CHICAGO (WEHT) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced on Thursday that the first grants have been awarded through the Back to Business recovery program.

521 grants totaling more than $24 million have been provided to small businesses in 146 cities across Illinois. Officials say the program allocates $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars for small businesses experiencing COVID-19 losses.

“I am excited to announce the first $24 million in Back to Business grants – just the beginning of our efforts to distribute over $250 million to small business owners across the state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This first wave of B2B funds will help over 500 of our state’s entrepreneurs rehire staff and cover operating costs – without owing a single cent back. And as Illinois rebuilds and recovers, we will continue to step up for our small businesses. They deserve to breathe easier and dream bigger – it’s our mission to deliver the funds and resources they need to do so.”

To be considered for a grant, applicants must demonstrate a reduction in revenue in 2020, compared to 2019, and annual revenues of no more than $20 million in 2019.  Businesses must also provide two bank statements, a business owner ID, and federal tax returns for 2019 and 2020.