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State Gives $1.7 Million To 58 Small Businesses Looted During Summer’s Civil Unrest

The state of Illinois is also opening up a $10 million corridor improvement grant program to commercial districts impacted by civil unrest.

The inside of a 7-Eleven at State and Hubbard in River North after looting struck Chicago overnight on Monday, August 10, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — A new state program is helping dozens of businesses damaged during civil unrest last summer get back on their feet, sending each an average of $29,000 to rebuild, pay insurance deductibles and other costs.

The first round of funding under the state’s new Rebuild Distressed Communities program awarded $1.7 million to 58 small businesses who experienced looting or other damage during last summer’s period of civil unrest, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Friday.

The 58 businesses are family- and locally-owned operations in neighborhoods throughout the city that saw looting activity following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Another wave of property damage, largely confined to Downtown, came later in the summer following a police shooting in Englewood.

Businesses that received funding through the program include: Roseland Pharmacy, City Sports in Uptown, Fine General Merchandise in West Garfield Park, Mary’s Barbecue in Humboldt Park, V Tone Fitness in Rogers Park and Shoe Time in Chatham, among others.

Grants averaged $29,000 and can be used to reimburse the cost of damages, insurance deductibles and construction work needed following the civil unrest, according to the state.

“While the pandemic has presented unfathomable challenges for all small businesses, some have been faced with a difficult, second rebuilding following damages related to civil unrest,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement. “The Rebuild Distressed Communities program was developed to help these business owners overcome costs that are too difficult to muster alone, funding storefront repairs and bringing back services that communities depend on.”

The state’s economic opportunity department partnered with LISC Chicago and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to help select applicants to receive funding. Preference was given to businesses in locations where the damage was the most severe, according to the state.

Credit: Vashon Jordan Jr.
Boards protecting a Bronzeville business are spraypainted with “Black owned” and “Black Lives Matter” on June 1, following civil unrest and looting caused by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

Additional funding rounds for businesses impacted by looting will be awarded.

“The civil unrest of 2020, in conjunction with the pandemic, have created havoc for many businesses especially for small businesses in communities of color,” Meghan Harte, Executive Director of LISC Chicago, said in a statement. “The success of these small businesses is critical to sustaining and building thriving communities.”

The small business grants are just part of the state’s $25 million Rebuild Distressed Communities program. The program will also award a $10 million grant for corridor improvements in an area impacted by civil unrest.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is seeking applications for the $10 million corridor improvement program. Interested nonprofits, government entities, business improvement districts and special service areas that saw looting can apply for the grant funding from April 5- June 7.

That part of the initiative will “spark long term economic investment for communities in need,” Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Sylvia Garcia said.

For more information on the program, click here.

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