$11M in grants awarded to minority owned businesses across Ill.

Iowa American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation have announced $15,000 in...
Iowa American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation have announced $15,000 in grants to three local organizations. This is for their COVID-19 relief efforts. (MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 5:20 PM CDT
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Thirty-two minority-owned businesses will receive a total of $11 million as part of Illinois' Minority-Owned Business Capital and Infrastructure Program.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity made the announcement on Monday. The grants will equip minority-owned firms with resources to create jobs, build capacity, increase revenues, and revitalize properties in under-served communities, according to the DCEO.

The program provides a capital grant earmarked specifically to promote growth of minority-owned businesses.

"The program leverages bonded capital funds to support infrastructure investment in economically disadvantaged areas, as well as to contribute to the growth of minority-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in priority community investment areas," according to the announcement.

In total, 20 businesses were granted $8.1 million, and a dozen business incubators were granted over $2.9 million. This includes funding distributed to a diverse group of recipients — including community-based and youth organizations, as well as small and family-owned businesses, including restaurants, retail, manufacturing, a museum, roofing, and more, according to the DCEO.

A full list of OMEE grant recipients is available on DCEO’s website.

Grants were reviewed and evaluated on a competitive basis, with proposals evaluated against the following criteria: Demonstrated need for capital, capacity to complete the project, and potential to create social impact for the surrounding community. Minority business status was a prerequisite for eligibility of this program, as well as the project’s ability to create economic development in low-to-moderate income areas, according to the DCEO.

“At a time when businesses are facing significant setbacks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Minority Capital Fund will help eliminate obstacles so minority-owned businesses can rebuild and continue supporting their communities,” Gov. Pritzker said. “These small, family-owned businesses are the backbone of Illinois, and capital grants will unlock funding to help them expand, create new jobs, and drive positive economic change for their communities.”

Individual applicants were eligible to receive up to $500,000 per project, and the amount of the award is based on anticipated costs associated with meeting project requirements and bond guidelines.

Grant funding is restricted to specific working capital use – including property acquisition, renovation, purchase of essential equipment, rehabilitation of publicly owned property, and communal infrastructure works, such as sidewalks, streets or other site improvements, according to the DCEO.