In a Jan. 20 statement, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) said that more than $111 million in grant money has been allocated to nearly 3,000 small businesses across the state since September.

The Back to Business Grant program was designed to assist businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money for the program came from American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds. In total, the state seeks to give out $250 million to small businesses affected by the pandemic.

Eligible businesses include those with revenues of $20 million or less ($35 million or less for hotels) that experienced reduced revenue in 2020 due to COVID-19, as well as those that are in hard-hit industries and/or located in areas that were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The seven Forest Park businesses that received funds include Goldyburgers ($15,000), a Subway franchise ($20,000), Arts Language Music Alliance ($5,000), Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures ($115,000), O’Sullivan’s Public House ($10,000), Dolphin Promotions ($150,000) and Beacon Pub ($10,000).

“The men and women of the General Assembly worked with me to craft the Back to Business program,” Pritzker said in the Jan. 20 statement.

“It’s $250 million in grants to help small businesses rehire staff, cover operating costs, and afford additional customer safety precautions. These are not loans, so businesses getting help won’t owe a cent back to the state.”

Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said the grants are “successfully helping the small businesses that are cornerstones in our communities sustain and grow. Our administration is fully committed to stepping up for small businesses, providing them the resources needed to continue being a pathway of opportunity for entrepreneurs and jobs throughout Illinois.”

State officials said that more than half of the Back to Business grants have been allocated to businesses owned by people of color, with 25% going to Asian American or Pacific Islander-owned businesses, 17% going to Black-owned businesses and 13% going to Latinx-owned businesses.

They said 43% of the latest round of grants went to businesses that applied for grants last year but did not receive funding. Nearly 80% of grants went to businesses located in DIAs), 71% went to hard-hit industries, including restaurants and hotels.

In addition, 62% of the grant funding went to businesses with revenue under $500,000 in 2019 while 79% went to businesses with revenue under $1 million.

“Businesses will continue to be notified of their application status throughout the next few weeks until all the funds are exhausted,” said state officials.