Business Response Program has launched

We need to hear from you, our local businesses.
This program is aimed at connecting businesses to critical resources to stabilize in the short term, get back on track in the near term, and emerge stronger in the long term.

Regional Metric Dashboard

In the revision to the Restore Illinois plan, the state was broken down into 11 separate regions (vs. the previous four regions) for the purpose of tracking progress regarding coronavirus.  Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties are in Region 2 (North Central); Mason and Logan counties are in Region 3 (West Central).  IDPH has created a dashboard to track metrics like positivity, hospital admissions and hospital capacity.  This is updated daily.  You can see the dashboard here.

UPDATES

A note from the GPEDC

The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council (GPEDC) has been asked to coordinate the flow of information between local public health officials and the business community regarding COVID-19.  This is certainly a trying time in our region, state and nation. We know that the situation can be scary and frustrating for the ordinary citizen. Those of you who own or manage business have the added worry of less customers, a smaller workforce, disruption in deliveries, and a host of other issues.  We cannot solve all of those issues, but we do hope to provide you with the most timely information possible and also ask you to share your situation with us.

GPEDC cannot do this work alone and will be working with area chambers of commerce, local economic development groups and other similar groups to deliver you this information. Consequently, you may get these emails more than once.  Our apologies in advance for clogging your inbox, but over-communicating is preferable to under-communicating.

This first message will be a bit longer than normal because there is a lot of information to share: 

  1. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has put together a great and comprehensive guide to COVID-19 geared directly at businesses and employers.  You can find the guide here.  The CDC gives some excellent guidance on how to treat your employees in this difficult time. Like you, they are victims of this circumstance too.  We will all need to demonstrate compassion, flexibility and creativity to pull through this. The US Chamber of Commerce also has a great resource website (open to all) that can be found here.
  2. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has received authorization to provide small business assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. This program can provide low interest loans of up to $2M to businesses and private non-profits. More information can be found here. It’s important to recognize that the state has not yet received a disaster declaration, so the EIDL program is not yet available to Illinois businesses and non-profits.
  3. The State of Illinois is working to submit its disaster declaration to the federal government.  This will unlock programs like the SBA loan program above and others. But they need your help to document the impact of COVID-19 on business operations.  The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have created a web portal that will allow you to share information they can compile into their request.  You can complete the form by going here.
  4. Late Friday night the US House of Representatives passed a relief bill in response to COVID-19.  It is expected to pass the Senate this week and be signed by the President. Details on programs will be emerging in the coming days and weeks — and we will share them with you — but in the meantime the US Chamber of Commerce has a nice summary here.
  5. Governor Pritzker ordered all bars and restaurants to close as of 9 p.m. tonight.  The Illinois Restaurant Association has been compiling resources and information here. Their resources include a good presentation on preparing for and dealing with COVID-19 which can be found here.  The state will be publishing more guidelines on this matter today.

Finally, if you have a question, want to share information about your company’s situation, or are in need of resources, we have set up a special email address: bizinfo@greaterpeoriaedc.org.  We will do our best to address your issues as they arise.

Thank you for all you do for your community and our region.  Together, we will get through this.

COVID-19 Update: August 7, 4 PM

Emergency Rules Filed Requiring Businesses to Enforce Mask Wearing
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has filed emergency rules for businesses, schools, and child care establishments regarding the use of face coverings. These rules provide multiple opportunities for compliance before any penalty is issued. That process is as follows:

  • First, businesses will be given a warning in the form of written notice and encouraged to voluntarily comply with public health guidance.
  • Second, businesses that do not voluntarily comply will be given an order to have some or all of their patrons leave the premises as needed to comply with public health guidance and reduce risks.
  • Third, if the business continues to refuse to comply, the business can receive a class A misdemeanor and be subject to a fine ranging from $75-$2,500.

Specifically, the rules state the following:

“Any business, service, facility or organization open to the public or employees shall require employees, customers, and other individuals on the premises who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when on premises. Businesses, services, facilities or organizations that offer food or beverages for in-person consumption may permit employees, customers, and other individuals to remove their face coverings while eating or drinking, but must require face coverings at all other times.”

These rules do not apply to individuals and penalties will not exceed a misdemeanor and a $75-$2,500 fine. The emergency rules will be brought before the states Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) next week and may be overturned.

Gov. Pritzker signs Senate Bill 471
Governor Pritzker signed SB 471 to expand workplace protections. To directly protect workers in retail, the law adds a penalty for assaulting or battering a retail worker who is conveying public health guidance, such as requiring patrons to wear face-coverings or promoting social distancing. The law also increases paid disability leave for any injury that occurs after March 9, 2020 by 60 days for firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics whose recovery was hindered by COVID-19. More specifically, eligible employees include:

  • Any part-time or full-time State correctional officer or any other full or part-time employee of the Department of Corrections
  • Any full or part-time employee of the Prisoner Review Board
  • Any full or part-time employee of the Department of Human Services working within a penal institution or a State mental health or developmental disabilities facility operated by the Department of Human Services
  • Any full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter

SB 471 takes effect immediately.

