Aurora Gets $1.2 Million in Final Round of State Small Business, Commercial Corridor Grants

Aurora Gets $1.2 Million in Final Round of State Small Business, Commercial Corridor Grants

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, announced $8.4 million in additional grants for small businesses and commercial corridors located around the state to help rebuild and revitalize in the wake of last year’s civil unrest.

The final round of Rebuild Distressed Communities provides $976,000 to 26 small businesses and $7.45 million to help revitalize seven commercial corridors located across the state.

As part of that final round, the city of Aurora will land $1.2 million for corridor enhancements.

“During the civil unrest that unfolded in the summer of 2020, 85 businesses and organizations throughout the city of Aurora were the victims of burglaries, criminal damage, and arsons,” said Aurora Police Chief Keith Cross. “This grant will allow us to protect our businesses, residents and visitors into the future and will provide real-time information that will help direct the daily response of our public safety personnel.”

In the state of Illinois news release, Gov. JB Pritzker said the final round of grants builds on the impact of the $250 million Back to Business program.

“A strong pandemic economic recovery includes recognizing that some communities have long been denied their fair share of resources,” he said.

The RDC program was launched last year by the state of Illinois to help businesses and communities rebuild from civil unrest. In addition to awarding grants to help impacted small business repair damages and rebuild or expand, the program also requested proposals from communities seeking to deliver long-term improvements along commercial corridors where businesses experienced damages during civil unrest.

Overall, the RDC program will deploy a total $9.2 million, including 58 small business grants announced earlier this year.

“DCEO is committed to leveraging our federal and state resources to help small businesses and communities hardest hit build back better in the wake of the pandemic,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia I. Garcia. “The investments made in this latest round of funding are two fold, helping small businesses repair immediate damages, while also making capital improvements in communities that will bring back foot traffic to commercial corridors and boost economic vitality.”

The state of Illinois worked with grant administrators LISC Chicago and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to select applicants to receive funding. Working with these local partners, DCEO developed a process to connect small businesses with qualified contractors.

The program prioritized local and Business Enterprise Program contractors to ensure that job opportunities created by performing repairs and improvements went to those based in communities impacted by unrest.

Funding awarded to small businesses will pave the way for an array of repairs as well as new construction projects to enhance the viability of local businesses and the communities they serve.

Grants will help cover the cost of reimbursement for damages, insurance deductibles, and construction work related to repairs as a result of civil unrest. The entire list of business grantees are available on DCEO’s website, linked here.

In addition to the small business grants, RDC grants include funding for seven community projects focused on boosting economic vitality in commercial corridors across the state.

The commercial corridor projects are:

  • Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council $1,498,750 (affordable housing and commercial space),
  • City of Aurora, $1,200,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of East St. Louis, $900,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of Peoria, $1,200,000 (streetscape)
  • South East Chicago Chamber of Commerce, $1,450,000 (fiber optic cable enhancement)
  • West Humboldt Park Development Council, $300,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of Markham $900,000 (corridor enhancements)

Applications for corridor projects were reviewed and evaluated according to the extent of property damage due to civil unrest, with program priorities being projects that were located in distressed communities, had geographic diversity around the state, and an investment impact that will build resiliency and revitalize the business corridor.

In order to qualify for funds, project proposals were required to demonstrate the project would occur within the same block that experienced property damage or on contiguous blocks if required for project continuity. Funds for the RDC program are from the state’s historic $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital Program.

Projects for corridor improvements will repair and improve the surrounding area while increasing economic opportunities for impacted businesses. The projects were evaluated based on project need, capacity, quality, and societal impact.

Currently, DCEO is accepting applications for additional capital dollars aimed at revitalizing commercial areas in communities across the state. The recently launched Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown program will provide up to $50 million in grants for construction, repair and modernization of public infrastructure and amenities to boost jobs, improve quality of life and stimulate economic activity for areas hit hardest during COVID-19. The deadline to apply is today, January 10, 2022.

For more information on supports available for small businesses, or to learn more about ongoing capital programs, please visit DCEO’s website or follow the department on social @IllinoisDCEO.