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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 kchrisse@vil.shorewood.il.us with inquiries or to add/update resources.


Operating Your Business

Village Approved Relief

Shorewood CARES Small Business Relief Program - Round 2

Demonstrating the Village's support for the economic welfare of Shorewood Small Businesses, the Village Board adopted the Shorewood CARES Small Business Relief Program and recently approved a second round of funding.  This program will provide grants of up to $10,000 to eligible small businesses that experienced a loss as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  The goal of the program is to reimburse one of the most expensive operating expenses (rent/mortgage) in order to allow our small business community to focus on the future of their businesses.  Read more about the program HERE.  Applications are no longer being accepted.

Business Renewal Fee Waivers & Reduction

In order to ease the transition into 2021, the Village Board approved a waiver of business renewal fees for all Shorewood businesses with the exception of mid-box and big-box retailers.  This waiver applies to the 2021 renewal fees for business licenses, business registrations, tobacco licenses and liquor licenses.  The Village Board also approved a 50% reduction of the 2021 renewal fees for video gaming machines.  A renewal application will still be required to be completed but the fee shown on the renewal form will reflect the waiver or reduction, as applicable.  Business License/Registration renewal applications were mailed starting the week of November 16th.  Questions about the waiver or fee reduction can be directed to Kelley Chrisse at kchrisse@vil.shorewood.il.us or (815) 741-7708.  Questions about business licensing/registration can be directed to Building Department staff at (815) 553-2150 or businesses@vil.shorewood.il.us.  Questions about liquor licensing and video gaming can be directed to Toni Dulny at (815) 725-7713 or tdulny@vil.shorewood.il.us. 

Temporary Signs

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. Read more HERE.  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.

Temporary Off-premises Outdoor Dining/Seating Areas

In order to offer greater economic opportunity by providing the ability to expand service options for Shorewood restaurants, breweries and bars/taverns, the Village Board approved the use of temporary off-premises outdoor dining and seating areas.  Click HERE to learn more or APPLY for a free outdoor dining permit.  Questions about the permitting process can be directed to Natalie Engel, Village Planner, at nengel@vil.shorewood.il.us or at 815.553.2314. 

Temporary Sale of Alcohol for Off-Premises Consumption

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Illinois has temporarily allowed the sale of alcohol, including mixed drinks, for off-premises consumption.  In order for Shorewood restaurants and bars to take advantage of these temporary allowances, the Village Board adopted an ordinance that allows the sale of alcohol, including mixed drinks, to-go consistent with State law.  Read the details HERE.  


Marketing Your Business

It is more important than ever to get as much exposure for your business.  Consider the following options to get out in front of residents and potential customers:

  • Donate branded and promotional items to be included in Welcome Bags that are provided to all new residents and anyone opening a new water bill account with the Village.  The information and goodies in these bags give new residents a preview of local businesses and encourages them to shop locally.
  • Donate pens and notepads to be placed at the service counters at Village Hall to be used by customers.  Often times these are taken by the customer so they will be reminded of your business every time they look at your pen which will encourage them to become your customer through name recognition.
  • Advertise in The Shorewood Connection (Village Newsletter) that is distributed quarterly to every household and business. That's 7,500 opportunities to be seen by potential customers.
  • Sponsor an Event through the Parks and Recreation Department. (Check our calendar for updated events.) Being involved in community events helps to promote brand awareness and customer loyalty.
  • Make an In-Kind Donation for prizes and giveaways at Village events and programs. (Check our calendar for updated events.) These items serve as a great way to encourage customers to visit your business (online or in-person).
  • Be Social! The Village of Shorewood has more than 4,500 followers on Facebook and the majority of posts reach 1,000-6,000 people. Let us know about any of your business’ accolades, celebrations, or milestones for us to share with our followers.

If you want to donate items for use in the Welcome Bags or for use at our service counters, contact Kelley Chrisse at kchrisse@vil.shorewood.il.us or (815) 741-7708. If you are interested in advertising, sponsoring or donating prizes and giveaways, contact Katie Fitzpatrick or Luke Gundersen at (815) 741-7710 or parks@vil.shorewood.il.us.

