Business Resources during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Village of Shorewood is committed to the continued success of our business community, especially as we all navigate through this public health crisis. Below are a list of financial, business and industry resources related to COVID-19. Please contact Kelley Chrisse at (815) 741-7708 or email@example.com with inquiries or to add/update resources.
Re-opening Your Business
Governor Pritzker has announced a reopening plan (Restore Illinois) that identifies five phases and divides that state into four regions. Each phase has specific benchmarks that need to be achieved before advancing onto the next phase which will ease up on restrictions. Each region can independently move through phases as well. The entire state is currently in phase 2 but expects to move into Phase 3 on Friday, May 29th. Will County is part of the Northeast region along with Cook, Kankakee, Grundy, Kendall, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and DuPage counties. The graphic below provides an overview of the plan or you can view the full Restore Illinois Plan.
As we plan to enter into Phase 3 of the plan on May 29th, the re-opening of these businesses will be in accordance with IDPH guidance. Formal industry-specific guidance is expected from the State of Illinois in the coming days. Stay tuned for additional information as it is released. In the meantime, be sure to check out these resources:
- Back to Work Safely - industry-specific guidelines published by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
- CDC - guidance for all businesses as well as limited industry-specific guidance
- IDPH - Workplace Health and Safety Guidance for Employees and Staff of Businesses
- National Retail Federation - checklist for Operation Open Doors
- Restore Your Economy - industry-specific guidance published by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with funding by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
- COVID-19 Re-Opening Best Practices - guidance for retailers and restaurants to re-open published by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
All businesses that have employees physically reporting to a work-site must comply with and post the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Office of the Illinois Attorney General regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 emergency.
The Governor's extended Stay at Home Order requires capacity of retailers be reduced by half the store capacity or, alternatively, at occupancy limits determined by DCEO. This guidance also clarifies other requirements set out in the order, such as one-way aisles and the face coverings requirement.
Businesses are responsible for ensuring their employees wear face coverings when they cannot maintain social distancing as well as communicating to its customers that face coverings are required. Shorewood PD has begun distributing the "Let's Face It" poster designed and being distributed by Representative Batinick's Office. If you haven't received one, download the "Let's Face It" poster to display at your businesses' entrance(s) or request a hard copy by contacting Kelley Chrisse.
Temporary Sign Relief
In order to provide as much exposure for the businesses hit the hardest during the pandemic, the Village Board adopted a resolution to stay enforcement of temporary sign regulations. Here's what it allows:
- Eligible Entities: Small businesses that have been classified as “non-essential” by the Governor’s Order; small, independently-owned restaurants; and other retailers occupying spaces of up to 7,500 square feet in size are able to take advantage of the temporary sign relief.
- Location: Signs shall be placed on the subject property, provided that there is street frontage. For the properties without street frontage but located within a shopping center, signs may be placed off-premises only on immediately adjacent properties within the same shopping center and only with adjacent property owner approval. Signs shall not be placed within the right-of-way, within the vision triangle if taller than 36-inches in height and must be 3-feet from any property line. The Village retains the right to remove signs within the right-of-way and direct the removal of signs posing a risk to public safety.
- Number and Size of Signs: One temporary sign of up to 32 square feet shall be allowed per street frontage of the subject property or an adjacent property within a shopping center as identified above.
- Type of Signs: Only a banner, feather flag, portable sign or yard sign will be allowed. Any other type of temporary signage would be required to follow the zoning regulations, including obtaining a sign permit.
- Duration: Temporary signs installed by eligible entities that comply with the allowances above will be permitted to display the temporary sign through Labor Day (Monday, September 7, 2020).
- Permit: A sign permit will not be required by eligible entities to install a temporary sign that complies with the allowances above.
The waiver of a permit does not negate the need to get property owner approval before a temporary sign is installed. Be sure to support local businesses, such as Express Signs & Lighting, Graphic Promotions, PostNet, Staples or the UPS Store for your temporary sign needs. Reach out to Natalie Engel at (815) 553-2314 or Kelley Chrisse at (815) 741-7708 with questions.
