Aftermath of Metro PCS, 1320 North Lewis Avenue in Waukegan, after it was damaged overnight on May 31 into June 1, 2020. | Photo: Waukegan 5th Ward Alderman Edith Newsome

Two Lake County businesses were awarded grants as part of a statewide economic recovery program for businesses to help rebuild after the 2020 riots.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced last Monday $976,000 to 26 small businesses and $7.45 million for businesses in commercial corridors.

The grants are the final round of Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC), a $25 million economic recovery program designed to help businesses and communities that were affected by the riots and looting on or after May 25, 2020.

On May 31 into June 1, 2020, hundreds of people looted dozens of businesses and rioters attacked police in the Waukegan and Beach Park area.

Approximately two dozen businesses were broken into and looted, and somewhere around a dozen of people were arrested by police, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said at the time.

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One of five Lake County sheriff’s squad cars that were seriously damaged in Waukegan during the unrest overnight on May 31 into June 1, 2020. | Provided Photo

Small businesses in Lake County that were awarded grants as part of the RDC program include Boost Mobile in Waukegan and Beauty City in Waukegan.

Boost Mobile was awarded $20,400 and Beauty City was awarded $1,421.

Many of the businesses awarded money from the program are in Chicago.

The state worked with LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Chicago and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives to select applicants to receive funding.

“A strong pandemic economic recovery includes recognizing that some communities have long been denied their fair share of resources,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said.

“Through the Rebuild Distressed Communities program, we are delivering $8.4 million in direct grants to over two dozen small businesses and multiple regional economic corridors to build on the impact of our $250 million Back to Business program with an equitable lens,” Pritzker added.

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Aftermath of rue21 on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan after it was looted overnight on May 31 into June 1, 2020. | Photo: Waukegan 5th Ward Alderman Edith Newsome

The RDC program also requested proposals from communities seeking long-term improvements along commercial corridors that were damaged by the civil unrest.

The funding will help with repairs and create new construction projects to enhance the viability of local businesses and their communities.

The grants also help cover the costs of damages, insurance deductibles and construction work related to repairs as a result of the rioting.

The program includes funding for seven community projects focused on boosting economic vitality in commercial corridors across Illinois.

The commercial corridor projects that have received funding are:

  • Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, $1,498,750 (affordable housing and commercial space)
  • City of Aurora, $1,200,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of East St. Louis, $900,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of Peoria, $1,200,000 (streetscape)
  • South East Chicago Chamber of Commerce, $1,450,000 (fiber optic cable enhancement)
  • West Humboldt Park Development Council, $300,000 (corridor enhancements)
  • City of Markham, $900,000 (corridor enhancements)
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These projects will repair and increase economic opportunities for impacted businesses, officials say.

“The Rebuild Distressed Communities program is another way for our state to recover, heal, and grow together,” Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton said.

“Our administration is committed to economic development that uplifts all of us, and putting our state’s small businesses and vulnerable communities at the forefront through this funding is how we expand equity and opportunity across Illinois,” Stratton added.