The city of Pekin is creating a Small Business Assistance Grant to help local businesses hit hard by the coronavirus.
The grant uses $1 million of the city's Community Development Block Grant funding to dole out grants of up to $5,000 each to eligible businesses.
Pekin Mayor Mark Luft said the goal is to keep leftover funding for hard times ahead.
"We're trying to desperately cover all the bases, help the small businesses today, and keep ourselves in a spot where if they need help tomorrow, we have a little bit of that to offer, as well," he said.
Some members wanted to use all $1 million immediately, or to table the measure for a week to explain the process to small business owners first. But Luft said time was of the essence.
"There was no path set in front of us to begin with on this. And we are trying to maneuver through the forest as best we can [...]," he said. "But the main thing that we have to keep in mind is to understand that there are people out there who needed this yesterday."
Applications will be available online only. Pekin City Manager Mark Rothert said the site is 95 percent done, and should launch by Wednesday at the latest. City staff will be on hand to guide businesses through the application process.
The city will forward $1 million from its general fund to seed the assistance grants, as the city doesn't expect to receive CDGB funds before May 1.
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