If your business does not qualify for Temporary Sign Relief, you can still erect temporary signage with a sign permit and in accordance with Village Code. Complete the Sign Permit Application and submit the required documentation either by mail or in the payment drop box at Village Hall, One Towne Center Blvd, Shorewood, IL 60404.
Business Counseling, Mentoring & Training
There are a lot of options to evaluate. If you're not sure where to start, check out the Coronavirus Small Business Resource Hub, including free webinars, hosted by SCORE. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a network of volunteer, expert business mentors, that has compiled resources for keeping your business afloat during this public health crisis. This article provides some insight into Business Interruption insurance coverage but there are other resources available for FREE or a minimal fee. They have mentors available that can help you make sense of it all. Many of their services are free and those that require a fee are minimal.
Other assistance is available through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Joliet Junior College (JJC). SBDCs are a national network of nearly 1,000 centers that are located at leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private partners. They provide counseling and training to new and existing businesses. Contact Kevin Lynch, Small Business Advisor, at (815) 280-2957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional funding has been allocated to provide enhanced training and business advisory services.
The Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) is also available to offer assistance. WBDCs are a national network of more than 100 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance and mentoring to entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics. In addition to women, WBCs are mandated to serve the needs of underserved entrepreneurs, including low-income entrepreneurs. They often offer flexible hours to meet the needs of their diverse clientele. Contact Maura Mitchell, Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Services, at (312) 853-3477 x130 or email@example.com.
Grants & Loans
Intuit has developed Intuit Aid Assist - a free service for everyone - that helps U.S.-based businesses, self-employed, contractors, freelancers, and gig workers understand different business relief programs. Start with a loan eligibility assessment or get an estimate with a loan calculators. Note that these estimates do not include state grant or loan programs.
Federal Relief Programs
The Illinois District Small Business Administration (SBA) Office is available to answer questions about these programs. Sign up for a webinar HERE to learn more about each program or contact them at (312) 353-4528 or IllinoisDO@sba.gov. If you're not sure where to start, check out this comparison chart for the federal programs HERE.
Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program w/ Emergency Advance - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has made funds available to provide assistance to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This loan offers an emergency advance of up to $10,000 that is payable within 3 days of submitting an application and does not require repayment, even if the loan is denied. The loan and advance may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay but payments will be deferred for a year regardless of the repayment terms. More information about the Disaster Assistance Loans available through the SBA can be found HERE as well as through webinars that give an overview of the process for small business owners (see information above). As soon as the application window opens up, you can start your application HERE but be sure to review the information required before you apply.
Funding Availability Notice: EIDL applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. No new applications are being accepted at this time.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - forgivable loan of up to $10,000 to keep current employees on the payroll available through June 30, 2020. Loan forgiveness requires all employees to remain on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Click HERE to learn more. This loan must be applied for through local lenders, which include Bank of America at (815) 439-5506, BMO at (815) 741-6464, Chase Bank at (815) 729-8000, Fifth Third Bank at (815) 207-5681, First Midwest Bank at (815) 609-1260, Shorewood Bank & Trust at (815) 609-7785 and TCF Bank at (815) 463-4010. Other entities that are providing PPP loans include Intuit, Kabbage, PayPal, and Square.
Funding Availability Notice: The SBA will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30am EDT.
Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program - allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. The program can be used to bridge the gap while waiting to receive funding through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Learn more HERE.
- Small Business Debt Relief Program - provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. Learn more HERE.
State of Illinois Relief Programs
Hospitality Emergency Grant Program - The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is redistributing $14 million of their funds to provide grants to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. The deadline to apply has passed. Grant awards were announced HERE.
Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund - DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are partnering with Accion, the Illinois Bankers Association and the Community Bankers Alliance of Illinois to create this fund. Small businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 can apply for a low interest loan of up to $50,000 that can be used to support working capital. 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. As of 6:00pm on April 1st, businesses that submitted an expression of interest form have been contacted at the email address provided. Be sure to check your junk, spam or promotions folders if you submitted the form and have not received a response. If you didn't submit an Expression of Interest form, eligible businesses are now able to submit their application HERE. Once submitted, it is expected to make a loan decision within 10 days, and make funds available within two days of receiving bank information from a business.
Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program - The Illinois Treasurer's Office is partnering with local financial institutions to provide bridge loans up to $250 million at net-zero rates for Illinois small businesses and non-profits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks looking to become an approved financial institution can find more information HERE. Illinois businesses and non-profits can apply for loans through the participating financial institutions listed HERE. More information on this program will be posted as it becomes available.
Other Relief Programs
Women Business Development Center (WBDC) Direct Lending Program - With funding and grants directed towards Illinois-based businesses, we are supporting borrowers through the WBDC Direct Lending Program by: Deferring principal payments for the next three months and extending loan maturities for three months from original maturity dates; Requesting additional resources to expand the increasing financial technical assistance support needed by clients; Pursuing emergency funds to provide loans with longer principal grace periods, extended maturities, lower interest rates, collateral over advances, and faster underwriting standards. Loans are typically up to $25,000 to startups and up to $50,000 to established businesses with a personal guaranty, collateral, and interest rates between 6% and 12%. Contact Client Services Assistant, Gabriella Bomben, at 312-853-3477 Extension #100 with inquiries.
COVID-19 Emergency (1E) Assistance Program - The Workforce Investment Board of Will County is providing reimbursement to essential businesses through the Statewide Rapid Response Funding for Layoff Aversion Activities in Response to COVID-19. The program details are available HERE, as well as the application.
- BMO Financial Relief Program (Only available to current BMO customers) - To help alleviate some of the financial pressures our clients may be facing, BMO has introduced a financial relief program for those impacted by COVID-19. The financial relief program is tailored to individual circumstances and needs and could include: deferral of payments on mortgages, deferral of payments on loans and credit cards and fee waivers on loans, credits cards and deposit accounts. The program also includes accommodations for BMO Small Business and Business Banking clients. Please contact us at 1-800-888-8586 to speak with a BMO representative.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program - Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. So far, the program is being rolled out in specific geographic areas. Follow along on Facebook for Business webpage and sign up for updates.
- Salesforce Small Business Grants - Salesforce is partnering with Ureeka to offer eligible small businesses the opportunity to receive a $10,000 grant to help them through the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible businesses must be for-profit, have between 2 and 50 employees, have been in business for 2 full years as of March 2020, have an annual revenue between $250k and $2M, and have experienced challenges from COVID-19. Additional eligibility requirements are listed in the Grant Program Terms. Applications are being accepted starting at 10:00am on Friday, April 24th running through 1:50am on Saturday, May 2nd. An eligibility form is required to be completed prior to completing the application. Learn more about the grant program and complete the eligibility form HERE. Other assistance is being offered from Salesforce is available HERE.
Employee Retention Credit - The IRS is administering a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses) that Eligible Employers pay their employees, which is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The Employee Retention Credit applies to qualified wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. There are only two exceptions: 1) State and local governments and their instrumentalities and 2) businesses that take small business loans. This prevents “double dipping” as the small business loans used for payroll costs – including the payment of associated federal and state employment taxes – for retaining employees are eligible to be forgiven. The credit is not available to businesses that receive assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. Read the FAQs for the Employee Retention Credit for more information. Additional information can be found in the Guide to the Employee Retention Tax Credit published by US Chamber of Commerce.
Payroll Tax Deferral - The IRS will allow taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA taxes, the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer FICA rate), and half of SECA tax liability. The tax deferral is not provided to taxpayers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Federal Income Tax - The IRS issued guidance that allows corporate taxpayers deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline. Clilck HERE for additional tax relief information.
State Income Tax - The State of Illinois is extending the income tax filing and payment deadline by three months, from April 15 to July 15. The Department of Revenue (IDOR) will continue to process tax refunds for those filing ahead of the new deadline. Learn more HERE.
- Sales Tax - The State of Illinois will defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants. Under the directive, eating and drinking establishments that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May made late. Penalties and interest will be automatically waived; however, qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return even if they are unable to make a payment. Any taxpayers taking advantage of this relief will be required to pay their sales tax liabilities due in March, April and May in four installments starting on May 20 and extending through August 20. For more information, see IDOR’s informational bulletin or visit tax.illinois.gov for other taxpayer resources.
