Twenty-one arts organizations in Rock Island County are among 2,235 total in Illinois that received state Back to Business (B2B) grant funding, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced Friday.

This is the conclusion of the Back to Business (B2B) grants aimed to provide post-COVID relief to restaurants, hotels and arts programs. This last round has $156 million provided in relief funds – with nearly 4,000 grants going to 3,951 businesses in over 500 cities, towns and localities in 95 counties across the state.

Businesses received an average grant amount of $39,484 with the following median awards amounts broken out by sector:

  • Hotels: $62,458
  • Restaurants: $50,000
  • Arts: $5,000

Eighty-five percent of recipients did not receive any prior B2B or Business Interruption Grant (BIG) relief, according to the state release. A list of Illinois B2B grantees can be found here.

“Illinois’ small business are the backbone of our economy and a cornerstone of our pandemic recovery,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in Friday’s release. “Since day one, my administration has been committed to supporting every business in our state—ensuring that every business owner and entrepreneur has the opportunity to succeed. Across the state, the Back to Business program kept thousands of restaurants, hotels, and arts organizations open, protected thousands of jobs, and kept our communities thriving.”

In this Feb. 22, 2021, file photo, Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at Chicago State University in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

“The Back to Business grants are a bridge for continued economic success as the hospitality and arts sectors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. “Restaurants, hotels, and the arts enliven our state’s economy. I’m thrilled this much-needed relief supports our hospitality businesses and the arts in our communities.”

B2B Arts and B2B Restaurants grant award amounts were determined based on a percentage of revenue declines, and funding for the B2B Hotels awards was allocated based on the number of rooms.

Grants had an average award amount of $39,484, with different ranges of funding available depending on the business type. The grant program used American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and was designed to offset losses and support job retention in the industries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Back to Business program has been a lifeline for thousands of Illinois businesses in recent years, and the latest round of grants will help keep the doors open for restaurants, hotels, and arts organizations in every corner of the state,” said DCEO director Kristin Richards. “Supporting employers and the state’s world-class workforce is a top priority for DCEO, and the B2B program is providing much-needed assistance to businesses while bolstering the economy.”

In order to reach hardest-hit populations, DCEO enlisted a network of approximately 100 community navigators to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance in communities across the state, as well as industry-specific navigators for restaurants, hotels and arts, as well as additional support from other industry partners.

“It was so inspiring to see our statewide arts community work together to ensure this $50 million landed in the hands of organizations, businesses, and creative workers who suffered such loss through the pandemic,” said Claire Rice, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois. “Despite ongoing challenges, our creative community continues to make vital contributions to our economy and our wellbeing, and this program offered invaluable assistance at a time when it is greatly needed.

Moline-based Fresh Films, which works with students nationwide, received $55,000 in Illinois Back to Business funds.

“We thank the State of Illinois for dedicating this funding to arts and culture and our creative community for coming together around this opportunity,” she said. “We hope the state builds on the momentum of this historic moment and continues to show its commitment to supporting the arts in Illinois.”

“This substantial amount of funds infused into the arts and culture sector recognizes the immense value the arts bring to our communities,” said Nora Daley, board chair of the Illinois Arts Council.

It is a resounding affirmation that the state of Illinois supports the creative economy as we have had significant losses these past couple of years,” she said.

“This support will unleash stability and a wave of innovation and artistic expression that will enrich our lives and propel our society forward.”

QC area grants

The arts groups in Rock Island County receiving funding are:

  • Quad Cities Jazz Festival (Polyrhythms): $10,000
  • AF Studio, Moline: $15,000
  • Hartley Studio, Moline: $5,000
  • Rascals Live, Moline: $15,000
  • Big River Brass Band: $5,000
  • Center for Belgian Culture: $5,000
  • Fresh Films, Moline: $55,000
  • Mercado on Fifth, Moline: $20,000
  • Playcrafters, Moline: $5,000
  • Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico: $5,000
  • Quad City Music Guild: $20,000
  • Quad City Symphony Orchestra: $45,000
Music director Mark Russell Smith conducts the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, which received $45,000 in state relief funds.
  • Rock Island County Historical Society: $30,000
  • Black Box Theatre, Moline: $5,000
  • Backwater Gamblers, Rock Island: $10,000
  • Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance: $5,000
  • Genesius Guild, Rock Island: $5,000
  • Pottery With Mis Carolyn: $5,000
  • QC Botanical Center, Rock Island: $15,000
  • Rozz-Tox, Rock Island: $10,000
  • Skylark Recording, Rock Island: $5,000

In Henry County, grants were approved for Wiley Park Productions of Galva ($35,000), Richmond Hill Players of Geneseo ($10,000) and Fox Tales International of Bishop Hill ($10,000).

In Knox County, grants were given to Casey Foubert, Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg Community Chorus, Discovery Depot Children’s Museum, Knox-Galesburg Symphony, Prairie Players Civic Theatre, Performing Arts Academy of Galesburg, Nova Singers, Choral Dynamics of Galesburg, Creations By Carolina, and Knox County Fair Board Association.

In Aledo, Myrna Rae’s Studio of Dance also received a $10,000 B2B grant.