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50 Normal Businesses Receive Grants To Ease COVID Impacts

According to the Illinois Restaurant Association, 20% of food establishments are expected to remain closed due to COVID-19-related economic fallout. That means nearly 5,100 businesses will be forced to shut their doors permanently.

Fifty businesses have received grants totaling $450,000 from the Town of Normal’s Small Business Relief Program to assist with COVID-19 impacts.

The town had 67 businesses apply for grant. In total they asked for more than $700,000 in assistance-- more than $300,000 than what Normal had to award.

“Helping all of our businesses survive this pandemic is essential,” said Assistant City Manager Eric Hanson. “I think Normal certainly fared very well, in terms of the amount of funds that we were able to bring back to the local economy in support of our small business community.”

Grants were awarded across six categories. Restaurants received the highest allocation of funding, with $192,755 awarded in grants, or 68% of the funds requested in that category.

Destihl Beer Hall, DP Dough, Los Potrillos, Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Original Pancake House, The Rock and Windy City Wieners received the most money.

Businesses could apply for up to $15,000 total, or $5,000 in each category. Grant awards ranged from a minimum of $807 to the $15,000 maximum. The average award was $9,000.

Hanson said the restaurants received the most because they qualified for all three grants, including the Digital and Marketing Support Grant. That involved partnerships with students in Illinois State University’s College of Business. 

Hanson said several businesses were ineligible because they previously received funds from the Business Interruption Grant from the State of Illinois.

“One of the limitations is that if you were a part of that grant program, you couldn't also get CURE small business relief program money. Cause it's like, double-dipping because it's out of the same pot,” Hanson said.

Fewer than five businesses didn’t qualify and didn’t receive funds from the Business Interruption Grant. 

“Applicants not receiving money unfortunately couldn’t provide necessary documentation," said Hanson. "We also saw this from interested businesses. We had 90 businesses express interest, but only 67 applied. In those cases, the state's required documentation was too large an obstacle for the businesses to overcome.”

Mayor Chris Koos said he knows how important the funding is in sustaining many small businesses during these unprecedented times. 

“I can’t thank the Town of Normal enough for administering this program. Staff was fantastic and smart to work with and made the details easier to gather,” said Kristin Moore, owner of Uptown Gifts. “We greatly appreciate all these efforts.”

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