Many utility companies are modifying their operations or services as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (This is not intended to be a comprehensive list or serve as an endorsement, rather to provide information about utility services. As these offers are provided by each company, they are subject to change at any time.) The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has compiled information on providers and programs offering free or low-cost broadband.
- AT&T - suspending termination service due to inability to pay, waiving late fees, providing free access to WiFi hotspots and providing unlimited data for existing customers; businesses will receive 90 days of conference calls and video conferencing services free when they sign up for Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T
- Comcast - suspending termination service due to inability to pay, waiving late fees, providing free access to WiFi hotspots for 60 days, providing unlimited data for existing customers and offering free basic internet service for 60 days to new customers
- Verizon - waiving late fees for residential and small business customers impacted by COVID-19, offering free international calling to CDC level 3 countries
- T-Mobile - offering bill payment flexibility and providing unlimited data to current customers for 60 days with additional data for mobile hotspot users
- Sprint - suspending termination service due to inability to pay, waiving late fees, providing unlimited data and free access to WiFi hotspots, offering free international calling to CDC level 3 countries
- Shorewood Utilities - delinquent utility accounts will not be disconnected and late fees will not be applied. Water and sewer services will continue uninterrupted and Waste Management will continue to provide regular waste collection services
- Nicor Gas - suspending service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately for both residential and commercial customers through May 1
- ComEd - suspending disconnects for customers unable to pay their bills and waiving new late payments charges through at least May 1
Webinar/Video Conferencing Platforms (FREE)
Many businesses have been forced into changing how they operate if they want to continue operating during these challenging times. This article outlines some FREE options for consideration if your business model is expanding to include virtual training/sessions and/or video conferencing/collaboration.
Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Essential Business Guidance - The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has published guidance on determining if your business or activities are deemed essential. See FAQs for additional information. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA) has provided these FAQs regarding essential businesses in manufacturing.
Guidance for Businesses Remaining Open - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published interim guidance for businesses and employers regarding the planning, preparing and responding to the Coronavirus. Visit the CDC webpage for more details. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have standards for COVID-19, click HERE to see which requirements may help prevent exposure to COVID-19. This Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 published by OSHA provides recommendations for maintaining a healthy workplace.
Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave - The Families First Coronavirus Response Act establishes a federal emergency paid-leave benefits program to provide payments to some employees. It requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks' worth of paid sick leave if employees are unable to work because they're subject to quarantine or isolation, are experiencing symptoms of COVID–19, are caring for someone who is in quarantine or isolation and/or have children in schools that have closed. Employers themselves will receive tax credits to offset the costs of providing this paid leave. The legislation also gives up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equivalent to no less than two-thirds of the person's pay. Click HERE to learn more or read the Employer Guide to Coronavirus Paid Leave Programs published by the US Chamber of Commerce.
Effective as of April 1st, employers must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. All employers covered by the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (i.e., certain public sector employers and private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required to post this notice. Given many are working remotely, an employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. The poster can be found on the US Department of Labor's site HERE.
Unemployment - Governor Pritzker announced via press release plans to provide unemployment benefits to workers without sick leave impacted by COVID-19. Here are some FAQs about having to temporarily lay-off or furlough employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have employees that are temporarily laid off or otherwise unable to work, direct them to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) website for FAQs on unemployment eligibility HERE. The federal government is providing an unemployment stimulus, which is summarized HERE. This benefit can be up to $600/week until July 31, 2020 on top of the State's unemployment benefits, if eligible. The federal stimulus will also provide benefits to independent contractors, self-proprieters and other workers not typically eligible for unemployment benefits.
Professional Licensing & Registration - Verify with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation if your professional licensure or registration has been impacted by COVID-19. They have created a list of RESOURCES by industry/profession.
Small Business Resilience Toolkit - Facebook has developed a framework for small businesses that may not have the time or resources to create an extensive plan to recover from business interruptions. Given that many businesses are experiencing interruptions, check it out HERE.
Professional Development - Rasmussen College offers its eRasmussen suite of professional development training for FREE! This program is being offered online (eRasmussen) that will extend access to its online non-credit courses at no cost through July 31, 2020. Learn more HERE.
Additional information and resources for businesses affected by COVID-19 will be posted here as it becomes available.