Illinois finds $50M in pandemic aid for restaurants

Another $75 million was found for hotels. The money is intended to ease a transition from survival to sustained recovery.
Gov. Pritzker / Photo: Shutterstock

The pipeline of pandemic aid to restaurants hasn’t completely run dry.

Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker announced Tuesday that his state has earmarked $50 million to help restaurants make the transition from pandemic survival to stable, ongoing success. The funds will be awarded to all qualifying establishments in grants of $5,000 to $50,000, with the amount determined by how much revenues fell during the crisis.

Another $75 million has been set aside for hotels at grant levels of up to $1,500 per room.

The state also set aside $50 million for the art community, for a total of $175 million in aid to businesses that were hurt particularly severely by the pandemic.

Applications will be accepted from April 5 through May 10. The governor’s office pledged to alert qualifying recipients of their awards several weeks later.  The state has contracted an outside company, National Community Reinvestment Coalition Community Development Fund, to handle the application process.

Restaurants that previously received financial aid from the state are ineligible for the new round of grants. Foodservice recipients of federal aid, including money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), can still qualify.

Hotels’ awards will be adjusted to reflect the aid they have previously received on both the state and federal level.

Illinois said it will use past tax filings to assess the damage applicants suffered while extraordinary measures were in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

The moneys will be channeled down to recipients via 100 “community navigators,” an arrangement that sounds similar to the U.S.  Small Business Administration’s reliance on local banks to process and award guaranteed loans.

"These restaurant grants are a lifeline for local restaurants that are continuing to recover from the past few years," Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said in a statement issued by Pritzker’s office.

"My administration is committed to helping small business owners move past survival and onto long-term success—and this latest investment of $175 million in B2B grants does exactly that," Pritzker said in the announcement.

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