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Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG)

The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program was developed by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to provide $580 million in economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. BIG – the largest program of its kind in the nation - leverages federal funding provided by the CARES Act to help offset COVID-19 related losses for Illinois small businesses.

The BIG program consisted of $290 million for child care providers and $290 million for other small businesses throughout Illinois. As part of this program, DCEO has issued over $275 million through nearly 9,000 grants to small businesses located in over 600 cities and towns, and 98 counties throughout Illinois. In addition, $7 million has gone to forgive Illinois Small Business Emergency Loans, and up to $5 million is in the process of being issued for the Livestock Management Facilities Program. You can find more information on the $290 million that will be provided to child care providers here.

Using an equity framework to distribute these funds, the State of Illinois provided awards to small businesses located in industries and geographies hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As a result, nearly half of the awards were made to businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, 80 percent of funds were made to businesses with $1 million or less in annual revenues, and 40 percent of awards were made to minority-owned businesses statewide. Additionally, $105 million or 3,100 awards were provided to downstate communities.

See a full list of grant recipients here.

The average grant award was $30,000, and businesses which did not receive other forms of assistance from PPP or other programs were given priority. Funding amounts are commensurate with losses or expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19, and can be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs, rent, utilities, and other operational costs as defined in the eligible cost list found below.

If you recently received a notice regarding the status of your grant application and have questions, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document posted here.

Questions about how the money should be used? Please review the certification form below.  



To ensure small businesses had access to assistance in applying, DCEO invested in extensive community outreach and technical assistance programs. DCEO partnered with grant administrators Accion and the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) to administer a program of unprecedented size and speed, as well as more than a dozen community navigator partners to ensure businesses in minority and hard to reach communities could access the program. Efforts by the community navigators engaged more than 29,000 individual businesses in the fall and winter months of 2020. These community navigator partners included: the Chicago Urban League, the Resurrection Project, IBIC and the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation.

Other forms of technical assistance were provided throughout the duration of the program/since June and included:

  • DCEO Team Regional Economic Development (RED)* – Regional Liaisons work year-round to support small businesses in all 10 regions across the state.
  • DCEO Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE)* – OMEE’s dedicated program managers advocate for businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in traditionally economically-disadvantaged groups and assisted them with BIG as well as other available programs. Contact info here or email
  • Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)* – DCEO has 42 SBDCs across the state that assisted business with BIG as well as other available programs.. Find your nearest SBDC here.
    *Indicates assistance is also available in Spanish from a DCEO team member.  

Using an equity framework to distribute BIG funding, DCEO prioritized businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas, or DIAs. The map below indicates the 176 DIAs located throughout the state, and allows you to search by address, or by searching zip codes.