CHAMPAIGN – In an effort to help local businesses take advantage of Back to Business (B2B) grants, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) has teamed up with the Small Business Development Center at Champaign County Economic Development Corporation to hold open office hours for those needing assistance with their applications.

“The B2B grant program is essential for our small business community, who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bennett said. “The Champaign Small Business Development Center and I are committed to helping these businesses get back on track—if you have questions about the application process, stop by our open office hours to get the assistance you need.”

The B2B program, administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will award eligible small businesses one-time grants of up to $150,000 to cover operation costs, staff payroll and other expenses in an effort to make up for losses sustained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $250 million will be distributed.

Bennett and the SBDC will be available to answer questions, provide technical assistance, scan required documents and more at the SBDC office, located at 1817 S. Neil St., Suite 100 in Champaign, at the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, Sept. 16 from 8 to 10 a.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Sept. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 3 to 5 p.m.

To offer even more opportunities for businesses to get help with their applications, Bennett and the SBDC will also offer these services in the Launch at the Library business center at Champaign Public Library, located at 200 W. Green St., on Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The business center regularly offers a walk-in coworking space, seminars, meeting rooms, and other resources for current and prospective business owners.

“We’re grateful for the launch of the Back 2 Business Grant program, a crucial investment by the state of Illinois to support small businesses and accelerate business recovery to rebuild our economy post-pandemic,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “As one of thirteen Community Navigator hubs across the state of Illinois, we’ve been working to provide technical assistance to businesses in the application process. We’re thankful for State Senator Scott Bennett’s partnership with us to host these open office hours as we work to expand outreach and ensure eligible small businesses and non-profits apply for this grant.” 

Applications to the B2B program are now being accepted, and grants will be awarded on a rolling basis through Wednesday, Oct. 13. With questions or for additional information about Bennett’s open office hours, residents are encouraged to contact Bennett’s Champaign office at 217-355-5252 or visit SenatorBennett.com.