Back to Business Grant Program

The State of Illinois has announced the $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program, which will issue small businesses recovery grants for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The B2B grant program is financed with Illinois designated American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The $250 million in funds will be disbursed across the state, including the following allocations:

  • $100 million: Businesses located in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs)
  • $30 million: Arts and Entertainment businesses that didn’t receive a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
  • $25 million: Restaurants and taverns that didn’t receive the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
  • $25 million: Hotels
  • $25 million: Businesses that didn’t receive a Business Interruption Grant due to exhaustion of funds

Grants will range from $5,000 to $150,000 per business and can be used to cover a wide range of operations/staff/overhead costs.  For hotels, the grant may be as much as $250,000.

Who is eligible?

Eligible businesses are those with revenues of $20 million ($35 million for hotels) or less in 2019 that experienced a reduction in revenue of at least $5,000 in 2020 due to COVID-19.

As many Illinois businesses will meet this requirement, the program has indicated that priority will be given to the following categories:

  • Hard-hit industries including (but not limited to):
    • Hotels
    • Restaurants
    • Arts/entertainment
    • Retail establishments (excluding e-commerce)
    • Barber shops/salons
    • Fitness centers/gyms
    • Certain businesses in the tourism industry
  • Hard-hit areas comprised of 176 zip codes. View map or search address to determine if you are in a DIA.
  • Businesses who have yet to qualify for state funding or federal assistance including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), Business Interruption Grant (BIG), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), and more
  • Businesses that had less than $5 million in revenue in 2019

How much is the grant?

The grant seeks to replace two months of revenue decline.  The formula takes the difference between 2020 revenue and 2019 revenue, and divides that amount by 6. The total is rounded up to the next $5,000 and is subject to the $150,000 ($250,000 for hotels) limits noted previously.

How do I apply for the grant?

Grant applications are submitted through a portal which is open now and closes at the beginning of October. Unlike the PPP, the State advises applicants that the speed of application is not as important as submitting a complete and accurate application. The application will require the driver’s license of the business owner as well as completed and filed 2019 and 2020 tax returns.

Upon receipt the application will be graded based on the priority groups outlined above.  For example, a restaurant in a DIA area that has a significant reduction in receipts but did not qualify for a PPP loan or RRF assistance would receive a high priority score. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis based on priority.

As with prior initiatives, Cray Kaiser is here to support you with application assistance.  Please contact Cray Kaiser if we can help in any way.