Nonprofits, Churches Eligible for Reimbursement
Nonprofit and religious organizations are now able to recoup funds spent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds spent on overtime costs, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies/equipment, housing assistance, food distribution or other emergency protective measures associated with the COVID-19 response are reimbursable under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program.

Applications may be submitted online, and resources through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are available to guide applicants through the reimbursement process.  It is important to note that the PA program does not reimburse for lost wages or revenue as a result of the pandemic. Organizations that qualify should immediately begin the process, as these programs have hard deadlines.

Applicant briefings are currently underway and provide an overview of the program requirements and instructions for completing the required application forms. Previously recorded webinars can be found on the IEMA website to help guide applicants through this process at their convenience.

More information here:

Twenty Weeks of Extended Regular State Benefits Now Available
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced 20 weeks of state extended benefits (EB) are now available to those who exhaust the allotted 26 weeks of regular state unemployment and the additional 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. Illinois law provides for 20 weeks of EB during times of “high unemployment,” as defined in the law, instead of the 13 weeks of EB that was available in Illinois since May. Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefits should visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

COVID-19 Update: August 5, 5 PM

Illinois Department of Labor Survey
From IMA: The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) announced that it is partnering with the public relations firm Edelman to build a program that supports small business owners in operating safely for both their employees and customers in this new environment. In order to achieve this goal, and to understand both the impact of the virus on local businesses and what actions and information is needed for them to reopen safely in the state, IDOL has created this brief survey. If you would like to assist IDOL in assessing the unique challenges that Illinois small businesses face, please feel free to take the survey.

It Only Works If You Wear It
Illinois launched a new $5 million awareness campaign to encourage Illinois residents to wear a face covering every time they’re in public — because it only works if you wear it. The campaign will use local information to advertise on broadcast and cable television, radio, billboards and social media to the communities with the greatest risk from COVID-19.

Building on decades of public health campaigns that have helped the public adopt safety precautions as daily practices, the campaign reminds Illinoisans that wearing a mask is just like wearing a seatbelt, a helmet or life jacket, tools used every day to prevent serious injury or even death. Research has found that highlighting these commonsense comparisons is the most effective messaging to change behavior and increase mask usage. Research also demonstrates that wearing a face covering is one of the most effective ways of decreasing the spread of the virus, and new research indicates it could also provide important protection to the wearer.

Click here to view and download images and videos from the toolkit to help spread awareness of the campaign to your businesses.

COVID-19 Update: July 29,5 PM

State Announces Restrictions on Youth Sports
Gov. Pritzker today outlined a set of guidelines regarding youth sports and compliance with COVID protocols. Each sport was assigned to a risk category of high, medium or low and then associated with four levels of interaction. From the press release:  “In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed. In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play. In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only. In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.” Peoria Journal Star article here and IDPH guidance here.

Employee Retention Tax Credit
Employers who did not take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program might be able to utilize the Employee Retention Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50 percent of the qualified wages an eligible employer pays to employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. Eligible employers can get immediate access to the credit by reducing employment tax deposits they are otherwise required to make. Also, if the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may get an advance payment from the IRS. The maximum credit is $10,000.  Even nonprofit organizations can utilize this credit as it is against employment taxes which are paid regardless of exemption status. More here.

Bradley SBDC International Trade Center Offering Webinar Series on Exporting
The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at Bradley University is sponsoring a webinar series presented by experienced trade professionals and experts within their fields and will outline the reality that all businesses are confronted with, as they move to address the challenges posed by the current pandemic. These webinars will progress to proactive solutions and resources to help you identify opportunities and thrive in a future where international markets will become increasingly important for business success. All webinars are offered at no charge.

  • Website Localization to Help you Grow Your Exports, Sales, Brand, and Business Online Globally – Tuesday, August 11, 2020; 12:00pm – 1:00pm CST – Register here.
COVID-19 Update: July 23, 9 PM

Gov. Pritzker Extends Eviction Moratorium Another Month
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is giving more time to those behind on rent or mortgage payments. He’s extending a ban on evictions through August 22. A moratorium was set to expire at the end of this month. NPR news story here.

COVID-19 Update: July 16, 4:30 PM

New Career Link Website
Career Link provides comprehensive employment services to both job seekers and employers across eight Central Illinois counties: Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Mason, Fulton, Stark and McLean. Their newly redesigned website makes it easy for both types of clients to access services and learn more about available resources. Specific COVID-19 resources can be found here.

Resiliency. Recovery. Support.

The efforts to support businesses, communities, and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have been launched in full. This site is dedicated to helping the communities of Greater Peoria navigate the available programs and resources designed to support businesses and employees withstand the effects of COVID-19 and work towards economic recovery.

Financial Resources

Paycheck Protection Program Extended

The popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended until August 8.  The program still has $130 billion to lend.  PPP loans funds to small businesses based on 10 weeks worth of payroll expenses.  Companies that use the loan proceeds to keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks following disbursement are eligible to have most or even all of the loan forgiven.  In the first two rounds of PPP many small retail and restaurant businesses did not apply since they were completely shut down and did not have employees to pay.  Those businesses should consider investigating the program and connecting with their lender.  More information from Business Insider here.  Program information and application materials here.

