Small businesses in Morgan County who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible to apply for a grant. The Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce and Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation have partnered with local governments to create a plan and timeline to complete and submit applications for the Illinois Downstate Business Stabilization Program.
Kristen Jamison of the JREDC says that businesses in Morgan County have a limited time to apply. “We have decided that small businesses within Morgan County have until 5PM on Friday, April 17th to complete a 2-page form that is on the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program website, and that can be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website. That form will serve as a pre-application to determine whether they are eligible. There are a number of businesses that will not be eligible unfortunately. For instance, not-for-profits, independent contractors, franchises or chains, private clubs that limit numbers on membership for reasons other than capacity, a business that derives 33% of its annual revenue from gambling activities all will not be eligible.”
The Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program grants can cover the cost of 60 days of working capital for businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The program’s goal is to keep businesses open or assist closed businesses in reopening as soon as possible. A primary target of the program is businesses considered “non-essential” by the Governor’s Executive Order without the ability for employees to work remotely. However, businesses in “essential” categories who have been unable to stay open might also qualify but will need to explain their circumstances.
Businesses located in the City of Jacksonville should submit their form electronically to Mayor Andy Ezard at email@example.com, and those businesses located outside of the city but within the county should submit their applications to Morgan County Regional Planner Dusty Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jamison says that after the applications are completed, a formal hearing will take place on May 1st. Jamison says that businesses who do not want their income information public may not want to apply. “Financials will be taken into account with this program, and because there will be a public forum, the business financials will be subject to that forum. If a business is not comfortable with their financials being a part of the conversation, then this program is not a good fit for them.”
Jamison says that the money for the grants will run out. “The State of Illinois and DCEO anticipate about 800 businesses are going to apply to this program. While it is specific to downstate small businesses, 800 businesses will go pretty quickly. We want to make sure that we are giving all our small businesses in Morgan County the opportunity to realize that funding.”
For more information about the grant, applicants are encouraged to look at the DCEO’s guidebook of the program on their website.