music venue1 091720ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) is encouraging local businesses to apply for assistance through the second round of Business Interruption Grants to combat financial hardships.

“We’re in a time where thousands of small businesses are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty,” Gillespie said. “This program will help provide some stability and give out small businesses a helping hand.”

The BIG Program has allocated $220 million in the second round for movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues and more to help them stay afloat through these uncertain times and make sure they have the means to open safely in the coming months.

BIG funds can 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. Wheeling businesses may qualify for part of the $70 million. For a full list of eligible ZIP codes, click here.

During the program’s first round of funding in August, it granted more than $40 million to small businesses across Illinois in the form of $10,000 to $20,000 grants.

“The state’s continuing to do what’s necessary and what’s required to help the business community stay afloat,” Gillespie said. “I encourage any small business that is struggling to apply for relief as soon as applications go live.”

Applications open tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 17 and can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website alongside a full list of criteria.