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.

child care grant

CHAMPAIGN – To ensure parents returning to work can trust their children are in good hands, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging child care providers to apply for Child Care Restoration Grants to help their businesses cope with pandemic-related losses.

“Working parents need child care to do their jobs,” Bennett said. “While child care providers are dealing with the consequences of this crisis, this grant will help them safely reopen after months of financial distress.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services is distributing $270 million in available funding to assist child care providers across the state with reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Licensed child care providers that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for Child Care Restoration Grants.

To be eligible for the grant, child care providers must:

  • Have a current license from the Department of Children and Family Services to care for children,
  • Be open and caring for children at the time of application,
  • Be able to demonstrate a “business interruption” from their pre-COVID capacity, and
  • Submit a complete application with all required documents.

Applications are open until Aug. 14. To learn more and apply, child care providers should visit www.inccrra.org/.

cowCHAMPAIGN - To support dairy farmers and dairy-related businesses with financial and technical support, Senate Agriculture Chairman Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is promoting the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA).

DBIA, a joint effort coordinated by the Center for Dairy Research and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, was designed to support and promote the diversification and addition of value-added products to the Midwest dairy industry.

Goals of the program include increasing on-farm diversification, creating value-added dairy products, such as specialty cheeses, and focusing on export opportunities for farm-scale and processor dairy products.

“These grants are designed to foster innovation,” Senator Bennett said. “It’s my hope this program can be used to improve the future for dairy farmers and processors.”

The grant application period is now open. Funds totaling $220,000 will be disbursed and awarded with individual projects receiving up to $20,000. The deadline to complete and return applications is Aug. 14. Selected producers and business owners will be notified on Sept. 4.

For questions or additional information, call DBIA at 608-265-1491 or visit https://turbo.cdr.wisc.edu/dairy-business-innovation-alliance/.

illinois chain o lakes state park bridge in the parkCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joins the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to announce the application period for grants through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program runs from June 1 through July 31, 2020.

“With summer activities for kids still in question and families looking for unique alternatives, our community needs the benefits of this program now more than ever,” Bennett said. “Grants from the LWCF protect and improve access to public spaces and will ensure families can use them.”

The LWCF provides matching funds to units of local government for acquisition of land for public parks and open space. The program is financed nationally by revenue from offshore oil and gas leases and is administered in Illinois by the IDNR. Local governments can apply for funding assistance for up to 50%of the costs of approved projects. Grant awards are capped at $750,000.

Only local government agencies that can acquire land for public park purposes are eligible to apply. Lands acquired using LWCF funds are required to be operated and maintained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation.

For questions regarding the LWCF program, please call the Office of Grant Management and Assistance at 217-782-7481 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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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