City of Rock Island approves $1.25M for small business assistance

The City of Rock Island’s Community and Economic Development Department, in partnership with the Development Association of Rock Island (DARI), has announced the creation of PEP and GRIT, two new small business assistance programs with $1.25 million in funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The business assistance programs and ARPA allocations were approved by City Council during the May 22 meeting, and the application process opened June 1.

“The economic development team is excited to roll out a pair of straightforward, easy-to-use programs that will lend a helping hand to the local business community,” said Miles Brainard, community and economic development director. “The goal is simplicity matched with sustainability.”

The Commercial Property Enhancement Program (PEP) and Growing Rock Island Together Program (GRIT) will encourage job creation, provide sustainable funding sources for assistance and help propel businesses forward.

PEP is designed to encourage new and expanding businesses, foster revitalization of commercial corridors and encourage private investment in commercial structures. Eligible applicants are commercial property owners or tenants who are planning to renovate their property.

The PEP Program provides a matching grant, up to 50% of eligible expenses or up to $20,000 match per project.

The Growing Rock Island Together (GRIT) Program provides low-interest gap financing in conjunction with a forgivable loan for projects to incentivize business expansion and attract new businesses. Eligible applicants are those relocating or expanding operations in Rock Island; industrial, commercial, retail, small or new businesses.

The GRIT Program provides a 50% low-interest loan, 50% forgivable loan, up to 30% of the total project cost, or up to $50,000 per project.

Once applicants submit a Rock Island Business Assistance Intake form, they will be contacted by an economic development team member to review the form and help determine what program or assistance might fit the proposed project. If the project is ready, the business owner will then be invited to complete a full application via the CivicServe platform.

For more information, contact the Rock Island Economic Development Department at 309-732-2920 or Stacey McIntosh, program director, Development Association of Rock Island, at 563-321-7550 or