Illinois Announces $8.75M Loan Program for Social Equity Businesses

Illinois plans to distribute $8.75 million in loans of up to $500,000 at zero interest for 18 months to cannabis social equity licensees.

Full story after the jump.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is set to release $8.75 million in state-backed loans for cannabis industry social-equity licensees that are expected to open in the spring, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Eligible companies will be able to access up to $500,000 at zero interest for 18 months.  

Businesses that receive the funds and use them for rent, payroll, utility bills, and some other costs will not have to repay the loan, Emily Bolton, spokeswoman for the commerce department, told the Sun-Times.   

Under the loan program, licensees looking to start craft cultivation operations are eligible for $500,000 – the maximum amount – infusion businesses are eligible for up to $250,000, and transportation licensees can get as much as $50,000. Bolton said the $8.75 million should cover the max amount for the 37 businesses that are expected to open in the spring.

The loan announcement comes less than a week after members of the state’s minority cannabis community indicated as many as eight of 10 social equity licensees were in danger of missing the March deadline to have their businesses operational.

Lisbeth Vargas Jaimes, executive director of the Illinois Independent Craft Growers Association, said the loan announcement was “great news” but she is “waiting to see the implementation.”   

In a statement, Gov. JB Pritzker (D), said the loans are necessary to “create a truly equitable cannabis industry” in Illinois.  

“That’s why we are launching this Direct Forgivable Loan Program to provide a much-needed jumpstart for social equity applicants who’ve faced hurdles in pursuit of capital funding,” he said. “This $8.75 million will help our social equity licensees open their doors for business – a major step towards creating a prosperous cannabis industry here in Illinois.” 

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