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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Pritzker Touts Business Recovery Grants In Bloomington Visit

J.B. Pritzker speaking at podium
Eric Stock
Gov. JB Pritzker addressed a gathering Thursday at the Bloomington-Normal YMCA and Bloomington-Normal while EDC President Patrick Hoban looks on.

More than two dozen McLean County businesses and non-profits are getting some pandemic relief from the state.

Gov. JB Pritzker visited Bloomington Thursday to tout the first round of the so-called BIG (Business Interruption Grants)--$46 million distributed to more than 2,600 small businesses and organizations across the state to help them recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic.

“They are our local barbers and our diners and our gyms and much more,” Pritzker said. “They are woven into the fabric of our communities and crucially they have borne the brunt of the most severe financial impacts of COVID-19.”

Pritzker made the announcement at the YMCA that received $20,000. The YMCA was forced to close for several months following the shelter-in-place order Pritzker issued in March.

“Those funds will help us to be able to continue to provide the programs that help meet the needs of the folks here in Bloomington-Normal,” said YMCA Board President Al Nathan.

There are 25 recipients in McLean County. All of them expect the YMCA were businesses. Michael Negron, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the YMCA serves as a community anchor, mainly for the kids’ programs that have to keep running.

“Nonprofits are not immune from having to balance their books,” Negron said. “This pandemic has forced many of the same hard choices upon the YMCA that out business are facing right now across the state.”

Pritzker said the administration has set aside several hundred million dollars for the small business grants. He said it remains to be seen how long the grants will be necessary.

“We have significant economic challenges across the United States,” Pritzker said. “I can’t tell you exactly, but we want to help businesses and the Y and other organizations stay open and alive and survive through this,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said this money was critical to help those business that were unable to secure Paycheck Protection Program loans for the federal government. He said most of that money went to businesses that were already doing pretty well.

McLean County also has a small business emergency loan program through the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Center (EDC). 

BIG program grants  also were awarded to businesses that sustained damaged amid civil unrest in June.

All but four of the McLean County recipients are in Bloomington. Normal, Chenoa, Gridley and LeRoy each had one recipient.


$10,000 – Bloomington: Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant, Oh Baby Hair & Day Spa, PlayNormal Esports Café, Prima Beauty Studio, Bloomington, Tiffany Howard (in-home child care).

$20,000 – Bloomington: Bloomington-Normal YMCA, Bloomington Strongman, Castle Theatre, Coffrin’s ATA Martial Arts, Element26, Fitness Quest Personal Training, Game Time Gym II, Hairmasters Institute of Cosmetology, Hustedt Jewelers, Jazz Upfront, Joe's Pub, Meltdown Creative Works, Pizza Ranch, Super Sign Service, Upper Limits, Vrooman Mansion Bed & Breakfast; Chenoa: The Finish Line; Gridley: Fat Alberts; LeRoy: Moraine View LLC; Normal: Joe’s Station House Pizza Pub.

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