COVID-19: Business Resources
We understand the spread of the COVID-19 virus along with the Executive Order by the Illinois Governor requiring the closure of ’non-essential’ businesses and restaurants has a tremendous impact on our local businesses. In an effort to be a continued source of information during this difficult time, we also encourage business owners to continue to follow sources such as:
- Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
- U.S. Small Business Association
- U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Local Financial Institution Resources
Grants & Loan Services
Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program
The Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program is an impact investment loan program under which the State Treasurer has made up to $250 million in deposits available to financial institutions throughout the state, at near-zero rates, to assist Illinois small business and non-profits negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospitality Emergency Grant Program
To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, DCEO is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes. For more details visit the Emergency Small Business Grants and Loans Assistance page.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Small business owners can apply for a low-interest loan due to COVID-19. Click here to apply.
Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
The Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund offers small businesses low interest loans of up to $50,000. Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term. For more details visit the Emergency Small Business Grants and Loans Assistance page.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program. This allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.
Federal Small Business Stimulus Aid Programs
Small Business Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Fully Forgiven Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months.
Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries. Applications start April 3 for small businesses and sole proprietorships, and April 10 for independent contractors and self-employed individuals. Quick application is encouraged as there is a funding cap.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress will provide many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. View this guide to see information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and tax provisions outside the scope of SBA.
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enables the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer $7 billion in disaster assistance loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
What does it mean for small business?
- The SBA is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic harm as a result of the coronavirus.
- These loans may be used by small businesses to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and additional bills that can’t be paid because of COVID-19’s impact.
- The SBA loans come with long-term repayments, up to a maximum of 30 years. Loan terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to individual borrower’s ability to repay.
- The SBA has amended its disaster loan criteria to help borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. By making this change, deferments through Dec. 31, 2020, will be automatic.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) contains eight divisions designed to provide assistance to covered employees and households with eligible children affected by COVID-19. Key components of the Act include:
- Mandatory emergency paid sick leave for covered employees who, as a result of COVID-19, are quarantined, symptomatic or caring for a symptomatic individual, or caring for a child whose school has been closed.
- An expansion of unemployment benefits.
- Modifications to the USDA nutrition and food assistance programs.
- New requirements for coronavirus diagnostic testing.
- A temporary increase in the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).
What does it mean for small business?
The FFCRA affects small businesses in two key ways:
- Employer tax credits. The law provides employers with fewer than 500 employees with refundable payroll tax credits to cover the cost of providing the paid sick leave and the paid FMLA leave to their employees. Specifically, the law states that:
- Employers will receive 100% tax credit against their payroll tax liability up to the capped amount of benefits they must pay.
- Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
- Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.
- If an employer is owed more than the capped amount and a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.
- Reimbursement will be quick and easy to obtain.
- Paid sick and family leave. The law requires all private businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency paid sick or family leave for employees affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Guidance for Businesses and Employers (SBA.gov)
To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use the guidance described below and on the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers web page.
Below are recommended strategies for employers to use now. In-depth guidance is available on the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers web page:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from designated countries with risk of community spread of Coronavirus, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
- Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Common Issues Small Businesses May Encounter:
- Capital Access – Incidents can strain a small business’s financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. See SBA’s capital access resources.
- Workforce Capacity – Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure they have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.
- Inventory and Supply Chain Shortfalls – While the possibility could be remote, it is a prudent preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event one supplier cannot meet an order request.
- Facility Remediation/Clean-up Costs – Depending on the incident, there may be a need to enhance the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity by which your business conducts cleaning of surfaces frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
- Insurance Coverage Issues – Many businesses have business interruption insurance; Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
- Changing Market Demand – Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be public concerns about public exposure to an incident and they may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA’s Resources Partners and District Offices have trained experts who can help you craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.
- Marketing – It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.
- Plan – As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. It’s also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA’s website at:https://www.fema.gov/emergency-planning-exercises