PPP Loan Forgiveness FAQ

The SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, is providing guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Click here for details.

Updated PPP Guidance

SBA has released updated guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program:

Paycheck Protection Program Resource

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation created two webinars that help businesses and lenders with PPP Loan Forgiveness Applications. There is a link to a webinar for businesses and a link to a webinar for lenders, both found here.

Summary of Paycheck Protection Forgiveness Rules

Baker Tilly has a helpful summary of the recently released SBA guidelines on loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program here.

Paycheck Protection Program Changes Bill Signed

On June 5, President Trump signed a bill that provided more flexibility to businesses who participated in the Paycheck Protection Program.  Among the important changes are the extension of the loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks vs. 8; reduces the amount that needed to be paid toward payroll from 75% to 60%; and extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan until Dec. 31, 2020.

New Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program Released

Two new interim final rules were issued on May 22, including:

IMA Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Webinar

The Illinois Manufacturers Network recently hosted a webinar on the forgiveness portion of the popular Paycheck Protection Program.  A recording of the webinar has been placed on YouTube here.

Paycheck Protection Program Changes Likely

The US Senate overwhelmingly passed the House version of a bill to provide greater flexibility around loan forgiveness for the Paycheck Protection Program.  The following summary of the bill was compiled by America’s SBDC:

  • Extends the PPP loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks after a loan is issued or through Dec. 31, whichever comes first. Businesses that received a loan before the measure is enacted could keep the current eight-week period.
  • Extends to Dec. 31 from June 30 a period in which loans can be forgiven if businesses restore staffing or salary levels that were previously reduced. The provision would apply to worker and wage reductions made from Feb. 15 through 30 days after enactment of the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27.
  • Maintains forgiveness amounts for companies that document their inability to rehire workers employed as of Feb. 15, and their inability to find similarly qualified workers by the end of the year. Under the modified measure, companies would be covered separately if they show that they could not resume business levels from before Feb. 15 because they were following federal requirements for sanitization or social distancing.
  • Extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to Dec. 31 from June 30.
  • Requires at least 60% of forgiven loan amounts to come from payroll expenses.
  • Repeals a provision from the CARES Act that barred companies with forgiven PPP loans from deferring their payroll tax payments.
  • Allows borrowers to defer principal and interest payments on PPP loans until the SBA compensates lenders for any forgiven amounts, instead of the current six-month deferral period. Borrowers that don’t apply for forgiveness would be given at least 10 months after the program expires to start making payments.
  • Establishes a minimum loan maturity period of five years following an application for loan forgiveness, instead of the current two-year deadline set by the SBA. That provision would apply to PPP loans issued after the measure is enacted, though borrowers and lenders could agree to extend current loans.

The bill goes to President Trump for signature which is expected soon.  There is still over $100 billion available in the program. Companies that passed on the lending program originally because of certain rules should review their options again.

SBA Releases PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Detailed Instructions

SBA has released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and instructions. This guidance informs borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans. The SBA will soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities. Download the form here.

The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers including:

  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles.
  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness.
  • Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30.
  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.
Paycheck Protection Program Update

As of May 1 the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has only $140 billion left to loan (meaning nearly two-thirds of the replenished amount was loaned in the first week of this second round.)

According to SBA, 159,628 loans worth $22,551,025,846 have been approved in Illinois.  Interested businesses should contact their financial institution as soon as possible to investigate their options.  You can find a qualified lender here.  SBA has recorded a webinar on PPP and its other programs that can be accessed here.

The U.S, Treasury updated their Frequently Asked Questions document with new information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). To view this document, please click here.

Updated Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program

From IMA: The Small Business Administration offered additional guidance on the PPP program as it pertains to an evaluation of an applicant’s economic need for a loan. Under the new SBA guidance, businesses receiving less than $2 million in PPP loans will be eligible for a safe harbor provision meaning that their loan request was deemed to have been made in good faith and will not be subject to further review. Businesses with loans of more than $2 million “may still have an adequate basis” for a loan but the SBA will be able to review their loan application to determine the need for the loan. If the SBA determines that the applicant should not have received a PPP loan, then the SBA will seek reimbursement of the loan (question 46).

Paycheck Protection Program Summary

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is a new relief program built into the CARES Act.  Eligible businesses will apply through individual banks.  While the PPP is technically a loan program, a portion — and potentially all — of the loan can be forgiven.  Below is a high level summary of PPP:

Eligibility: For profit businesses with less than 500 employees (including hotels and food service businesses that have less than 500 employees per location); 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; veterans organizations; eligible self-employed individuals; independent contractors; sole proprietorships

Loan amount: The maximum loan size is equivalent to 250% of the employer’s average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million. 

Loan terms: Up to 10 years at 4% with the ability to defer principal and interest payment for between 6 and 12 months. 

