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Was Your Small Business Shut Out Of Coronavirus Relief Grants? A New State Program Could Help

The Six Corners Association is one of 21 community groups that can help business owners apply for grants of $5,000-$150,000.

The Six Corners Chamber of Commerce recently added new neighborhood banners to the Portage Park area.
Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Small businesses that haven’t received pandemic assistance can apply for help under a new state grant program.

The $250 million Back to Business Grant Program, which launched Wednesday, aims to help businesses across the state in hard-hit areas.

The program will give grants to arts and entertainment businesses that didn’t receive Shuttered Venue Operators grants, restaurants and taverns that didn’t receive a Restaurant Revitalization Fund award and businesses that have yet to qualify for other state or federal assistance.

Small businesses in tourism, beauty, fitness and child care also qualify, as well as those that made less than $5 million in revenue in 2019.

Grants will be $5,000-$150,000 and can be used to cover a range of operations, staff or overhead costs, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Small businesses in neighborhoods including Portage Park, Irving Park, Avondale, Humboldt Park, Uptown, Ravenswood, Garfield Park, Back of the Yards and Roseland can apply online. Check the state’s website to see a full map of areas that qualify.

To increase awareness and better target underserved businesses, the state chose 21 Community Navigator organizations to help business owners apply for the money and receive hands-on support.

The Six Corners Association on the Far Northwest Side is one of the groups offering grassroots outreach, language help, webinars, one-on-one technical assistance sessions and more services to access the recovery funds, said group President Amie Zander.

Zander said any Northwest Side business that’s interested should contact the association and make an appointment so they can help them apply and gather necessary documents.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to provide services and that one-on-one support,” Zander said. “Anybody can get the [grant] — it’s not for big businesses; it’s for the little guys. There is no reason why any business on the Northwest Side should not apply.”

Those interested in learning more can attend a Back 2 Business webinar 11 a.m. Thursday.

Other community navigator groups in the city include the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, which is helping South Side businesses to apply for the grant. Businesses on the West and North sides can reach out to the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for help.

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