The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $636 million program developed by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to provide economic relief for small businesses economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. BIG leverages federal funding provided by the CARES Act to help offset losses related to COVID-19 for small businesses in Illinois.
As the State headed into a new round of Tier 3 closures on November 20, a second round of BIG funding was made available by the Illinois government — a total of $220 million for businesses that meet certain criteria.
Which businesses are eligible?
A larger majority of Illinois small businesses will be eligible for the second round of BIG funding, but there are some limitations. You can see a list of more detailed eligibility guidelines here on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website.
Here are a few eligibility guidelines that may have an impact on your ability to receive funding:
- Must be an independently owned and operated for-profit corporation or limited liability corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship authorized to conduct business in the state of Illinois; OR a 501c3, 501c6, or 501c19 nonprofit.
- Must have been operating for at least three months prior to March 2020.
- Must have had less than $20 million in gross operating revenue in calendar year 2019, or a prorated amount if in operation for less than a year prior to March 2020.
- Must have been closed or had reduced operations due to government orders, public health guidelines, or depressed consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Must have complied with all relevant laws, regulations, and executive orders from the state and federal government, including the social distancing guidelines by the executive orders of the Illinois Governor.
Here are a few businesses that are NOT eligible for the second round of BIG funding:
- A business that derives at least 33% of its gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities
- For example, if 33% or more of your 2019 total gross revenue came from slot machine income, you would not eligible for round 2 BIG funding but be sure to double check all your gross revenue source percentages before ruling this funding option out.
- A business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted (Included in these activities is the production, servicing, or distribution of otherwise legal products that are to be used in connection with an illegal activity, such as selling drug paraphernalia or operating a motel that knowingly permits illegal prostitution.).
- A private club or business that limits membership for reasons other than capacity.
- A business principally engaged in teaching, instructing, counseling, or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether in a religious or secular setting.
- A business that manufactures or sells at wholesale tobacco products or liquor, or manufactures or sells firearms at wholesale or retail.
- A night club or strip club.
- A liquor store.
What is a highly impacted industry?
Highly impacted industries are certain businesses in Illinois that may have suffered the most during the coronavirus pandemic. The second round of BIG funding has set aside $60 million specifically to help these businesses.
Here is a short list of highly impacted industries:
- Event venues
- A business or organization that is engaged in leasing out an on-site location for private events with a capacity that exceeds 100 people. This may include ballrooms, banquet halls, conference centers, and other types of event spaces.
- Over 40% of revenue is derived from event spaces with a capacity that exceeds 100 people, including space leasing fees, food and beverages, audio/video, and group bookings of rooms related to on-site events.
- Music venues
- A business or organization that is a destination for live music consumers, and its music programming is a main driver of its attendance.
- Over 50% of revenue is from ticketing and entrance fees, as well as food and beverages sold to attendees at live music performances.
- Performing arts venues
- A business or organization that has an on-site theater for performing arts, including for plays, opera, symphony, dance, and other forms of performing arts.
- Over 50% of revenue is from ticketing and entrance fees, as well as food and beverages sold to attendees at live performing arts performances.
- Indoor recreation facilities
- Amusement parks
- Movie theaters
- Charter bus services
In addition to the heavily impacted industries, the second round of BIG funding is setting aside funds to focus on disproportionately impacted areas (ZIP codes for communities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19), downstate small businesses, and other priority industries. You can learn more about these on the DCEO’s website here.
Once you have reviewed all the eligibility requirements and gathered any and all necessary documents described on the DCEO’s website, you can begin to fill out your funding application for the second round of BIG here.
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