Loan forgiveness: A portion of the loan (up to 100%) will be forgiven in an amount equal to how much the business actually paid for payroll costs, salaries, benefits, rent, utilities and mortgage interest during the eight weeks following the loan’s disbursement. If employees are laid off or their salaries are reduced there could be a reduction in the amount forgiven.  

How to Apply: Business owners interested in PPP should call their banker as soon as possible, ask if they are an approved Small Business Administration 7a lender (most locally are) and request a meeting to discuss this program.  Businesses can also get advice from the Small Business Development Center at Bradley University

There is a great deal of information available on the internet regarding PPP including articles published by the Economic Innovation Group, National Law Review, Bench and Forbes.

SBA Releases Information on PPP Results

SBA today released information that shows the popular Paycheck Protection Loan had already allocated $247 billion in loans to 1,035,086 businesses. The total amount of funding of the program is $349 billion, so SBA is about 60% of the way through its allocation after less than two weeks of the program being open.  Illinois ranks 4th (behind California, Texas and just behind Florida) with 44,453 loans totaling $12.5 billion.

Paycheck Protection Program Guidance

On Sunday, April 26 the Treasury Department issued a new FAQ document regarding the Paycheck Protection Program which opened to taking applications this morning at 9:30 am local time.  You can read the FAQ here.  According to some reports, there have been some technical glitches today as banks raced to upload pooled applications that were not accepted in the first round and had been completed between that round and today.  Still, Treasury reports that it processed over 100,000 loans from 4,000 lenders today.  The Consumer Bankers Association is predicting that the second round window ($310 billion) might run out of funds and close before the end of the week.

Paycheck Protection Program Training Online

The Kim Group and Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an online seminar to discuss the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and provide step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application.  A recording of the webinar can be found here.

May 19 – Over $100 Billion in PPP Funds Still Available

Over one fourth of Paycheck Protection Program funds are still available. Entities qualifying for these low interest, partially forgivable loans include small businesses (fewer than 500 employees), sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed persons, and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.  SBA has archived instructional webinars for all borrowers (here) and specifically for sole-proprietors, the self-employed and independent contractors (here). Contact your financial institution for more information. If you do not have a financial institution, send an email to bizinfo@greaterpeoriaedc.org and someone will help you find one.

EIDL Advance Funds End

The SBA has announced the conclusion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program, which provided U.S. small businesses, non-profits and agricultural businesses a total of $20 billion in emergency funding.  Having allocated the full $20 billion that was appropriated by Congress, SBA will discontinue making EIDL Advances to new applicants. By law, the SBA is not permitted to issue new EIDL Advances once all program funding has been obligated. EIDL loan applications will still be processed even though the Advance is no longer available. More here.

EIDL Summary

The Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is another relief mechanism for employers with under 500 employees and can cover costs including paid leave, maintained payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

Eligibility for the program has been expanded to include tribal businesses, cooperatives, ESOP’s, individual contractors, sole proprietors, and private non-profits with less than 500 employees.  Loans below $200K can be approved without a credit requirement, personal guarantee or one year in business requirements.

Entities eligible to apply for EIDL may request an advance in the form of an emergency grant of up to $10,000.  Applicants will not be required to repay emergency grant, even if they are ultimately denied EIDL (IEDC).

  • Helpful Q&A about the EIDL from the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
  • FORBES explanation.
  • How to apply – Call the SBDC at Bradley for assistance or apply directly through the SBA website.
EIDL Update

Jim Foley of Bradley’s Small Business Development Center reports some positive changes to the EIDL program. The biggest change is that personal guarantees are no longer required for loans of $200,000 or less. Further, loans under $500,000 do not require any collateral. SBA are processing loans directly and according to them, those that applied last week should be seeing confirmation “within days.” Clients are reporting good success in reaching the SBA hotline (800-659-2955) and confirming their place in the decision queue.

Paycheck Protection Plan vs. Economic Injury Disaster Loan

If you are confused by the differences between the PPP and EIDL programs for small business, take a look at this helpful comparison chart here.

SBA Clarification for Faith Based Organizations

The SBA has clarified that faith-based organizations are eligible to receive loans – both Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan – regardless of whether they provide secular social services.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

The SBA announced that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. EIDL is a low interest loan for small businesses under 500 employees that also provides a small grant (“advance”) of $1,000 per employee ($10,000 max). SBA’s EIDL portal has reopened and is accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses, defined as businesses engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)). For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

EIDL Loan Program Reopens For All Eligible Businesses

From SBA: To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and nonprofits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19. The EIDL program had recently just been reserved for agriculture-based businesses but is now fully open to all applicants.  Below is a high level summary of the program:

  • The SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
  • These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. The first payment is deferred for one year.
  • In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. The EIDL Advance is designed to provide emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan.

Learn more and apply here. Technical assistance available by contacting Bradley University’s Small Business Development Center here.

Federal Resources for U.S. Small Businesses

The Small Business Development Center has launched a federal resource website for U.S. small businesses affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus). You can view relevant federal agency resources, access the latest news, and search for a Small Business Advisor near you.

