Metro East legislators urges residents to complete the 2020 census

Published: Monday, September 21, 2020 01:00 PM

PHOTO Metro East legislators urges residents to complete the 2020 censusEAST ST. LOUIS – With the deadline to fill out the 2020 census coming to a close next Wednesday, Metro East legislators and community leaders are urging all St. Clair and Madison County residents to fill out the census to improve the low response rates.

“Filling out the census is an easy process and a 100% response rate is critical in sustaining the quality in community assets such as schools, roads and hospitals,” Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) said. “Sept. 30 is the last day to get counted and millions of dollars in federal funding is at risk if residents don’t take getting counted seriously. I strongly urge all residents to fill out the census before it’s too late.”

Parkhurst, Joyce herald opening of Kankakee State Park Potawatomi Campground

Published: Monday, September 21, 2020 12:42 PM

Parkhurst Joyce 092120KANKAKEE, IL - State Representative Lindsay Parkhurst (R-Kankakee) and State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) reacted to an announcement from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources today that the Kankakee State Park Potawatomi campground is scheduled to reopen October 1. The two legislators worked together closely to cut through red tape of multiple state agencies to get the project completed so the campground, shuttered since 2015 amid a lack of capital funding to complete needed renovations, can finally reopen to the public.

Representative Parkhurst stated, “The Kankakee River State Park is a treasure we need to maintain and protect. I worked and fought for progress on getting both the Potawatomi and Chippewa campgrounds open since taking office in 2017 despite road blocks and administrative red tape at every turn. When Senator Joyce was appointed, I asked for his cooperation and support in this battle and he gladly accepted. We both have deep roots in this community and are happily and successfully working together, despite all the partisan politics in our state, to improve the 79th District. We care about our community and it took both of us, on both sides of the aisle, to accomplish the opening of the campground. Great things can happen when you put community, not politics, first. We will continue to work together to reopen the Chippewa campground.”

Senator Joyce stated, “During my time representing this district, I have worked tirelessly to ensure this remarkable resource is available to residents across this region. I am proud of the bipartisan work Representative Parkhurst and I accomplished to bring this campground to the people we represent. The park is a community staple that I am happy folks will have access to utilize and enjoy. As we kick off the fall season and more families are choosing to travel locally during the pandemic, the timing for the opening of the Kankakee State Park Potawatomi Campground could not be more perfect. We will all continue work together to get Chippewa campgrounds open next.”

For questions or more information, please contact or Representative Parkhurst’s office at (815) 523-7779 or online at or contact Senator Joyce’s office at (708) 756-0882 or online at

Castro encourages local businesses to apply for second round of grants

Published: Friday, September 18, 2020 02:55 PM

sm restaurant 082120ELGIN – To help small businesses deal with undue economic burden caused by COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development has begun accepting applications for a second round of Business Interruption Grants. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is encouraging local businesses who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic to apply.

“The past several months have been hard on all of us, and despite shutdown restrictions being eased, many small businesses are having difficulty paying their staff and keeping their doors open and lights on,” Castro said. “Since small businesses are the backbone of our community, I am encouraging businesses owners to apply for the Business Interruption Grants to help ease some of the pressure they’re under due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The grants are the second in a series of $636 million in funding for struggling small businesses. Nearly $220 million will be awarded, with a particular focus on downstate businesses, businesses in disproportionately affected areas, and businesses in industries and regions that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Businesses outside of these areas are still eligible to apply, but their applications may be reviewed later.

“These grants will help keep people from losing the jobs they’ve worked hard to obtain and shutting down the businesses they’ve worked hard to establish,” Castro said.

Businesses will be informed of a decision regarding their application within four to six weeks of its submission. More information, including eligibility information, can be found on DCEO’s website.

Ellman urges small businesses to apply for round two of BIG Grants

Published: Friday, September 18, 2020 02:34 PM

ellman 052320NAPERVILLE – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, small businesses are still facing added financial hardships, and State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is urging local businesses to apply for assistance through the second round of Business Interruption Grants.

“The challenges that have been created due to this pandemic are truly unprecedented,” Ellman said. “So many in the community have worked tirelessly to follow the latest guidelines. It’s great to see another round of these grants coming to these well-deserving businesses.”

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.

During the program’s first round of funding last month, it granted more than $40 million to small businesses across the state. Businesses in Will and DuPage Counties were awarded over $500,000 in $10,000 to $20,000 grants during the first round.

“These funds have and will continue to give businesses the ability to reopen with the new guidelines and provide a safer environment for employees and customer,” Ellman said.

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.

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