March 21, 2023 11:29 pm

A lawsuit by a white North Side businessman has forced Cook County officials to revamp a plan that would have paid out $ten,000 grants to minority- and females-owned firms hurt by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Announced in 2022, the Supply Develop Grant System was to spend out some $71 million in federal COVID relief funds as grants to “historically excluded firms — which includes these owned by entrepreneurs of colour, females, veterans, LGBQT+ and persons with a disability — to close racial wealth and chance gaps.”

3 months just after the plan was launched, Edison Park chiropractor Domenic Cusano filed a lawsuit backed by the California-primarily based Pacific Legal Foundation, searching for an injunction to bar the plan from releasing any grants mainly because the plan would “disadvantage his application in comparison to similarly situated applicants who determine as nonwhite or Hispanic.”

The county received 22,000 applications from small business owners, but no funds have been awarded and county officials this week announced they would redesign the plan and ask applicants to resubmit.

Court records indicate Cusano’s request for an injunction was dismissed earlier this month by the judge mainly because the county had announced the plan was “rescinded” on Feb. 27.

It was not clear from the lawsuit whether or not Cusano, who mentioned he identifies as “white and Caucasian,” applied for a Develop Grant, which would have expected him to list his race on the application kind and certify that the small business was at least 51% owned by a minority, lady, individual with a disability or veteran. Cusano did not return a telephone contact Friday from the Chicago Sun-Occasions.

“While a motion to dismiss the suit has been filed, a determination by Cook County was produced to rescind and restructure the grant,” Preckwinkle spokesman Nick Mathiowdis mentioned in a statement. “To that finish, and in an work to help little firms as speedily as attainable, we have selected to restructure the grant plan rather than litigate the matter in court.”

The plan would have allotted grants to two,250 applicants. Mathiowdis mentioned the pool of funding would be elevated in the restructured plan, and will target firms that had been “disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and historically disinvested communities.”

Enterprises would have to resubmit applications for the grants, Mathiowdis mentioned.