Debt Relief for New SBA-Backed Loans

As part of coronavirus debt relief efforts, the SBA is paying six months of principal, interest, and any associated fees for current and new SBA-backed loans disbursed before September 27 in the agency’s most popular loan programs (7(a), 504, and Microloan). Note: If you’re seeking a loan to cover fixed assets such as furniture, real estate, machinery, equipment, construction, and/or remodeling, you may need to have information to your lender by August 7 for the loan to be processed in time.

Learn more about starting or growing your small business with an SBA-guaranteed loan and start the process now to take advantage of six months of debt relief here.

Community Focused Lenders

From SBA: Still looking for capital for your small business? Want to find a smaller community-focused lender to help? SBA relaunched and revamped its LenderMatch tool to help you do just that.  Whether you’re looking for a Paycheck Protection Program loan or another traditional SBA-backed loan, complete a short LenderMatch intake form and  interested community-focused lenders will contact you within two days. An added benefit: If you get an SBA-backed loan before September 27, the SBA will pay the principal, interest, and fees for six months.

Online Tool to Connect Businesses with Financial Institutions

The U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator announced the launch of a dedicated online tool for small businesses and nonprofits to be matched with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), Farm Credit System lenders, Microlenders, as well as traditional smaller asset size lenders in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  More here.

USDA Assistance to Rural Communities and Businesses

USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

State of Illinois Announces New Business Assistance Programs

On June 17, Governor Pritzker outlined a number of new relief programs for both households and businesses.  The full list of programs can be found here.  Within that list are two programs targeting businesses: $540 million in the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program and $25 million for the Distressed Capital Program. Please refer to the press release regarding the Distress Capital Program.  The BIG program is further defined below:

DCEO launched the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures.  For full details, click here.  Summary below.

Specifically, the program includes support for:

  • Bars and Restaurants – $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing 1,000 grants of up to $20,000.
  • Barbershops and Salons – $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each.
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers – $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each.
  • Businesses located in “disproportionately impacted areas” (DIAs) that experienced recent civil unrest – $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each.  In the Greater Peoria region, only businesses in the 61604 zip code can qualify under this category.  This zip code (map) covers portions of central and western Peoria, all of the City of West Peoria and parts of Peoria County, including Bellvue and Norwood.

Businesses must have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020 and must meet specific criteria outlined here.  Any restaurant/bar, barber shop/salon or gym/fitness center that is otherwise eligible can apply regardless of whether they are located in a DIA.  However, in the first wave of grants, priority will be given to eligible businesses located in a DIA zip code: 61603, 61604, 61605, 61606 and 61610 (generally around Creve Coeur). A map of all DIAs can be found here (bottom of page). Even more preference given to businesses in “civil unrest zip codes: 61604 (as explained above).

DCEO will begin accepting applications on Friday, June 26th. This Grant Application link is for viewing only so that businesses can read, review and prepare the required documents. An application for eligible businesses to complete will be posted on June 26 on the DCEO BIG page with an anticipated deadline of July 5. DCEO will screen and qualify businesses through the application process and the grants will be awarded in a lottery style, not first come first served. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July.

Illinois Emergency Assistance to Employers at Risk of Layoffs

DCEO has made funds available to CareerLink to prevent essential, small businesses from laying off or furloughing employees.  They are looking for businesses for whom these potential grant dollars would make the difference between keeping workers on or having to layoff/furlough. Here are some sample scenarios that qualifying businesses (“essential” per the Governor’s order and “small” by the SBA’s definition) can apply to cover:

  • A small business needs their employees to be at work, on‐site, but cannot afford frequent deep cleaning to help prevent potential exposure to COVID‐19. Layoff aversion funds could be used to pay for a cleaning/sanitization service.
  • A small business whose employees use specific software or computer applications asks their employees to work from home/remotely in order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID‐19. Layoff aversion funding could be used to purchase the software programs and/or hardware (computers) that the employee would need to use from home to support their work.
  • A call center environment needs to have their employees work from home/remotely in order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID‐19. Layoff aversion funding could be used to purchase remote access supplies, including laptop computers and/or smart phones, that the employee would need to use from home to support their work.
  • In order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID‐19, a company that usually runs two shifts of workers adds a third shift, so that fewer employees are on onsite at any given time. Layoff aversion funding could be used to offset related costs to the employer or workers, excluding wages and benefits.
  • Incumbent worker training to redirect and reassign existing employees on critical business needs. Layoff aversion funding can help pay for projects to support the production of goods and services that are needed to address COVID‐19 National Health Emergency and/or preserve critical business operations to stay in business.

Please note that this list is not all inclusive. Employee payroll and benefits cannot, however, be covered through this funding opportunity. Upcoming costs as well as expenses incurred already since the start of the Governor’s stay-at-home order (March 20) can be reimbursed through this grant. The amount that can be awarded per company is $5,000-$50,000.  There is a very brief application document that companies in need should complete and submit to your local WorkNet office by close of business Wednesday, May 6.  For more information contact Norm Griffin at 309-321-0255 or ngriffin@careerlink16.com.

DCEO Creates COVID Web Resource Page

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has created a helpful webpage that outlines state assistance for businesses, workers and residents. Access it here.

