Cook County celebrates small business grants awarded to 3,000 recipients (COOK COUNTY, IL) – On Tuesday, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle celebrated the distribution of the 2023 Source Grant at the Hatchery with small business owners, business support organizations and other partners. The program is a historic $50 million investment in both urban and suburban communities through Cook County Small Business Source.
“Cook County's small businesses face uncharted territory in the post-pandemic economy, and this grant will provide them with the stability they need to thrive in 2024 and beyond,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. It is what we provide.” “Small businesses have shown unique tenacity and persistence in surviving the pandemic and are an important asset to our communities.”
The application process received more than 16,000 applications, and the program's grant administrators, the Center for Women's Business Development and Arise for Community Business, verified eligibility and submitted required documentation. Administrators then used a lottery process to select her 3,000 recipients from a pool of eligible applications.
Grant recipients received award notification in mid-December and received their funds in January. Depending on the level of annual sales, the company received a grant of $10,000 or $20,000. Other eligibility criteria include being located in Cook County, having fewer than 20 employees, and having been in operation since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grants can be used for business expenses such as payroll, operating expenses, lease or rent payments, and acquiring business-critical inventory. Funds may not be used for capital improvements or personal expenses.
Sixty percent of award recipients reside in suburban Cook County, and 60 percent are in priority areas including arts and entertainment. Childcare and social assistance. Hospitality, food, tourism. retail trade; and transportation and warehousing. Forty-five veteran-owned businesses also received grants.
Cheryl Vargas, who owns Studio 928, an art-focused business in the La Grange suburb, said she was “so excited” to receive the grant. After operating as her sole proprietor, she used the funds to hire an administrative assistant.
“I'm very excited,” Vargas said. “This is the best thing I've ever done.”
Another recipient also expressed his gratitude.
“This is incredible news. We are very grateful to have been selected for this support,” the business owner said. “Thank you so much for this huge boost as I continue to try to climb out of the ashes of the pandemic. Thank you again for your hard work in facilitating these grants.”
In funding this grant program, Cook County leveraged $50 million of the $1 billion it received from the American Rescue Plan Act, the economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021. The program was originally scheduled to distribute $40 million, but received additional funding. This is because there is a lot of interest in grants.
Cook County also partnered with Next Street, a Chicago company that supports small business development, on the program.
For a complete list of grant recipients, visit the Cook County Small Business Source website at cookcountysmallbiz.org.
Cook County celebrates small business grants awarded to 3,000 recipients