Financial Help for Small Businesses during the Pandemic
February 25, 2021
The SBA announced a new initiative prioritizing the smallest businesses for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. On February 24, 2021, the SBA opened a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. Borrowers can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program by downloading the First Draw PPP loan application or Second Draw PPP loan application and working with a participating PPP lender through the SBA Lender Match tool.
Additional changes to PPP funding benefiting very small businesses were announced. The program will now allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the funding formula for these categories of applicants. And exclusionary restrictions on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions will be eliminated, federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP will be eliminated, and access for noncitizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents is ensured by clarifying that they may use their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
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.
- The SBA has opened a second draw of PPP funding. Applications for this are available through March 31 for businesses that were in business as of February 15, 2020, that have 300 or fewer workers, and that have experienced a 25 percent drop in gross receipts for the same quarter between 2019 and 2020. This funding is forgivable when businesses meet qualifications described in the SBA’s Top-line Overview. There is a new PPP Second Draw Borrower application form, which must be submitted through an SBA-approved lender. And, there are new, simpler PPP Loan Forgiveness forms, which also must be submitted through your lender. COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans(EIDL) are also available through the SBA to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits.
- The Cook County Community Recovery Initiative offers support to businesses and households. They offer webinars in multiple languages to understand current business funding options, guidance for pivoting your business and free one-on-one business advising.
- 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 Village of Skokie has a Resource Page for Businesses affected by COVID-19. This page includes forms, business information, and links to local, state, and federal programs.
- 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.
- Businesses thinking through their reopening process can consult the Center for Disease Control’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 page for more information.
- Self-employed workers can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and unemployment benefits on a 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.
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.