HIGHLAND PARK, IL - Nearly half of the quarter-billion dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated to Illinois' Back to Business grant program have been distributed, state officials announced.
The Back to Business, or B2B, program has provided 2,913 grants totaling more than $111 million to small businesses located in Highland Park, Highwood and more than 300 other towns across Illinois since the first round of grantees was announced in September.
Grants range from $5,000 to $150,000, depending on the degree of financial loss experienced by qualifying businesses.
Applications closed in October, but state officials will keep notifying businesses of the status of their applications until the rest of the $250 million in funds is depleted, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
"As of this week, we have provided nearly 3,000 small businesses with grants to cover their operating losses due to the pandemic," Sylvia Garcia, acting director of the commerce department, said in a statement. "We will continue to process applications on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded, delivering recovery dollars as quickly as possible to communities across Illinois and reinvigorating our economy."
As of Thursday, nine Highland Park and Highwood had been awarded grants totaling $150,000. They include:
Sarlas Music, $35,000
Bellamani Nail Salon and Spa, $10,000
Childrens Theatre Company, $5,000
Slyce Coal Fired Pizza Company, $35,000
Celeste Beauty Salon, $20,000
Marco's Northside Grill, $20,000
Lakewood Cleaners, $10,000
Performance Factory Training, $10,000
H2O Pool Services, $5,000
Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, the $1.9 trillion economic relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.
According to the Pritzker administration, it builds on the 2020 Business Interruption Grant program, or BIG, which distributed $580 to small businesses and childcare providers.
Among recipients of the B2B grants, 43 percent are businesses that applied to the BIG program but did not receive funding. Hard-hit industries such as taverns, hotels, arts organizations and salons accounted for 71 percent of grants, with 79 percent going to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenues.
Pritzker has leveraged $1.5 billion in federal ARPA funds during the current fiscal year to invest in the businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to his office.
"The men and women of the General Assembly worked with me to craft the Back to Business program," Pritzker said in a statement. "These are not loans, so businesses getting help won't owe a cent back to the state."
This article originally appeared on the Highland Park Patch