The COVID-19 pandemic proved especially difficult for many small businesses along Illinois’ borders, as shutdowns drove customers to shop elsewhere. State Rep. Mike Halpin is leading the effort to help them rebound and flourish.
Halpin (D-Rock Island) is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 3930, which was introduced in January and was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in mid-May. The bill was co-sponsored by Andrew Chesney (R, Freeport). The bill expands the Illinois Home Grown Business Opportunity Act, which was passed in 2018, to focus on helping communities and small businesses along Illinois’ borders. A special Border Community COVID-19 Mitigation Grant Program will be created through the state government to direct both money and opportunities directly to border areas. The program will study and recommend best practices to encourage stronger economic development efforts along the borders.
Halpin said he chose to support expanding the grant program because he personally saw how communities and employers in his district dealt with unprecedented difficulties during the pandemic.
“We have provided billions of dollars to help Illinoisans across our great state dig out of the financial burden left behind by COVID-19. It’s only right and fair that we make an effort to do the same for cities and businesses along the Mississippi River and our other borders, because the competitive marketplace has left many of them behind,” Halpin said.