Financial Help for Small Businesses during the Pandemic
October 13, 2020
Skokie businesses are entitled to financial help during the pandemic, and the information changes quickly. It is difficult to know where to look and what to do first. Here’s a brief summary of where to get started.
The Village of Skokie has a special, frequently updated Resource Page for Businesses affected by COVID-19. This page includes forms and the latest information and links to local, state, and federal programs.
Act quickly to take advantage of two small business grant programs.
Cook County Recovery Grant application open
Apply for a Cook County Community Recovery Small Business Assistance grant. $10,000 Recovery Grants are now available for suburban Cook County small businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19. Applications are open through October 6. The Cook County COVID-19 Recovery: Small Business Assistance program also offers free one-on-one business advising and webinars offering guidance on how to pivot your business multiple languages.
Second Round of State Funds Available for Businesses
The second round of the State of Illinois Business Interruption Grant Program (BIG) opened September 17. It is offering $220 million in assistance to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The state is prioritizing certain areas and types of business, but the grant program is open to all eligible for-profit and not-for-profit businesses with $20 million or less in annual revenue in 2019 and who experienced losses due to COVID-19. The grant size will be equivalent to two months of expenses. See additional information on the BIG program and how to apply here. DCEO will be hosting a series of webinars about the BIG Program.
Register for any of the webinars with these links:
The Village of Skokie has a special, frequently updated Resource Page for Businessesaffected by COVID-19. This page includes forms and the latest information and links to local, state, and federal programs.
Small business counselors, funded by the Small Business Administration, are available to help businesses of any size free of charge. Our local North Cook and Lake Counties SCORE chapter created a Coronavirus Resource Hub, where you can sign up for remote mentoring from a SCORE business counselor and for webinars addressing the issues businesses are encountering. Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are also available to assist businesses seeking loans, counseling, and preparedness planning. A list of nearby Small Business Development Centers, now operating remotely, can be located here.
Library Business Resources
The library has online tools to help businesses. Find customers and competitors, take online courses to sharpen your skills, create business plans, and keep up with the latest business news. If your business is located in Skokie or is a member of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce you can apply for or renew a business library card online, and use it to access library business resources remotely.
Chamber of Commerce
The Skokie Chamber of Commerce has a list of resources available to all businesses during the pandemic and is providing free business webinars on a wide range of topics to current, past, and prospective members.
Loans and Other Financial Resources
Local, state, and federal resources are available to provide some relief, even to the smallest businesses. Many of these programs are time sensitive, so don’t hesitate to apply.
- A Small Business Covid-19 Relief Program is offered through the Illinois Treasurer's Office. It is partnering with approved financial institutions to provide lower-rate loans, or loans to a business or nonprofit that would not otherwise qualify, to Illinois small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Encourage your financial institution to apply to become an approved lender through the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, if they are not already approved for this program.
- The Small Business Majority, a national nonprofit organization with an Illinois location, has an Illinois Covid-19 resource page. Its Venturize portal can connect small businesses with reputable sources of capital. Venturize also has an Illinois emergency loan resource page.
- The SBA and the Treasury issued an October 8 press release about a new shorter Payroll Protection Program loan forgiveness application and instructions for using it. The form is for PPP borrowers who received $50,000 or less from the program. The SBA notes that these borrowers are exempt from any reductions in the borrowers loan forgiveness amount based on reductions in full-time equivalent employees or reductions in employee salary or wages. It is important to check with your PPP lender, who may have their own form.
- The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act application period is now closed. This program is being administered through local banks. Businesses have 10 months after receiving PPP funds to file for loan forgiveness. PPP loan forgiveness applications must be submitted through your lender.
- Businesses thinking through their reopening process can consult the Center for Disease Control’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 page for more information.
- Self-employed workers can apply for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and unemployment benefits on a new state application portal. Self-employed workers can include sole proprietors who do not pay unemployment contributions and business owners. The process includes several steps. More details and links to apply can be found on the Illinois Department of Employment Security Learn about PUA page.