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Pictured right, John Hamm III, Mayor for the City of Madison, Illinois, has served on the board at America's Central Port since 1997. His recent service as the Chairman of the Board for this past 2020 fiscal year marks his sixth term as Chairman. The Port is honored to recognize his exceptional service and appreciates his continued leadership.

Pictured left, former mayor for the City of Grafton, Illinois, Tom Thompson, was appointed to the board in 2015, elected Treasurer in July of 2018, and will serve as Chairman of the Board for America’s Central Port starting in July of 2020 through June 2021.

Created in 1959 by the State of Illinois, America's Central Port is a special-purpose unit of local government whose mission is to develop multi-modal transportation, create business expansion opportunities, and facilitate and assist in job creation for the region.

On June 30th, U.S. Representative Bost (IL-12) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase access to critical federal funding for small ports, terminals, and waterways. Bost’s bill, the Coastal and Inland Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act, establishes a competitive grant matching program for projects at smaller ports and terminals AND makes privately-owned terminals that are important contributors of our maritime commerce system eligible for assistance.

America’s inland ports and terminals are a vital and undervalued contributor to the movement of commerce,” said Aimee Andres, Executive Director of Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals, Inc. of East Alton, Illinois.

“Every year, 575 million tons of cargo travels through our inland ports and waterways, including America's Central Port and Kaskaskia Port in Southern Illinois” said Bost. “Half a million American jobs depend upon inland shipping, yet these ports are at a disadvantage when competing for federal grants. Improving these facilities will have a big impact on our economy and help make local farmers, miners, and manufacturers more competitive in the marketplace.”

In 2019, Congress enacted the PORTS Act to provide matching grants for enhancing operations and efficiency investments at our larger ports. Bost's Coastal and land Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep Conor Lamb (D-PA), expands upon the success of the PORTS Act by better utilizing an existing set-aside to establish a similar competitive grant matching program for  smaller coastal and inland ports and terminals.

The legislation sponsored by Congressman Bost (R-IL) and Congressman Lamb (D-PA), addresses inequities in existing law that have placed smaller coastal ports and terminals at a disadvantage when competing for infrastructure investments and create long-term sustainability. We appreciate their leadership on this important issue to IRPT Members”, said Andres.

This historic piece of legislation, which allows private terminals eligibility, is truly bi-partisan. The bill, sponsored by Bost (R-IL) and Lamb (D-PA), is co-sponsored by Congressmen Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (D-MO).

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is launching the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures.

Funds will be distributed to qualifying businesses in early July.

In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic. Additional priority will be given to businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), or low-income areas that have had high rates of COVID-19 cases. Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by experiencing eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount since March. (See full eligibility criteria list here.)

Specifically, the program includes support for:

  • Bars and Restaurants - Providing 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service.

  • Barbershops and Salons - Providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each for barbershops and salons.

  • Gyms and Fitness Centers - Providing 500 grants of $20,000 each for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19.

  • Businesses located in DIAs Where There Was Recent Property Damage from Civil Unrest - Providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each. Southwest Illinois communities include Alton, Wood River, Venice, Madison, East St. Louis, Lebanon, Caseyville, Washington Park, Cahokia, Dupo, Alotron, and Centreville. (see DIA map here)

WHEN AND WHERE TO APPLY: DCEO will begin accepting applications on June 26th, 2020. The application submission portal will be posted (here). Until the 26th, DCEO is posting the application questions and required documents for businesses and business support organizations to read, review and prepare.

For additional questions, submit an inquiry via the question submission form in English or Spanish. Submitting a question via the form ensures a timely response.


This $60 million funding round represents only the first wave of the BIG program, which in total will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been set aside for childcare providers. For the remaining BIG funding, DCEO will issue a NOFO at a later date to seek qualified partner(s) in assisting with administering future phases of the BIG program to small businesses. America's Central Port will continue to share the latest updates as the remaining funding is made available.

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