VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Vermilion County businesses are seeing hope on horizon after receiving state grants to make up for pandemic drawbacks.

It was part of the Illinois Back to Business Grant Program. Vermilion Advantage, the County Chamber of Commerce, awarded several businesses with a piece of the money.

Director of Vermilion Advantage Nicole Van Hyftle said the grant helps pull businesses out of that pandemic hole.

“You know, the pandemic really took a toll on a lot of businesses, especially small businesses. We had a lot of mom-and-pop shops that opened up maybe weeks prior to the world shutting down,” she said. “And so these grants are meant to help alleviate some of that stress. If they’re still open and they’ve made it through, maybe this can give them that back pay to what they lost.”

28 businesses got a share of the money, totaling more than $1 million. That includes the Danville Boat Club, which received $50,000. They were awarded the most out of any other restaurant in the county.

Danville Boat Club Commodore Deb Friday said the club went through some tough times during and after the pandemic.

“We struggled, and we suffered really. I mean, we didn’t have to close permanently, but there was a lot of time when there wasn’t any activity here. So, yeah, we still had to pay all the bills,” Friday said.

Van Hyftle said the grant offers businesses hope to be ahead of the curve for the first time in years.

“We feel like, if the state’s going to give out these funds, then why not bring as much of it as we can to Vermilion County?” she said. “And we’re happy to see that that’s happened in this last round and hope that we can continue that for the next round.”

Vermilion County is bracing for another potentially large grant that will come from the state. Van Hyftle said this one will focus specifically on new businesses.