Community Navigator Program & Back to Business Grant

Community Navigator Program

July 2, 2021 – Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in announcing a $9 million investment to expand the community navigator outreach program to help small businesses take advantage of economic recovery grant programs. An expansion to the existing community navigator program leverages 13 community navigator organizations that will provide support for small businesses statewide who require assistance navigating billions of financial assistance dollars available from the State of Illinois and the U.S. Small Business Administration as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Community navigators will perform intensive outreach to ensure that small and hard-to-reach businesses are aware of economic relief funds available. Additionally, navigators will provide 1-on-1 technical assistance to support businesses in understanding how to access relief.

Learn more about DCEO’s Community Navigator program here.

Financial Assistance

Back to Business (B2B) Grant Program

The $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program aims to deploy small businesses recovery grants for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The B2B grant program builds on the success of last year’s Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program – an equity-focused business relief program, which directed $290 million to 9,000 businesses in 98 communities across Illinois.

Funding available:
  • $250 million to small businesses across the state that experienced losses in 2020 due to COVID-19, including the following set-asides:
    • $100 million – Businesses located in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) – see DIA Map here
    • $30 million – Arts and Entertainment businesses that didn’t receive Shuttered Venue Operators grants
    • $25 million – Restaurants and taverns that didn’t receive the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
    • $25 million – Hotels
    • $25 million – Businesses that didn’t receive a BIG grant due to exhaustion of funds
  • Grants will range from $5,000 to $150,000 per business and can be used to cover a wide range of operations/staff/overhead costs
    • Up to $250,000 for hotels
Eligibility requirements:
  • Businesses with revenues of $20 million or less in 2019 and a reduction in revenue in 2020 due to COVID-19
    • $35 million or less for hotels
  • Priority will be given to the following categories:
    • Hard-hit industries (see eligibility guidelines for a full list of priority industries and their definitions)
    • Hard-hit areas – DIAs comprising of 176 zip codes
    • Businesses who have yet to qualify for state funding or federal assistance (including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), business Interruption Grant (BIG), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), and more)
    • Businesses that had less than $5 million in revenue in 2019
  • Learn about eligibility guidelines
How to apply:
  • The Back to Business application portal is now open
    • Applications can be tracked in real-time
  • Documentation needed:
    • Business owner ID (ITIN business owners eligible)
    • Business’s 2019 AND 2020 Federal tax returns
    • Two (2) business bank statements – one from the period April through December 2020, and most recent statement
  • Prepare for the application process early by learning about the information and documents required
  • List of Frequently Asked Questions

All B2B program information can be found on DCEO’s website.

Webinars & Events

View all upcoming Back 2 Business webinars here, offered multiple times per week (day & evening).

Hub & Spokes

Have questions and/or need technical assistance? Reach out to a Community Navigator (listed below) for free & confidential assistance. All organizations provide technical assistance to businesses, with a focus on underserved businesses including minority, rural, veteran and women-owned businesses.

Hub: Champaign County Economic Development Corporation

Spokes:

Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
(Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC)

    • Main Contact: Jordan Landeck
    • Email: edc@champaigncountyedc.org
    • Phone: 217-840-0380
    • Coverage Area: Champaign County, Shelby County, Ford County, Iroquois County, DeWitt County, Moultrie County, Cumberland County

Economic Development Corporation of Decatur – Macon County

    • Main Contact: Brandy Poshard
    • Email: info@decaturedc.com 
    • Phone: 217-422-9520
    • Coverage Area: Macon County

Vermilion Advantage

Monticello Chamber of Commerce

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce

Champaign County Black Chamber of Commerce

    • Main Contact: Will Kyles
    • Email: wkyles@ilbcc.org
    • Phone: 217-552-3625
    • Coverage Area: Champaign County

New American Welcome Center (NAWC) at the University YMCA

Tuscola Chamber & Economic Development, Inc.