* CBS 2…
An Illinois state grant program is touted as a means to help businesses decimated by looting – with the money meant for immediate repairs so businesses can survive.
But two years after the launch of the program, CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov found out only a small fraction of those millions have been given out. And some of that money has been used to pay the salaries of those overseeing the program.
Kozlov met Najee Landon as she looked with despair around her Englewood company’s office space.
“The rioting and everything that happened at the summer, it really hit us hard,” Landon said. “It’s like a knife to the heart.” […]
According to the state’s own website, the whole point of the $25 million program is to “support economically distressed Illinois businesses” that were damaged “due to civil unrest.” […]
Landon qualified in the fall of 2020, ultimately being awarded $133,307,57. […]
Two years later, and Landon has only gotten a third of the grant money promised to her. She didn’t even get that until a few months ago.
Landon has used that money for approved repairs. But she calls the delay devastating, and her offices have further deteriorated.
* DCEO statement…
DCEO has made available an unprecedented amount of funding not only through COVID-19 relief funding, but also for community revitalization and support for businesses following damage due to civil unrest. DCEO takes seriously its responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and this first-of-its kind program – which uses local qualified contractors to conduct repairs and capital improvements on behalf of recipients – requires grantees to follow state contracting protocols. CNI – the organization which has been tasked with receiving applications, vetting eligibility of applicants, and managing projects where needed – is providing the funds once the qualifications are met and projects are approved. DCEO remains committed to supporting grantees and will continue to work with CNI on remaining projects.
Our state contracting protocols are a byzantine mess, and have been for years. No wonder the money isn’t getting out.
* Background from DCEO…
• Rebuild Distressed Communities distributes funds though two program administrators (CNI and LISC), which were selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity process.
• The overarching program has three capital grant components:
1. Funding corridor improvements – grants to localities
2. Reimbursing businesses for repairs already completed – grants to businesses
3. Funding for new repairs for businesses – subject to state capital grant protocol; must select from list of qualified contractors
- The third category is particularly complex because by statute, it must follow state capital grant contracting processes.
• The program requirements have remained the same since its inception.
That state statute probably needs to be changed. And soon. There are several more of these capital grant programs with money just waiting to be spent. Most small independent businesses don’t have any idea how to jump through these hoops.