reopen barber 051420PARK FOREST – A total of 26 local businesses have been awarded a combined $480,000 in grants through the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program, prompting State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Park Forest) to extend his congratulations to the recipients.

“Small businesses give so much to our community, but right now they are struggling to stay afloat,” Joyce said. “BIG grants can help these establishments move one step closer to financial recovery.”

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. The BIG program offers grants to Illinois restaurants and bars, barbershops and salons, and fitness centers that have suffered pandemic-related losses, with a focus on businesses in the hardest-hit areas of the state.

First round grants range from $10,000 to $20,000 and may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs, rent and utilities. The funds may also be used to cover pandemic-related expenses, such as personal protective equipment, training and new technology.

“I am committed to supporting relief efforts so businesses affected by this crisis can come out on top,” Joyce said. “I encourage any area business searching for financial relief to apply for future rounds of Business Interruption Grants.”

To ensure ongoing support for Illinois small businesses, the State of Illinois has planned future rounds of funding. The BIG program is the largest state-run economic support program formed in response to the COVID-19 economic downturn. The full list of grant recipients is available here.