(The Center Square) – As businesses continue to deal with state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, Governor J.B. Pritzker used his daily briefing Monday to highlight business assistance grants.
Pritzker said the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has allocated more than $1 billion in economic relief to state businesses, including more than $270 million into its Business Interruption Grants program.
“To date, nearly half of our awards have gone to minority-owned businesses, 39% have gone to women-owned businesses, and 49% have gone to disproportionately impacted areas,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker also took a jab at other states that haven’t been as strict with business closures.
“The COVID-19 economy has been cruel to our workers and our entrepreneurs and their families in every state, yes even those that have recklessly chosen not to implement any health restrictions,” Pritzker said.
Actually, five of the six states with the nation’s lowest unemployment rates are in the Midwest, have Republican governors and have almost no restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Nebraska leads the nation with a 3.5% unemployment rate, with Iowa and Missouri close behind.
The DCEO reports of the funds distributed so far, nearly $47 million have gone to about 1,900 restaurants and taverns in Illinois.
At a recent news conference attended by restaurant and bar owners in Springfield, state Rep. Mike Murphy said businesses don’t want handouts, they want to stay open.
“You guys don’t want programs,” Murphy said. “You want the ability to work, to provide opportunities to your employees so they can better themselves. Just give us that opportunity.”