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Updated 7/30/2020

University of Illinois Extension's Community & Economic Development Team is dedicated to helping small businesses across Illinois navigate this difficult time. Check out this list of grants and loans available for small businesses affected by COVID-19. The list is updated as new programs are added and others are closed. 

Many loans and grants for those businesses affected by COVID-19 are closed or in their final stages.  Those still open as of today’s date are listed below. Those still needing additional working capital should:

  1. contact your local SBA lender to talk about a line of credit or the opportunity to term out some short-term debt that you have accumulated during the pandemic.
  2. contact your local Small Business Development Center to discuss SBA loan products. The SBDCs may also have information on local grant and loan programs available in your area.  Find your local SBDC office in Illinois.
  3. Many communities in Illinois have developed small grant and micro-loan programs for small businesses in their communities affected by COVID-19.  Check with your local Economic or Community Development organization for further information.


LISC Small Business Relief Fund Opens

Round 5 Applications due August 3

Another round of LISC’s Small Business Relief fund recently opened. Businesses can receive grants between $5,000 and $20,000 to pay for rent and utilities, payroll, outstanding debt and other immediate operational expenses. Priority given to entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically under-served places who don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital.  Applications are due 10:59 pm on Monday, August 3.

State of Illinois Announces New Business Assistance Programs

The Governor of Illinois has announced several new relief programs for both households and businesses.  The full list of programs can be found here.  Within that list are two programs targeting businesses: $540 million for the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program and $25 million for the Distressed Capital Program.  Following is information regarding the BIG grant program.

The Business Interruption Grant

The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July. The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been set aside for childcare providers and is funded by the CARES Act. In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in “Disproportionately Impacted Areas” (DIA). Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount, since March and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure. Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020. An emphasis will also be placed on those businesses that are located in areas that have experienced recent property damage due to civil unrest, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.  Applications for BIG are available here.

Reminder: Illinois Business Interruption Grant First Round Applications Due July 7

The state of Illinois is now accepting applications for the first round of its Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program.  The program will allocate $60 million in grants in this first round to bars and restaurants; barbershops, salons and other licensed personal service businesses; gyms and fitness centers; and other businesses types located in the “disproportionately impacted area” zip codes of 61603, 61604, 61605, 61606 and 61610. A map of all DIAs in the state can be found here (bottom of page). For full details, click here.

Illinois Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

The first round of downstate small business stabilization grants has been awarded. A total of $1.3 million in grants have been deployed to 65 businesses spanning 28 downstate communities. See the full list of grant recipients here.

This grant program for downstate small businesses is still open.  Funds are available for 60 days of verifiable working capital up to a grant ceiling of $25,000 for private for-profit small retail and service businesses or businesses considered non-essential with less than 50 employees. The business must have been in business and good standing with the State of Illinois since January 1, 2017. Only units of local government may apply. Municipalities must not be a HUD direct entitlement community or be located in an urban county that receives “entitlement funds.” Small businesses must work with their local governments. Local governments should contact the Community Development Division of the Illinois DCEO. This webinar recording from Il-DCEO describes the entire application process, including eligibility.

Low Interest Rate Loans & Forgivable loans

CARES ACT – Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications July 6, 2020, at 9:00 AM EDT in response to the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8, 2020. 

On June 5, a bill was signed that provided more flexibility to businesses who participated in the Paycheck Protection Program.  Among the important changes are the extension of the loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks versus 8 weeks; and reduces the amount that needed to be paid toward payroll from 75% to 60%  There is still over $100 billion available for the program.

Eligible businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.

US SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The SBA is still accepting applications for the EIDL; however the EIDL Advance program has ended.  Check the website to begin an application.

  • These are working capital loans used to pay business expenses.
  • Eligible entities may qualify for loans up to $2 million
  • Interest rates are 3.75% for small businesses, 2.75% for nonprofit organizations; terms up to 30 years; first payment deferred for one year.
  • SBA is encouraging small businesses to apply as soon as possible as loans are first come, first served.  Please apply directly to SBA’s Disaster Assistance Program
  • In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. The EIDL Advance is designed to provide emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan.

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
Although this loan fund was temporarily halted due to the level of loan applications, it appears they are again accepting applications. 

Illinois DCEO’s lending partners are now accepting official applications. Email the office for assistance or questions.

  • Eligible businesses must be located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019.  Payments will be deferred six months and then borrowers will begin making fixed payments at 3% annual interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term. There is no pre-payment penalty.
  • Loan funds must be used for working capital, and at least 50% of loans proceeds must be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group healthcare benefits. Eligible uses will exclude compensation in excess of $100,000.
  • Businesses must be located in Illinois and have experienced at least a 25% decrease in revenues as a result of COVID-19. Please ensure ability to provide bank statements dating back to October 2019 and most recent tax returns.  At this time, non-profits and farm businesses that would traditionally qualify under the USDA’s farm loan program are not eligible.

If you see a need for a correction, or have a question, please contact Pam Schallhorn.

Pam Schallhorn is a University of Illinois Extension Specialist in Community and Economic Development specializing in small business development and entrepreneurship. Previously, she was a Vice President of Commercial Lending for several banks and served as the Director of the Small Business Development Center in Rockford, Illinois. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in political studies. Her office is in Springfield. Contact Pam