SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State Senators want to make sure COVID-19 relief is spread across all industries, and craft brewers are asking to be included, too.
Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) has proposed appropriating $125 million in federal COVID-19 funding for bars and restaurants, as allowed under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Now, Illinois craft breweries are asking to be named specifically eligible for funding as well.
According to the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, the craft beer industry has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 closures and mitigations. Only about 20% of breweries received funding under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) before funds ran out.
Kevin Cary, owner of Begyle Brewing in Ravenswood and former president of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, is among the brewery owners who applied for – but has not yet received – Back to Business grant funding.
“The last three months have been harder than much of 2020, when Chicago breweries were forced to shut down indoor operations multiple times,” said Cary. “When you look around, it feels like COVID has ended, but a lot of breweries are still struggling with less foot traffic, higher costs, and, in many cases, rising debt payments. They need more support.”