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Illinois Emergency Small Business Grant

and Loan Assistance

Updated as of 10/26

Under the leadership of Governor JB Pritzker, The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is working with partners to launch emergency assistance programs for Illinois small businesses. 

Updated 10/16: Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Program round 2 now open

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the second round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) today will be providing $200 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures.



  • For-profit and nonprofit entities with $20 million or less in annual revenue in 2019 (annualized for businesses that started after January 2019) and experienced losses due to COVID-19.

  • Grant size will be calculated based on revenue losses and/or expenses over that last two months, and will range from $5,000 - $150,000.

Application process:

  • Please visit IL DCEO website for application details, checklist, FAQs, and eligible cost list as well as to submit your application

  • Applications for the second round of BIG Program will be accepted on the afternoon of Thursday 9/17.

  • DCEO will begin accepting applications through their grant administration partner Accion.


The second wave of funds includes the following provisions to ensure a wide distribution of funds geographically and across business type:

  • Heavily Impacted Industries - $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theaters, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, and more.

  • Disproportionately Impacted Areas - $70 million set aside for DIAs, defined by zip codes identified by the General Assembly for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19. A map of DIAs can be accessed here.

  • Downstate Communities – DCEO has committed to ensuring that at least half of all remaining funds, totaling more than $100 million, are reserved for businesses in downstate and rural communities of Illinois that includes all counties except Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will.

  • Priority Businesses – Apart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, applications from the following types of businesses will be prioritized for review for remaining funds: businesses directly affected by regional mitigation implemented by the state or local governments, independently owned retail, tourism- and hospitality-related industries including accommodations, and more.

  • Agriculture - $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions. Applications will be available in the coming weeks from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

  • Grants and Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients - As authorized by the General Assembly, DCEO will offer grants for businesses that have incurred eligible costs to offset loans received under the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan program. This round of loan forgiveness and grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset going forward as DCEO and its partners focus on making BIG awards.

  • Businesses outside the categories listed above are also eligible to apply and receive funding under the program but may be reviewed later than priority businesses. All businesses will receive a decision on their grant application within four to six weeks of application submission.

Important Application updates and troubleshooting:

  • If you have questions or are experiencing technical difficulties, please submit a question to the BIG Helpdesk via the following forms for assistance with your application in either English or Spanish

  • Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

  • Take care to submit a complete and correct application. Additional time needed to submit will not impact your eligibility or chances of receiving a grant.

  • The BIG application has a file size limit of 25MBs.

  • If your required documents will exceed this limit, please use the alternate file upload process offered at the bottom of the application form. You should only need this for a Heavily Impacted Industry (more guidance forthcoming).

  • Due to the high volume of grant applications, you may experience delays submitting your application due to web traffic ("504 Error") or other errors.

  • The IL DCEO recommends saving your application answers in a separate document prior to submitting to reduce submission time should you experience technical difficulties and need to resume the application process at a later time.

  • If you previously had issues submitting your application due to rejected FEIN or Account numbers, you may need to clear your browser cache or start a new application.


  • There are webinar recordings on tips and how to fill out the BIG Application in both English and Spanish on the IL DCEO BIG website. 

  • There are also live webinars through the end of October. 

For assistance and questions:

  • Questions are answered via the BIG Help Desk (managed by the IL DECO's grant administration partner Accion) in English and Spanish.

  • DCEO Team Regional Economic Development (RED) – Regional Liaisons are available in 10 regions across the state. Find your local Team RED member here.

  • DCEO Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) – OMEEs dedicated program managers advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups and can assist you with BIG. Contact info here or email


Updated 10/26: Rebuild Distressed Communities Program

Rebuild Distressed Communities is a $25 million economic recovery program to support economically distressed Illinois businesses and communities that have sustained property damage due to civil unrest on or after May 25th, 2020.

  • DCEO has partnered with two community organizations, Local Initiative Services Corporation (LISC) and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Inc. (CNI), to operate the program on behalf of DCEO.

  • The Rebuild Distressed Communities grant program will reimburse the cost of repairs for structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.

  • For work yet to be completed, LISC and CNI will partner with local contractors and pay for them to perform the work.


This program will prioritize:

  • small businesses,

  • women and minority-owned businesses,

  • underinsured or uninsured businesses,

  • businesses that have a high community impact, such as grocery stores,

  • and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment.

  • The program also prioritizes the use of BEP-certified contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, to do the repair work.


  • Businesses and nonprofits that have sustained property damage due to civil unrest that occurred on or after May 25, 2020, and are located in economically distressed zip codes identified by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) as having sustained property damage due to civil unrest. 

  • The list of zip codes is here.

  • Nonprofits that can make neighborhood capital improvements in impacted commercial corridors are also eligible to apply. Applications and additional materials for neighborhood improvements are forthcoming.

Application process:

  • As of October 26th, the program is not yet accepting applications but will begin in the coming days.

  • Visit the IL DCEO website to review the application, FAQs, and checklist to prepare your application.


  • IL DCEO, LISC, and CNI will be hosting webinars from 10/28 - 11/6 to provide potential applicants with an overview of the Rebuild Distressed Communities grant opportunity, the grant application, and required documentation.

  • Check the IL DCEO website for exact dates, times, and how to sign up

For Assistant and Questions: 


​Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

  • DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are establishing the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses low-interest loans of up to $50,000.

  • Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. 

  • Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months, and will then begin making fixed payments at a below-market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term. 

  • View full details and apply, go to the DCEO application website. 


  • As of 6/1 update from the DCEO office: "DCEO and our lending partners are continuing to review the large number of submitted loan applications we have received.  To allow us to process received applications as quickly as possible, we are temporarily suspending the acceptance of applications from businesses. Please refer back to the DCEO website and follow us on social media, and subscribe to their newsletter to stay updated on upcoming opportunities.

  • Review the Frequently Asked Questions before applying.

  • For assistance with additional questions, please email


Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

To support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois, DCEO is re-purposing $20 million in CDBG funds to stand up the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. 

  • This fund will offer small businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. These grants will be offered on a rolling basis.​

  • View full details (which includes a downloadable guidebook and FAQs) on the DCEO application website.



  • As of 6/1 update from the DCEO office: "DCEO and our lending partners are continuing to review the large number of submitted loan applications we have received.  To allow us to process received applications as quickly as possible, we are temporarily suspending the acceptance of applications from businesses. 

  • Refer to the DCEO website and follow us on social media, and subscribe to their newsletter to stay updated on upcoming opportunities.

  • Local governments can apply on behalf of businesses with 50 employees or less.

    • Only units of local government recognized by the Illinois Constitution and able to support economic development activities on a sufficient scale are eligible to apply for Economic Development grant funding.  This includes cities, villages, and counties.  Municipalities must not be a HUD direct Entitlement community or be located in an urban county that receives "entitlement" funds. 

  • A map of eligible areas of the state can be accessed on the DCEO website, see “Staff Contact Information.”

    • Businesses in the eligible areas should work with their local governments to submit applications. 

  • Application materials are posted here. 

  • Unfortunately, Bloomington and Normal are NOT eligible​​.

  • Rural communities of McLean County that ARE eligible

    • Chenoa,El Paso, LeRoy, Lexington, Anchor, Arrowsmith, Bellflower, Carlock, Colfax, Cooksville, Danvers, Downs, Ellsworth, Gridley, Heyworth, Hudson, McLean, Saybrook, Stanford, Towanda



Assistance and questions: 

  • Reach out to the grant manager in your area via email, or call the Office of Community Development at (217)785-6174.

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