CHICAGO – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today awarded $5 million in grant funding to 151 recipients through the Back to Business (B2B) Local Chambers program. B2B Chambers provides additional support for local chambers of commerce that experienced negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of B2B Local Chambers grantees can be found here.

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“Small businesses are the backbone of our growing economy,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That’s why my administration is providing support to local chambers of commerce through the B2B Local Chambers grant program. The 151 grantees announced today will amplify our efforts to help small businesses who may have been overlooked by previous pandemic aid efforts access the necessary marketing and development resources they need to thrive.

Local chambers of commerce play a vital role in supporting businesses in communities across Illinois. The B2B Local Chambers funding will be used by chambers to market and develop localities, provide small businesses with professional development, and more to support small businesses and entrepreneurs while bolstering economic development.

“Local chambers serve as vital advocates and champions for economic growth in our business communities,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “The B2B Local Chambers’ program is investing $5 million to strengthen these organizations’ resilience by providing resources to support entrepreneurs, attract new development, and drive prosperity in every corner of our state.”

As outlined in statute, B2B Local Chambers (20 ILCS 605/605-1105) grant award amounts were determined by total annual revenue declines between 2019 and 2020, as reflected on tax returns. All eligible applicants received a grant as long as the chamber of commerce met eligibility requirements and submitted proper documentation and attestations.

“Through the B2B Local Chambers grant program, the State of Illinois is providing support to dozens of chambers of commerce in communities that were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. “Economic development in every corner of the state will continue to grow as local chambers have newfound access to resources to promote marketing and development.”

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Eligible chambers of commerce included organizations of businesses and professionals dedicated to improving the economic climate and business development of the community in which they are located that experienced a negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible chambers have an annual revenue of $1 million or less.

“In our roles as professionals, we have absolutely no idea what an impact we can have with just one decision,” said Dawn Mushill, President/CEO of the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce. “The decision of the Allies for Community Business to award the Troy/Maryville/St. Jacob/Marine Chamber of Commerce $50,000 was a decision that will positively impact our Chamber, our members and the community for many years to come.”

“We are not immune to rising costs, so receiving the Back to Business Chamber grant supports ongoing operations and enables us to provide high-quality, customized one-on-one support for our businesses and institutional partners,” said Sarah Wilson, Executive Director of theUptown United & Uptown Chamber of Commerce.

To provide support with application review, technical portal support for applicants, manage the development of the application portal and provide support in process payments, DCEO enlisted Allies for Community Business to serve as the program administrator.

“The State of Illinois’ B2B Local Chambers program is critical to helping local chambers of commerce continue moving in a positive trajectory after the devastating effects of the pandemic,” said Senate Majority Appropriations Leader Elgie Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago). “Illinois is committed to supporting communities across the state through grant funding programs such as B2B and beyond.”

“Illinois continues to provide support to communities that experienced negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic,” saidSen. Faraci (D-Champaign). “The B2B Local Chambers grant program is providing funding to local chambers of commerce throughout the state to support small businesses, entrepreneurs, and more.”

“Local chambers of commerce are vitally important to Illinois communities,” saidRep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates). “Thisgrant program will support chambers in their marketing and development efforts while bolstering economic development.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, DCEO has allocated $1.5 billion in pandemic-related support for businesses, including $705 million through B2B and BIG, $899 million in Childcare Restoration Grants (administered in partnership with DHS), $18.5 million in local CURE funding specifically allocated to businesses, $14 million in Emergency Hospitality Grants, and $3.5 million in BIG agriculture grants.

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