Applying for the Back to Business (B2B) Grant

The State of Illinois recently announced a new $250 million “Back to Business” (B2B) grant program to assist small businesses in the recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic shutdowns. The grant application opened on August 18, 2021, and is expected to close by mid-October or when funds run out — so we’re encouraging our downtown businesses to apply ASAP!

But I’m just a sole proprietor – I’m not eligible!

Sole proprietors are certainly eligible for the B2B grant. If you owned your business for at least one month of 2019 and throughout 2020, the State of Illinois has simplified the number of documents you need to submit. Overall, your tax returns should show that your gross revenues went down from 2019 to 2020 — but there is also a way for you to explain any circumstances that aren’t reflected in your returns.

But there’s too much paperwork involved in getting a state grant.

The State of Illinois has really simplified this grant process. You only need to submit five documents to be considered:

  • Business Owner ID (driver’s license, state ID, passport, or matricular consular card)
  • 2019 Federal Tax Return
  • 2020 Federal Tax Return
  • One business bank statement from between April and December 2020, inclusive that reflects business expenses
  • Most recent business bank statement

But I just purchased this business in 2020.

If you purchased a business in 2020 and have the previous owner’s tax return from 2019, you can still apply. The business must have been in operation at least one month in 2019 to be eligible, whether you or someone else owned it.

But I’ve already received a city grant or other government grant funding.

You should apply regardless! B2B grants are prioritized for businesses who did not access government funding previously, but many recipients who make it through the process and receive a grant will have received previous support of some kind.

DSI Is Here To Help You With One-on-One Support 

We are here to help! We can provide you with one-on-one assistance if you need it. Simply contact Kayla by email or at 217-544-1723. DSI is also one of the many local organizations providing walk-in hours at the Lincoln Public Library at 326 S 7th in Downtown Springfield over the next few weeks to help assist business owners through the application process. Bring your documents and walk-in during any of these times:

  • Wed, Sept 1 10 am -12 pm 
  • Fri, Sept 3 10 am -12 pm
  • Tues Sept 7 10 am -12 pm & 5 pm – 7 pm
  • Wed Sept 8 10 am -12 pm & 5 pm – 7 pm
  • Fri Sept 10 10 am -12 pm
  • Mon Sept 13 10 am -12 pm & 5 pm – 7 pm
  • Wed Sept 15 10 am -12 pm & 5 pm – 7 pm
  • Fri Sept 17 10 am -12 pm

DSI is one of the Springfield-area organizations working as part of the DCEO Small Business Navigator Program managed by the Illinois Public Health Association.

How Much Might My Business Receive from a B2B Grant?

The $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program aims to deploy small businesses recovery grants for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of Governor JB Pritzker’s overall economic recovery strategy. The B2B grant program builds on the success of last year’s Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program and will include grants ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 (up to $250,000 for hotels). 

Awarded grants will equal the difference between 2019 revenues and 2020 revenues, divided by 6, rounded up to the nearest multiple of $5,000 (effectively two months’ worth of average year-over-year revenue decline).

For example, let’s say your 2019 revenues were $80,000 and your 2020 revenues were $65,000. The difference is $15,000, which is then divided by six; that number is $2500. The grant amount would be rounded up, to $5,000 (the nearest $5,000 level).


Who Qualifies for the Grant?

Businesses must meet the following requirements to be eligible for funds available through the B2B Grant program. Note that this is a summary, and further terms that recipients must comply with are outlined here.

  1. Must be an independently owned and operated for-profit corporation or limited liability corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship authorized to conduct business in the State of Illinois; or a nonprofit;
  2. Must have been operating during or before December 2019.
  3. Must have had less than $20 million in gross operating revenue in the calendar year 2019, or a prorated amount if in operation for less than a year before December 2019.
  4. Must have experienced a loss in revenue of at least $5,000 in 2020 due to economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Must have had reduced operations due to government orders, public health guidelines, or depressed consumer demand during the COVID 19 pandemic.
  6. Must have complied with all relevant laws, regulations, and executive orders from the State and federal government, including the social distancing guidelines as promulgated by the Executive Orders of the Illinois Governor.

Priority Distribution of Grant Funds will be given to the following categories:

  1. Hard-hit industries 
  2. Hard-hit areas – Disproportionately Impacted Areas comprising of 176 zip codes – downtown Springfield is not, for the most part, a DIA, although you can scroll down on this page to find the map
  3. Businesses who have yet to qualify for state funding or federal assistance including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), business Interruption Grant (BIG), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), and more)
  4. Businesses that had less than $5 million in revenue in 2019

A full list of priority guidelines can be found here.

How to Apply

The application and details are located here on the DCEO website.

Required documents

  • Business Owner ID (driver’s license, state ID, passport, or matricular consular card)
  • 2019 Federal Tax Return
  • 2020 Federal Tax Return
  • One business bank statement from between April and December 2020, inclusive that reflects business expenses
  • Most recent business bank statement
  • If the above documents do not reflect the current business address, a document that does (utility bill, lease/mortgage, credit card statement, or business license)

More Resources

Watch this Short Video on “How to Submit Your Tax Returns”

Watch this Short Video on “How to Find Your Gross Revenue”