If you’re starting or running a business in Illinois, there are several small business grants that may support your operations. The state, local governments, and nonprofit organizations offer opportunities for everyone from restaurant owners to startup founders.
The Latest Illinois Small Business Grants
Here are some current Illinois small business grants to consider.
Chicago Small Business Improvement Fund
The Small Business Improvement Fund offers grants for permanent building improvements and repairs. Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development facilitates the program. Local businesses can apply for grants that cover between 30 percent and 90 percent of their remodeling or building costs. The maximum grant amount for commercial properties is $150,000, and the maximum grant for industrial properties is $250,000. The city rolls out grant opportunities each month, focusing on different neighborhoods and districts each round.
Chicago Recovery Plan
The Chicago Recovery Plan includes $1.2 million in funding to support economic recovery throughout the city. Local businesses can use grant funds for pre-development, renovation, or new construction expenses. However, applicants must cover at least 25 percent of the total project cost on their own. The deadline for the first two rounds of this funding program have passed. But a third round is expected to launch over the summer.
Neighborhood Opportunity Fund
Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund supports small businesses in some of the city’s underserved neighborhoods. This program focuses on businesses in the west, south, and southwest parts of the city, covering select construction or rehabilitation costs. Small projects may be eligible for up to $250,000, while larger projects may apply for additional funds.
Illinois Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
The Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation provides grant funding for restaurants and their employees. Those facing hardships can apply for between $250 and $1,500 to cover living expenses after accidents, illnesses, or death of a close family member that precludes them from working. This is an ongoing grant program designed to support team members when restaurants are unable to provide paid time off or additional benefits.
Feed the Seed Business Startup Grants
Feed the Seed Business Startup Grants support new businesses in Kane, DuPage, Kendall, and Will counties. The program aims to support businesses or entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. Applicants may already have a business formed, but it should generate no more than $40,000 in revenue per year. Entrepreneurs must also remain in the local area for at least two years after receiving funding.
South Side Pitch
South Side Pitch is a business plan competition for emerging businesses in Chicago’s South Side. Organized by the University of Chicago Law School’s Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, the competition is open to companies with less than 50 employees and $1 million in revenue. The top three winners receive $8,000, $7,000, and $5,000 grants. The initial application is due August 22. Then, finalists pitch in front of a panel of judges.
City of Urbana Business Grants
The city of Urbana awards grants between $1,000 and $3,000 for select new and growing businesses in the area. Business development grants support those who already own or lease a commercial space. And opening grants are for those who have yet to launch. The program focuses on certain business districts in the city. Funding is awarded on a rolling basis, depending on the availability of funds.
Metro East Startup Challenge
The Metro East Startup Challenge serves businesses in the St. Louis Metro East area, which includes parts of Illinois. Entrepreneurs first submit an online application with their business idea. Then, finalists participate in a pitch contest, with the grand prize winner receiving $10,000. A few smaller cash prizes are also available. The 2022 round begins June 12, and applications are due August 14.
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