bicycle repair 102920AURORA – As many businesses continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is encouraging small business owners to apply for the second round of the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program, a key piece of the state’s pandemic response effort.

“Local businesses have confronted unmatched challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m pleased we have another round of grants available to help them get back on their feet,” said Holmes. “Their resourcefulness and flexibility has helped them adapt to new safety guidelines, and I hope this program can give them the means to bounce back.”

The BIG program has allocated $220 million to Illinois small businesses in the second round, with priority given to businesses in regions under increased mitigation measures. BIG funds may be used to help businesses cover the costs of payroll, rent, utilities and other working capital during the time they have experienced interruptions due to the pandemic.

To ensure funds are distributed across the state and across business type, $60 million has been specifically allocated for heavily distressed industries, including indoor recreation facilities and amusement parks, and another $70 million has been set aside for businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas, or low-income areas that have experienced high rates of COVID-19. For a full list of eligible zip codes, click here.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity awarded a total of $46 million to 2,655 small businesses in the first round of BIG funding earlier this year. Those grants went to Illinois restaurants and bars, barbershops and salons, and fitness centers. In the Aurora area, 33 local businesses received a combined $540,000.

“It was gratifying to see our local businesses get this boost in the first round of the BIG program,” Holmes said. “I encourage all affected businesses who haven’t yet applied to apply for funding as soon as possible.”

Applications for the second round of the BIG program are available now and can be found on DCEO’s website at Illinois.gov/dceo.

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