Update: Governmental and Other Organizations Provide Support to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

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As the impact from COVID-19 on small businesses in Illinois and throughout the country expands, governmental and private organizations are taking action to help provide some stability to this much needed sector of our economy.  While the situation remains fluid, here are some of the current avenues for small businesses in Illinois to get relief during these uncertain times.

U.S. Small Business Administration

Illinois small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now able to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The EIDL is a low-interest, fixed-rate loan that can provide up to $2 million in assistance to a small business. SBA’s EIDL funds come directly from the U.S. Treasury.

Eligibility to Apply for the EIDL:

To qualify, small businesses must demonstrate credit history, the ability to repay the loan, proof of physical presence in Illinois and working capital losses. In order to be eligible for up to $2 million of financial assistance, your business must suffer substantial economic injury as a direct result of the declared disaster. This includes:

Depending on your industry, a small business could be defined as business with a maximum of 250 employees or a maximum of 1,500 employees. The business can be a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, or private non-profit.  To see if your business qualifies, see the SBA’s definition of a small business at https://www.sba.gov/document/support--table-size-standards

Use of EIDL Funds:

Illinois small businesses receiving EIDL funds may use them to pay:

The working capital loan may not be used for refinancing, expansion, growth of any kind, or infrastructure improvements.

Application Timeframe

Illinois small businesses can apply immediately for EIDL relief at the SBA’s website: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19#section-header-21

State of Illinois Programs

The Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCEO) has announced three different programs launched in the State to assist small businesses.  They are:

1. The Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

This program was established to assist businesses in the hospitality industry. The program is funded with $14 million re-directed from resources previously budgeted for job training, tourism promotion and other purposes.  Eligible participants include bars and restaurants with a valid license to serve food or liquor and who generated revenues of less than $1 million in 2019.  The program is also available to hotels with a valid license and generated less than $8 million in 2019.  Restaurants and bars that generated less than $500,000 in annual revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000, while those that generated between $500,000 and $1 million are eligible for up to $25,000. Qualifying hotels will be eligible for up to $50,000.

Grant funds awarded to restaurants and bars can be used for working capital, job training and technology enabling new operations, including costs to implement the technology.  Hotel recipients can use funds for working capital to support the retention of employees.  Applications for the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program can be submitted online at: https://us.accion.org/news/covid-19-hospitality-business-grant-program/

2. The Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

This fund was established jointly by DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) with the purpose of offering low interest business loans up to $50,000 to small businesses located outside of the City of Chicago.  To qualify, a small business must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019.  Loan funds can be used for working capital and will have a 6-month grace period of non-repayment.  After 6 months, recipients will then make fixed payments over a 5-year term.  DCEO and IDFPR have indicated that loan decisions should be issued within 10 days of application.  Further details on the application process will be posted on the DCEO website on Friday, March 27, 2020.

3. Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

DCEO established this fund for small businesses to partner with local governments in certain eligible areas.  A map of eligible areas can be found here. The fund contains $20 million and will award grants of up to $25,000 in working capital to small business with less than 50 employees.  Local governments must apply on behalf of businesses and only units of local government recognized by the Illinois Constitution are eligible to apply. Those communities receiving an annual allocation from HUD on an entitlement are not eligible. Further details on the application process will be posted on the DCEO website on Friday, March 27, 2020.

City of Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund

On March 19, 2020, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the creation of the City’s $100 Million Small Business Resiliency Fund (Fund).  The Fund is a public-private partnership which will provide loans to small businesses located within City limits. 

Applications will be accepted starting on March 31, 2020.  Businesses must have fewer than 50 employees, demonstrate a more than 25 percent revenue decrease due to COVID-19, and have had gross revenues of less than $3 million in 2019 to be eligible. Supporting documentation, including bank statements dating back to October 2019 and their most recent tax returns, will also be required. More information on the application process can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID19Chicago

Philanthropic institutions and corporations interested in contributing to the Fund, please submit your information to investor.relations@cityofchicago.org.

Facebook Grant Program

This past Tuesday, Facebook announced a $100 million program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.  The grants will be available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. Applications will be accepted soon and will help businesses to pay rent and operational costs, as well as maintaining their workforce and connecting with customers. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/grants

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