesses and businesses that have not received any help at all."
• In suburban Cook County, 673 businesses received a combined $22,750,000.
• In DuPage County, 143 businesses received a combined $6,510,000.
• In Kane County, 72 business received a combined $4,035,000.
• In Lake County, 88 businesses received a combined $4,400,000.
• In McHenry County, 22 businesses received a combined $620,000.
• In Will County, 88 businesses received a combined $3,880,000.