A McLean County pandemic-relief loan program remains unused as more options emerge for struggling businesses.
The latest option is BIG (Business Interruption Grants).
The $60 million program run by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provides grants of up to $20,000 for bars, restaurants and gyms and fitness centers. Barbershops and hair salons can get up to $10,000 each. The program also offers grants of up to $20,000 for businesses in certain areas damaged by recent looting.
Businesses in the 61701 zip code in Bloomington are eligible for grants of up to $20,000.
The deadline to apply is July 7. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.
Patrick Hoban, president and CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, said the grants come at a key time as federal grants will run out soon. Today is the deadline to submit applications for the Paycheck Protection Program and Hoban noted Congress may not approve more money.
“If things start getting back to normal, we probably won’t see funding, but if unemployment still hovers high, I believe we are going to see more funding come around,” Hoban said.
Hoban said 21 McLean County businesses have requested applications for emergency loans through the EDC and McLean County’s $600,000 Targeted Development Loan Program that was retooled to provide a lifeline to struggling businesses during the pandemic.
Hoban said only one business has submitted an application and is still awaiting approval, adding the funding is intended as a last resort for businesses needing help.
“As long as the grants are on the table, the loans are not going to get used,” he said.
Hoban said he expects more applications will be submitted once federal and state funding could be exhausted.
Illinois previously issued $1.3 million in grants through its Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. No McLean County businesses received funds.
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