The Tazewell County Board held a public hearing via conference call Friday in an effort to provide interested parties an opportunity to discuss the county’s proposed Downstate Small Business Stabilization (DSBS) application.

“The purpose of the hearing (was) to obtain citizens’ opinions, suggestions and priorities, provide required program information, and (for) public discussion of these proposed projects,” said County Board Chairman David Zimmerman.

According to Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, the county intends to apply to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a total of $1,304, 123.22 in grant money from the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funds will be used to provide working capital for the benefit of Tazewell County businesses that have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to qualify for DSBS funds, applicants must meet one of the programs three national objectives, Zimmerman added. The qualifying objectives are to benefit low-to-moderate income persons, to prevent or eliminate slums and blight, or to meet urgent community development needs.

“We’re doing this program under the urgent need objective,” Zimmerman said.

Following the public hearing, the board approved a series of resolution in support of DSBS grants to 56 area businesses by a 16-0 vote at a special meeting. Board members Mary Jo Holford, Greg Sinn, Tammi Rich-Stimson and Joe Wolfe were not present.

“I’m in full support of this,” said board member Brandon Hovey. “These people are our friends and our neighbors. This is a wide and diverse list of merchants. They range from recreational (facilities), restaurants and bowling alleys to healthcare providers. These people are stakeholders in our community, and now is the time to step up and help (them).”

The proposed grants will range from $10,000 to $25,000 and will be used to cover payroll and operating expenses.