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Regional Partnership Connects More Small Businesses to Potential Grant Funds

The Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program provides up to $25,000 in grant funds intended to cover 60 days of working capital for the “non-essential” businesses forced to close or drastically reduce operations because of the Stay at Home order from Governor Pritzker.

Following Pritzker’s executive order at the end of March, the State of Illinois acted quickly to create this pool of funding by repurposing pre-existing Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds—typically awarded to states and larger city governments for various community and economic development projects—to make them accessible to small businesses in downstate Illinois.

But the pre-existing rules governing these federally-sourced CDBG funds has created a challenging application process for small businesses.  Because of these rules, no private business can apply directly to the state for CDBG funds. Instead, a unit of local government must apply for the grant on behalf of a business and then, if awarded, distribute and administer the grant funds to an approved business.

But many smaller communities do not have the staff capacity or sometimes even the necessary certifications to apply for and then administer CDBG funding.  Potentially, small businesses without a unit of local government in a position to assist could be left unable to apply for this grant.

To ensure businesses in our region have the opportunity to apply for these funds, the Greater Peoria EDC has partnered with the five county governments and economic development partners in our service area—Logan, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties—to create a straightforward application process.   Thanks to the willingness of these five county governments to apply on behalf of their respective business communities, many more small businesses in the region now have an opportunity to apply.

Each application for the grant funds requires a coordinated effort between the business and the county government.  To ease this multi-faceted application process as much as possible, the GPEDC has been providing guidance and coordination, technical assistance, and grant writing  to pull the many pieces together for both the businesses and the county governments.  

To start, GPEDC wanted to simplify the application for businesses.  By creating a step-by-step application portal on our www.gpcovid.com resource page, over 120 businesses have successfully started their application process with their county government.  Currently, dedicated GPEDC staff with assistance from our economic development partners throughout the region, we are in the process of reviewing and improving every single application.

GPEDC is also working to ease the process for the counties by taking on many of the technical tasks required for seeking CDBG funds such as compiling the proper legal notices and paperwork required of governments seeking public funds.

We are proud to be coordinating this effort alongside a team of dedicated local public servants working together to connect our region’s small businesses to this grant opportunity.  Ultimately, the State of Illinois will decide which businesses get a grant and the amount of funds awarded. But we are confident that our regional approach to problem solving during this crisis is sure to bring some much needed financial relief to some of the small businesses that make our communities so vibrant.

The initial application deadline has passed for businesses in Logan, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties interested in applying for this grant.  Following the processing and submission of this first round of businesses, GPEDC and the counties will reassess the need for additional rounds based on business interest, availability of funds, and the capacity to manage additional grants.

For questions about the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program coordination in the Greater Peoria region, contact tdahlhoff@greaterpeoriaedc.org

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