With the release of a second round of funding from Illinois’ Business Interruption Grant program, an additional $220 million was made available Thursday to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August, the first round of the BIG program awarded almost $500,000 to 31 small businesses in McHenry County, according to a news release issued Thursday by the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.
In the release, MCEDC President Jim McConoughey urged local business owners to apply for grant funds as soon as possible by visiting the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.
“Time is of the essence,” McConoughey said. “I encourage McHenry County businesses to take advantage of this funding opportunity.”
Almost 2,800 businesses across the state were awarded an average of $17,000 in the first round of the BIG program, according to the release. First-round recipients in McHenry County included Ethereal Confections in Woodstock, Iron Horse Bar and Grill in Algonquin, Taquería las Cumbres in Crystal Lake and Hidden Pearl Coffee in McHenry.
“The survival of our businesses is critical to the local economy,” McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks said in the release. “Businesses need all the help they can get to overcome the extreme challenges placed on them from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A priority of the second round of BIG funding will be to support disproportionately impacted areas, which are defined as Illinois ZIP codes that have shouldered more than their fair share of the COVID-19 burden for various social or economic reasons, according to the DCEO website.
In McHenry County, the communities of Harvard and Richmond have been identified as disproportionately impacted areas. The second round of BIG funds also will benefit businesses and industries that have been forced to close during the pandemic or have been hit especially hard.
“These grants will provide some relief to those hardest hit, but I urge all residents to continue to do what they can to support our local businesses by shopping and dining locally – especially as we head into the winter months, when it will get even more challenging,” Franks said.