Community leaders in the area are working to help small businesses take advantage of relief opportunities that are available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristin Jameson, President of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation, says it has been great to see a lot of our small businesses figure out how to adapt to make their business models work in what has become a very difficult business environment.
She says though that community leaders know there are many businesses that are not able to provide their services at all, during the shelter in place initiatives.
Jameson says federal assistance of some sort will be coming down the pike soon, following the $2 trillion aid package that was finalized last week, but there are several state lead initiatives that are available for small businesses now.
“There are a number of those that were unveiled recently, and couple of those have pretty quick timelines. For instance, the hospitality grant that the State of Illinois is providing through D.C.E.O., helps support things like working capitol, job training, retraining, technology, etc. And it is specific to drinking establishments, restaurants and hotels.
There are some stipulations as to how much you can apply for, depending on how much revenue you bring in during the year, and that is due by Wednesday, April 1st at 5pm. So time is of the essence for those hospitality grants. It is a lottery so we really don’t know what the chances are of being able to attain those funds, but again it’s a grant, so it’s not a loan. Those monies would not need to be repaid.”
The Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund is another resource available to businesses located outside of Chicago with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019. Jameson says business owners need to act quickly on this option as well.
“This again would be a loan of up to $50,000. Businesses need to fill out an expression of interest form online. And then the way I am interpreting it, is that lenders are then reviewing those forms and then reaching out to applicants who qualify.
While I am not certain if there is a deadline for that, it sounds like the applications will start being accepted this Wednesday, so that also is a very quick turn around. If you have a business and you are interested in this emergency loan fund, time is of the essence to fill out that expression of interest form.”
Jameson says another program being provided by the State Treasurer’s Office is working with approved state financial institutions to help small businesses stay on their feet.
“The State Treasurer has also unveiled a low interest small business relief program, and they are working with partner lenders throughout the state. That one is truly being done specifically through the Treasurer’s Office and more information is available on that site. I believe that beginning Tuesday, March 31st, there would be information available as to which banks are actually facilitating that loan.”
Jameson says the 4th program available right now is the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program, which she says local municipalities will be directly involved in.
“This fund offers small businesses to partner with local governments to access up to $25,000 in working capitol. That does not have a definite deadline, however it’s offered on a rolling basis until the $20 million of that allotted program is depleted.
The City of Jacksonville will be working with businesses that are located within the city limits, and then our Morgan County Regional Planner will be working with those who are located outside of Jacksonville, within Morgan County.”
To find out more information on the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program, contact the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out information about any of the small business programs Jameson discussed, visit the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities website at https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo