(PEORIA) WEEK - $14 million dollars in the form of financial aid is up for grabs to help struggling business groups impacted the during COVID-19 health crisis.
It's an Emergency Hospitality Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, specifically for bars, restaurants and hotels.
And for three-time business Peoria, business owner Jorell Glass, it's much needed.
Glass cut the ribbon on his most recent venture March 11th - Avery's. It's a Chicago-style hot dog restaurant located inside the Twin Towers.
"If it plays in Peoria, it plays anywhere." That was Glass's motto and part of the reason he was drawn to the River City in 2017, but it likely wasn't the first thing that popped in his mind when he got the biggest economic blow of his career, four days after his grand opening; Governor Pritzker's statewide mandate.
"I am ordering all bars and restaurants in the state of Illinois to close." Those words shook hospitality businesses across the state, Sunday March 15, 2020.
It was a decision handed down by Governor JB Pritzker in a massive attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, forcing all non-essential businesses to suspend operations for two weeks.
Included in that group, were Glass's two barbershops.
Now he and thousands of hospitality business owners are hoping they qualify for part of the multi-million dollar state emergency grant to keep them afloat.
"The support will come to bars and restaurants that generated less than one million dollars in revenue in 2019. And for hotels, any that generated less than eight million in 2019." J.D Dalfonso, President of the Peoria Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau outlined the grant qualifications.
He explained that the money comes from the budgets of local tourism bureaus across the state and must be used for things like rent, job training, payroll, etc.
And while those applications roll in, he says his office is working tirelessly to remind people there are still safe ways to enjoy and support local businesses.
"We're doing 'Take-Out Tuesday's' emphasizing grab & go options from local restaurants. We're also looking to do a retail therapy on Thursday...so promoting those that provide online shopping. Even art contests for kids. They'd win gift cards that we purchased from local businesses. " Dalfonso listed.
He also reiterated that PACVB is fully up and running during this time. The office is not open to the public, but they have employees monitoring their online systems and standing by to take calls; encouraging local businesses to use them for guidance.
The grant applicatio is on the PCAVB website or you can follow this link.
The deadline is April 1st, 2020 and applicants can expect a response within about four business days.