FILE - Virus Outbreak Illinois, movie theater

A sign is seen at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge, Ill., Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The cinema has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

(The Center Square) – Business industries hit hardest since the start of the pandemic are now eligible to apply for $175 million in additional grant funding through the state’s Back 2 Business program.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) officially launched the latest $175 million in available resources for restaurants, hotels and creative arts businesses and organizations, all of it coming from the American Rescue Plan Act with allotments for each business being based on revenue declines and tax returns. With applications being accepted from April 5 to May 10, all applicants will receive a grant as long as they meet eligibility requirements, submit proper documentation and attestations outlined by the program.

DCEO director Kristin Richards said the funding is dedicated to continuing to rebuild the economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Arts and creative industries are huge tourism drivers for the state," Richards told reporters. "They are often the backbone of our communities. These are dollars that are intended to help them recover. These are also dollars that will support small businesses in our communities. We know that creative arts are often tourism anchors for communities across the state.”

Based on legislation that established the Restaurant Employment and Stabilization Grant Program, Hotel Jobs Recovery Grant Program and the Illinois Creative Recovery Grant program, to date through the state’s B2B and Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Programs, DCEO has provided more than $535 million to more than 15,000 businesses since the start of the pandemic.

"In the three years since COVID-19 brought our state, our nation, and our world to a standstill, Illinois businesses have come back swinging – in part thanks to our Back to Business program," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a recent press release. "My administration is committed to helping small business owners move past survival and onto long-term success – and this latest investment of $175 million in B2B grants does exactly that."

In order to raise awareness about the program and make the process of being eligible for it easier to fulfill, state officials have put together a team of more than 100 community navigators across the state.