Civil Unrest Impact and SBA Loans

From Illinois DCEO: The civil unrest and events of recent days have placed enormous stress and grief on all of our communities across the country and in Illinois – with many of our businesses facing extensive damage where looting may have occurred. This arrives as our state faces the unprecedented challenges brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  To help businesses who are facing these damages, DCEO is working with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) who can provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits that have been severely impacted by civil unrest in counties who have received a disaster declaration through SBA.

To obtain these special business loans for businesses in our communities, SBA must first issue a disaster declaration. For counties to qualify, businesses must first document their damages from the protests and looting and share this information with SBA. To streamline this process, DCEO has created a form to assist businesses with reporting. This information will then be used to submit for a disaster declaration from SBA for impacted counties.Please note: The form is not an application for funding and information obtained will not be used for or against businesses should they decide to later submit an application for a loan through SBA. If your business was impacted by civil unrest in the past few weeks, please complete this form.

DCEO Emergency Relief Webinar for African American Businesses

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Regional Economic Development Team, Office of Minority Economic Empowerment, and Small Business Association will be hosting technical assistance webinars specifically for African American Businesses and Workers on May 8 at 2 pm.

UPDATE: Save Small Business Fund Application Window Closes After One Day

The US Chamber of Commerce Save Small Business Fund began accepting applications yesterday but received more than 15,000 applications in the first few hours, causing technical difficulties with their system.  While they will begin awarding grants this week based on existing donations, they are no longer able to accept applications. Those who did submit an application will be notified if it results in a grant. For more information on the US Chamber’s collection of resources for managing in this crisis go here.

Save Small Business Fund

The U.S. Chamber Foundation is launching their Save Small Business Fund. Funded by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners, the U.S. Chamber Foundation will be providing $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers (between 3-20 employees) in economically vulnerable communities. A zip-code lookup on their website will tell you if a business is considered to be located in a “vulnerable community.” Applications for the Save Small Business Grant Fund will open this Monday, April 20, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. ET.  Interested individuals can sign up for an email alert to be notified of the window opening. The effort is part of the U.S. Chamber’s larger Save Small Business Initiative.

Small Business Debt Relief Program

This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with pre-existing, non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, the SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the President signing the bill into law.

  • Helpful Q&A about the Debt Relief Program from the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.
  • Contact your local SBA 7(a) lending institution to take advantage of this program. 
Employee Retention Credit

The Employee Retention Credit (Tax Credit) is available to ALL Businesses to ease the burden of keeping staff on payroll.  However, companies can not receive this benefit and the PPP.  Participation in one will exclude companies from the other benefit.  

This benefit is for employers facing closure due to COVID – 19 and is primarily targeted to companies with more than 500 employees.  It provides a refundable 50% tax credit for the employer’s share of payroll taxes up to $10K per employee.  There will be special rules for small employers. Payroll taxes will be deferred and spread over 2 years. The refundable payroll tax credit is for businesses that either fully or partially shut down OR have a 50% decrease in receipts versus the same quarter in the previous year and continue to pay employees.  Credit amounts will be based on qualified wages paid to employees during the crisis and tied to number of employees (100+ full time employees = wages paid when they are not providing services due to COVID-19 and less than 100 full time employees = wages paid regardless of business closure status). The benefits can be used for the period between 3/13/20- 12/31/20.  Net operating losses (NOLs) modification: NOLs arising in FY’s ‘18, ‘19, and ‘20 can be carried back 5 years. AMT credits available as refundable credits through 2021 can be claimed as a refund now. Allowable deductible interest expenses are increased from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020 (IEDC).

UPDATE:
From HRDIVE: According to a guidance document updated May 7 by the IRS, employers that qualify for the CARES Act’s employee retention credit may treat health plan expenses paid to furloughed employees as qualified wages for purposes of the retention credit.  Any such health plan expenses must be paid or incurred after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, and they are subject to a maximum of $10,000 per employee for all calendar quarters for all qualified wages.  More here.

Childcare Restoration Grants

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is working with the Illinois Department of Human Services and Governor’s Office in developing a grant program for struggling child care providers, which represents at least $270 million for child care providers and will be administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA). “We know our state’s recovery relies on the economic survival of our regulated child care system,” according to a message from these entities. Child care providers can find application information posted here next week, July 20-24; they can learn more through technical assistance webinars next Monday (in English) and Tuesday (Spanish). For webinar registration info and further details, click here.

Landmarks Illinois Grant for Nonprofits

Landmarks Illinois has created a new, temporary grant fund to provide monetary assistance to non profit organizations that have been financially impacted by the pandemic.  Grants of $2,000 will be available to nonprofit organizations with an annual revenue of less than $1 million or fewer than 7 employees. More information here.

LISC Small Business Relief Grant Application Window Open

The second round of applications are now being accepted for LISC’s Small Business Grant program.  The program will award $5000, $7500 or $10,000 to for-profit businesses.  According to their website, “priority will be given especially to entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically under-served places who don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital.” Applications are being accepted until Tuesday, April 29 at 11:59PM EST. More information and application here.