 


Restore Illinois

Governor Pritzker 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.  On July 15th, the Governor released his COVID-19 Mitigation Plan that makes some modifications to the Restore Illinois Plan with supplemental actions that can be taken to combat a resurgence of COVID-19.  The plan takes the four original regions and divides the state into 11 regions.  Will County is now included in Region 7 with Kankakee County.

Currently, Region 7 is in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.  Monitor the status of the Region through Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) Illinois Regional COVID-19 Resurgence Criteria. Answers to questions about Phase 4 and Resurgence Mitigations can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out Phase 4 FAQs and these additional 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
  • Restore Your Economy - industry-specific guidance published by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with funding by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)

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 pandemic.  

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.  If you would like a "Let's Face It" poster to display at your businesses' entrance(s), download it or request a hard copy by contacting Kelley Chrisse


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 FREE counseling and training to new and existing businesses.  Contact Mike Wilczynski, Manager of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at JJC, at mwilczyn@jjc.edu or (815) 280-2735 or Vince Beachum, Small Business Advisor, at (815) 280-2957 or vbeachum@jjc.edu.  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 mmitchell@wbdc.org

The Will County Business Services Team of the Workforce Center of Will County is comprised of unique partners across the county offering a variety of Recruitment, Retention, and Training services to businesses and organizations.  The majority of services offered come at no cost to the business.  Contact them at 815-727-4444 or their partners at http://will.works/business-services for additional resources to address recruitment, training, and retention needs.


Financial Assistance

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 the Small Business Owner's Guide to COVID-19 Relief Legislation.

  • Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has made funds available to provide assistance to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The loan 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.  Submit your application HERE

    Funding Availability Notice: Effective as of June 15th, new EIDL applications are being accepted.  EIDL applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis so be sure to get your application submitted ASAP.  A Targeted Emergency Advance is only available for limited applicants and only those that the SBA contacts directly.

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - forgivable loan to keep current employees on the payroll.  The program is being re-opened starting January 11, 2021 through May 31, 2021.  Be sure to review the program updates from the COVID-19 Relief Legislation that passed in December 2020.  Learn more about applying for new or subsequent funding HERE.  Check out the program details and FAQs in the Small Business Owner's Guide to COVID-19 Relief Legislation.  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. Guidance has been published for loan forgiveness, including the inability to re-hire your employees while retaining loan forgiveness.  Be sure to also review information on SBA loan review procedures and related borrower and lender responsibilities.  If you have already received PPP funding and are looking to apply for loan forgiveness, read the EZ Loan Forgiveness Instructions to determine if your business is eligible to complete the EZ Loan Forgiveness Application.  If ineligible for the EZ form, read the Loan Forgiveness Instructions before completing the Loan Forgiveness Application.

  • 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

  • Business Interruption Grant (BIG) - The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has announced a grant program available to small businesses that will provide $540 million in grants to up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures.  Click HERE to learn more and to apply. 

  • 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 FundDCEO 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.  No additional applications are being accepted at this time but check back HERE for additional information.  

  • 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.  Learn more about the program by clicking HERE.

Other Relief Programs

  • Women Business Development Center (WBDC) Direct Lending ProgramWith 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.

  • Will County Small Business Assistance Grants - The Will County Small Business Assistance Grant Program is now accepting applications for Round 3 of funding.  Eligibility criteria has been modified to only fund small businesses that have not previously received funding from Will County.  Grants of up to $10,000 are available to businesses that meet the program criteria.  Applications are being accepted in English and Spanish.  Click HERE to learn more about the program.

Tax Relief

  • 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.

 

Utilities

Many utility companies have modified their operations or services as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, many utility providers have agreed to extend the moratorium on service disconnections through March 31, 2021.  Read more about utility assistance HERE.  Note that any business experiencing hardship should contact their service providers to discuss relief options.

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 provided an unemployment stimulus, which is summarized HERE.  This benefit could have been up to $600/week until July 31, 2020 on top of the State's unemployment benefits, if eligible.  The federal stimulus also provided benefits to independent contractors, self-proprieters and other workers not typically eligible for unemployment benefits.  If another stimulus package is adopted, provisions could include additional unemployment benefits similar to those previously enacted.

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.

 


Industry Resources

Additional information and resources for businesses affected by COVID-19 will be posted here as it becomes available.