theater 091620AURORA – Small businesses continue to confront financial hardships as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is encouraging business owners to apply for assistance through the second round of Business Interruption Grants.

“So many local businesses have faced unprecedented 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. “Our small businesses have been resourceful and flexible in adapting to new safety guidelines, and I hope this will give them the assistance they need to bounce back.”

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 this time of crisis and ensure they have the resources to open safely in the coming months.

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 affected businesses in this round’s categories to apply for funding as soon as they can.”

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