Illinois Humanities Grants for Humanities-Oriented Organizations

Illinois Humanities is accepting applications through Friday, May 15 for general operations grants to Illinois nonprofit organizations with annual budgets less than $1.5 million whose work consists largely of “public humanities.”  By this term they are referring to cultural organizations, museums, historical societies, etc.  More information and application forms here. An organization is eligible to receive a grant of $2,500, $5,000, or $7,500, depending upon the size of its annual budget. A proportional pool of money is available for organizations outside of the Chicago area.

Philanthropy Roundtable Resource Page

The Philanthropy Roundtable created a resource page that provides information about private foundations that are making funds available for various aspects of the COVID-19 response. Click here for more information.

University of Chicago Survey on Business Impact (and a chance to win $500)

The University of Chicago is reaching out to business owners to take a short and confidential survey about how small businesses have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The feedback can help improve the types of assistance that city and state government agencies provide to help businesses survive and recover from this crisis. Respondents will be entered into a lottery for the chance to win one of ten $500 prizes. Take the 10-minute survey by clicking here.

Emergency Grants for Hispanic Business Owners

Hello Alice has designated a portion of its $10,000 emergency grants exclusively for Hispanic business owners. Funding is being distributed immediately to founders impacted by the coronavirus as part of our broader mission to ensure Business for All. All applicants will receive access to resources and ongoing support from the Hello Alice community. Application support is offered in Spanish. More information here.

Ameren Energy Efficiency

Ameren Illinois announced several new energy efficiency offerings to help small businesses and nonprofits to reduce their energy usage and save money. Eligible customers can receive a free lighting assessment, free smart thermostat, and a free energy analysis tool. More information here.

COVID-19 Reimbursements Available for Local Government, Nonprofits and Houses of Worship

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is working with county emergency managers throughout the state to ensure local governments impacted by COVID-19 have all documents and paperwork necessary to qualify for federal public assistance funding. In addition to local governments, the disaster declaration also provides reimbursement availability for qualifying private non-profit organizations and houses of worship. More information here.

Ameren Illinois Offers Hardship Grants to Small Businesses and Non-profit Organizations

Ameren Illinois announced that funding is available for small businesses and nonprofits that have fallen behind on their electric bills. Under the company’s COVID-19 Economic Hardship Recovery Program, one-time grants of up to $500 will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until June 30, or until the funds are exhausted.  To be considered, businesses must have an active, non-residential account, 50 or fewer full-time employees, and a principal office in Illinois. More information here.

Help Illinois Families Initiative Launched

The state of Illinois has launched a new initiative to help Illinois families access and afford home energy assistance and other essential services during COVID-19. Building on the State’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program, the State’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget authorizes an expansion of the LIHEAP and CSBG programs for eligible Illinoisans seeking emergency assistance to cover costs of utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities.  Effective immediately, the Help Illinois Families initiative is implementing an online pre-application form to make it easier and faster for individuals and families to start the application process remotely and to determine eligibility for LIHEAP and/or CSBG services. Increased eligibility thresholds for FY21 aims to assist additional households needing support due to challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.  More here.

Assistance for Childcare Providers

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced $270 million in funding is available to assist child care providers across the state with reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Licensed child care providers that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for Child Care Restoration Grants, reserved as part of the $636 Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program.  The application will remain open until August 14, 2020 and is available online at: https://www.inccrra.org/.

Businesses eligible for the Child Care Restoration Grants (CCRG) Program must demonstrate the following:

  1. A current license from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to care for children,
  2. They are open and caring for children at the time of application,
  3. Based on licensed capacity, can demonstrate a ‘business interruption’ from their pre-COVID capacity, and
  4. Submit a complete application with all required documents.

Reopening Illinois

Gov. Pritzker Outlines More Focussed Regions to Measure Coronavirus Progression or Regression

Governor JB Pritzker announced changes to Illinois’ regional approach in order to better target increasing positivity rates and hospitalizations in addition to new tracking metrics and mitigation plans. The Governor’s initial plan created four regions across the state tracking key metrics. The new plan utilizes the current 11 emergency Medical Services Regions.  Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties are in the North-Central Region that includes the following counties: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford.  Mason and Logan counties are in West-Central with these counties: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott.

The following metrics will be used to determine when additional mitigation will be required to help alleviate the spread of the virus:

  • Sustained increase in the 7-day rolling average (7 out of 10 days) in the positivity rate and one of the following severity indicators:
  • Sustained 7-day increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities (ICU capacity or medical/surgical beds < 20 percent
  • OR three consecutive days averaging equal to or greater than an 8 percent positivity rate

If a region exceeds these resurgence metrics, there are three tiers of mitigation that can be implemented.  These mitigation plans include:

  • Tier 1: Reduced indoor dining capacity and suspended indoor bar service; reduced elective surgeries and limited hospital visitation, limits on gathering size, temporary shutdown of salons and personal care.
  • Tier 2: Suspend indoor dining and bar service; suspend elective surgeries and procedures, implement surge capacity; greater limits on gatherings and capacity; suspend indoor recreational activity; suspend in-person non-essential retail; online and curbside available; temporary local shutdown of salons and personal care with broader mitigation.
  • Tier 3: Suspend in-person dining and allow takeout only; open alternative care facilities; strictest limit on gatherings and capacity; remote work for all non-essential workers; suspend organized indoor and outdoor recreational activities; suspend all non-essential retail; suspend salon and personal care operations.
Illinois Phase IV Guidelines Released

The state released guidelines for business operations in Phase IV which is slated to begin on Friday, June 26. Comprehensive information here including and industry-by-industry summary here.

