City of Rockford offering $900k in grants to help struggling businesses

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — There’s no doubt that businesses have had a tough time staying open since March and with more mitigation measures as well as winter settling in soon, they need more help than ever.

Patrick Alberto is trying to balance the books as he keeps his restaurant Octane afloat during the pandemic.

“We’re down at least 30-35% from last year,” said Alberto.

That translates into thousands of dollars. Customers are down but costs remain the same.

“That’s a tough pill to swallow obviously,” he added.

That’s why he hopes to cash in on a new grant from the city. Businesses like Octane can receive up to $7,500. All they have to do is apply.

“It will give us a small boost for when things get dire. When in the middle of the winter, you know, when most people don’t want to go out and eat,” Alberto explained.

The city is offering a total of $900,000 for restaurants and bars that are struggling this year.

“Yeah, it would help us with overall cost. At least a weekly or monthly operation,” Alberto said.

“We’re looking for bars and restaurants that had a significant disruption, so that’s greater than 10% average monthly revenue in 2020 as opposed to 2019,” explained Karl Franzen, the director of community and economic development for the City of Rockford.

With winter just around the corner, Franzen says this grant money could help save businesses.

“It’s getting colder in the outdoor dining and some of the streamlined flexibility the City of Rockford has provided are kind of going away with that and of course entering additional mitigations on Friday. This is a nice time to be rolling this out,” he added.

Businesses have until the 30th to apply. Franzen says the grants will be handed out to businesses by mid-December.

The city tells us that businesses that have been flagged for violating the state’s COVID-19 guidelines repeatedly to the point of being fined are not eligible for the program.

Click here to view the application.

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