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Belt announces 25 local businesses to receive state business grant

Published: Friday, August 14, 2020 04:59 PM

belt 010620EAST ST. LOUIS – With so many small business owners facing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) announced 25 local businesses will receive a combined $430,000 through the Business Interruption Grant program.

“I’m glad to see many local small businesses took advantage of this grant opportunity to receive some financial relief from this pandemic,” Belt said. “I understand it will take more than a grant for many of these businesses to fully recover. However, this is still a great step in helping the regrowth of these businesses.” 

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 PPE, training and new technology.

To ensure ongoing support for Illinois small businesses, the State of Illinois has planned future rounds of funding, including a special program for child care providers. The application deadline for this program is Aug. 14.

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.

Belt, Crowe urge Metro East residents to complete 2020 Census

Published: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 12:14 PM

census 081120Lawmakers concerned by low response rates in St. Clair County

EAST ST. LOUIS – With time running out to count households and St. Clair county recording low response rates, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) and State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) encourage Metro East residents to complete the 2020 Census. 

“We have to fill out the census before it's too late,” Belt said. “This simple action determines so much about the resources provided to our community. This is the first step in solving injustices, in public health, racial equity and even law enforcement. The Census Bureau needs the most accurate data in order to help us help ourselves.”

“To ensure our region is counted efficiently and allotted the necessary federal aid, every household is responsible for completing the census,” Crowe said. “If your household has responded, you can help by talking to your family members, friends and neighbors about how simple it is. It takes minutes to complete and makes a difference in our communities for years to come.”

Seven municipalities in St. Clair County and one in Madison County have a rate of 49.9% or lower on the statewide response rate list. The cities and villages included by name and rate listed are:

  • Washington Park – 31.4%
  • Brooklyn – 39.1%
  • Venice (Madison County) – 41.9%
  • Alorton – 43.1%
  • East St. Louis – 44.2%
  • Centreville – 49.4%
  • Fairmont City – 49.7%
  • Cahokia – 49.9%

Residents can complete the census for their household at www.my2020census.gov.

Belt supports new IDHS mental health programs

Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2020 09:59 AM

belt 030520EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) applauds the Illinois Department of Human Services for creating three new mental health programs for Illinoisans in need of help during a challenging time. 

“The COVID-19 virus has not only hurt people’s physical health — it has also diminished the mental health of many,” Belt said. “Providing residents with mental health resources will support them during the overwhelming stress of the pandemic.” 

The Illinois Department of Human Services announced the new mental health programs Monday to provide additional support for Illinoisans. The agency worked with community mental health centers and non-traditional service providers to develop capacity and to deliver clinical services and non-traditional supports. 

The first new program — pegged as the Living Room Program — is designed specifically for those in need of a crisis respite program to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. It provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where people can calmly process a crisis event while learning how to avoid a future crisis. 

The Transitional Living Centers Program is a housing resource for people who have mental illnesses and who are in need of an immediate place to stay while they work to find permanent housing. 

Additionally, the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs are for people who are currently in IDHS State Operated Psychiatric Hospitals and preparing to be discharged. It will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cell phones, food, clothing, transportation, and other resources that are necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition back into communities. 

Individuals seeking help from the Living Room Program may seek help directly or be referred by first responders or medical professionals. Participants of the other two programs will be referred by IDHS and other providers.

For more information and to find additional mental health resources, click here.

Belt announces summer jobs available for area youth through Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House Organization

Published: Thursday, July 30, 2020 02:46 PM

teen work 073020EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) is thrilled to announce the expansion of Illinois Department of Human Services’ COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program, creating additional employment opportunities for underserved youth in the Metro East area.

“Early work experience is an important tool for improving future employment prospects and salary potential for low-income youth,” Belt said. “This program will play an important role in helping our youth learn new skills and find worthwhile careers.”

The program will employ young adults in the Metro East area in July and August 2020, helping them train for and find work despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House Organization is placing youth employees in age, ability and experience appropriate work-based learning opportunities, while offering career development. Jobs are available in St. Clair and Madison Counties.

The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House Organization is one of 30 youth employment providers across the state and received $500,000 in grant funding to employ 100 area youth. 

Sen. Christopher Belt

Senator Christopher Belt

57th District

Years served: 2019–Present

Committee assignments: Criminal Law; Education (Vice-Chairperson); Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; Licensed Activities; Subcommittee on Special Issues (IN); Opioid Crisis Abatement Spec. Com..

Associated Representatives:
LaToya Greenwood
Jay Hoffman