firefighter fire gear2CHAMPAIGN – To help fire departments, fire protection districts and township fire departments afford the tools and equipment they need, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging eligible applicants to submit an application to the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s (OSFM) Small Equipment Grant Program.

“Firefighters and first responders have been on the front lines during this pandemic, and it’s our job to ensure they have the equipment needed to stay safe,” Bennett said. “I encourage departments to take advantage of this grant opportunity so they can purchase new firefighting and ambulance equipment.”

The program awards grants of up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. OSFM will award a total of $3.3 million to eligible fire departments and ambulance services through the program.

Across the state, many fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services struggle to generate the necessary revenue to purchase small equipment, such as air-packs and portable radios.

Eligible applicants are required to have participated in the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) for a minimum of two years prior to applying. Due to NFIRS undergoing updates, the OSFM will require departments to be current through June 2020 for this grant period.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Jan. 29, 2021. Additional information including the application can be found on the State Fire Marshal’s website.

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DANVILLE – To provide every Illinoisan fair and equal access to the internet, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging organizations in rural areas to apply for $50 million in available funding through the second round of the Connect Illinois broadband expansion program.

“Access to a high-speed internet connection is essential for people’s ability to work, learn and carry out business,” Bennett said. “Rural residents deserve a better approach to broadband—I encourage eligible applicants to apply for this next round of grants.” 

The second round of Connect Illinois grants will allow for up to $5 million per project and calls for a matching component, which requires companies to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments. Internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments are eligible to apply.

Residents across Vermilion County experience slower-than-average internet speeds: In Tilton and Westville, connection speeds are nearly one-third slower than the state average, and in Catlin and Rantoul, downloads take about twice as long.

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pexels pixabay 159579CHAMPAIGN — To put working parents at ease as they prepare to return to the workplace, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging child care providers who have faced financial struggles due to COVID-19 to apply for the next round of the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program.

“For many families, no child care means they do not have the ability to work,” Bennett said. “Supporting our child care providers will help address the needs of parents that are returning to their jobs outside the home, and that’s why I am encouraging all providers affected by the COVID-19 crisis to seek financial assistance through this grant opportunity.” 

More than $150 million was awarded to 4,686 child care providers across 95 counties during the first round of BIG funding earmarked for child care. Nearly half these funds went to providers in areas disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Child care facilities have continued to face financial hardships in recent months, leading the state to open a second round of BIG grants specifically for child care providers. In this second wave of funding, $114 million will be available for child care centers and family child care homes that are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services and are currently open.

Applications for Child Care Restoration Grants are available until Oct. 15 and can be found here.

All other businesses can apply for BIG grants here.

CHAMPAIGN – With cosm restaurant 082120mmunities across Champaign and Vermilion counties still feeling the effects of the pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for assistance through the second round of Business Interruption Grant (BIG) funding.

“Our small business community has made incredible sacrifices over the past several months to protect their staff and customers,” Bennett said. “We must do all that we can to show our support during this horrible pandemic, and I would encourage any business that is struggling to apply.”

The BIG program has allocated $220 million in the second round for movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues and more to help them stay afloat through this time of crisis and ensure they have the resources to open safely in the coming months.

The second round of grants is intended to provide relief for all types of small businesses, with a focus on businesses located downstate. This round includes $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theaters, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, event spaces located at banquet halls and hotels, and more. Another $70 million has been set aside for businesses in economically distressed communities that have been the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“This program is an investment in our community and will help small businesses ease their financial strain,” Bennett said. “The BIG program was able to help many businesses in the first round of funding, and I hope we can see even more receive this assistance.”

The second round of BIG funding builds on more than $49 million in grants awarded statewide in August. The Champaign-Urbana area received a combined $910,000 in grants, and an additional $100,000 was awarded to the Danville area during the first round. The grants ranged from $10,000 to $20,000 to assist businesses with expenses like payroll, rent, utilities, equipment and other possible unexpected costs to relieve the effects of the pandemic.

Applications open Thursday, Sept. 17 and can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website alongside a full list of criteria.

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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P: (217) 355-5252

Danville Office:
201 N. Vermilion St. Suite 323
Danville, IL 61832
P: (217) 442-5252

Springfield Office:
311C State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-2507