Summary of the new guidelines from the press release: Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan creates safety guidelines for the following permitted activities and businesses to resume, with capacity rules in place:

  • Meetings and events: Venues and meeting spaces can resume with the lesser of up to 50 people OR 50% of overall room capacity. Multiple groups are permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups. This includes activities such as conferences and weddings.
  • Indoor and Outdoor recreation: Revised guidelines to allow select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks), as well as clubhouses to reopen. Indoor recreation to operate at the lesser of 50 customers OR 50% of facility capacity with outdoor recreation allowing group sizes of up to 50, and permitting multiple groups given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Indoor Dining: Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25% of capacity.
  • Museums: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits and rides closed; guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group; museums should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Zoos: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits, indoor exhibits, and rides closed; guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group; zoos should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Cinema and Theatre: Indoor seated theaters, cinemas, and performing arts centers to allow admission of the lesser of up to 50 guests OR 50% of overall theater or performance space capacity (applies to each screening room); outdoor capacity limited to 20% of overall theater or performance space capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Outdoor seated spectator events: Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% of seating capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Film production: Allow no more than 50% of sound stage or filming location capacity; crowd scenes should be limited to 50 people or fewer.

Industries with revised guidelines in Phase 4:

  • Youth and Recreational Sports: Revised guidelines allow competitive gameplay and tournaments; youth and recreational sports venues can operate at 50% of facility capacity, 20% seating capacity for spectators, and group sizes up to 50 with multiple groups permitted during practice and competitive games given venues have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Health and fitness centers: Revised guidelines allow gyms to open at 50% capacity and allow group fitness classes of up to 50 people with new safety guidelines for indoors, with multiple groups permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups.
  • Day camps: Water-based activities permitted in accordance with IDPH guidelines; no more than 50% of facility capacity with group size of no more than 15 participants in a group, unless participants change weekly.
Phase 3 Guidelines Released

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) released a set of guidelines for businesses able to reopen in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan.  The entire set of guidelines can be found here.  The website includes a toolkit for all businesses that includes letters, posters, signage and social media materials.

The website also includes individual guidelines and toolkits for specific industries that are allowed to reopen or further reopen in Phase 3, which is presumed to begin on Friday, May 29.

Frequently Asked Questions on Phase 3 Guidelines

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has posted an FAQ to help answer questions regarding business reopening guidelines here.

CDC Reopening Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control have released some guidance on reopening different types of businesses.  This is just guidance and will not supersede any regulations established by the state of Illinois for Phase 3 of Restore Illinois plan, but do represent best practices that are likely to be reflected in the state’s plans.  Read the guidance here.

Outdoor Dining Permitted in Phase 3

Governor Pritzker announced that he is altering the Restore Illinois plan to allow for more businesses and activities to open during Phase 3 of the plan.  Bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers in outdoor dining areas provided certain guidelines are met.

Phase 3 Starts May 29

At his press conference on May 28 Governor Pritzker stated that metrics in all four regions of the state were in positive territory and that all the entire state can move into Phase 3 of Restore Illinois on Friday, May 29.  This includes retail, personal care like barbers and stylists, limited sports and outdoor dining.  All Phase 3 guidance can be found here.  GPEDC has placed its cache of reopening guides and checklists created by a variety of industry associations like the Illinois Manufacturers Association, National Retailers Federation and National Restaurant Association here.

Heart of Illinois Reopening Plan

Officials released details of the Heart of Illinois Reopening Plan.  The plan covers 11 counties centered around Peoria’s medical system and sets out a path towards reopening the economy while ensuring proper monitoring and control of coronavirus.  Read the plan here.  A summary slide deck that was used at the press conference can be found here.

Governor Pritzker Outlines “Restore Illinois” Plan to Reopen Economy

At his daily press conference, Governor Pritzker outlined a five phase plan to reopening the economy based on the state’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions (map here).  Peoria, Woodford and Tazewell counties are in Region 2; Mason and Logan counties are in Region 3.  Within the five phases, Illinois is currently at Phase 2.  Movement to Phase 3, which can happen region to region, can occur if certain health metrics and hospital utilization rates are met. Phase 3 will allow reopening of some sectors of the economy, including retail and personal services (i.e. hairstylists and barbers). Phase 4 would allow for dine-in services at restaurants and services like gyms to resume.  Gov. Pritzker indicated in his press conference that the earliest any region could move to Phase 3 was May 29.  The full plan available here.

Restore Heart of Illinois Website Launches With Guidance For Businesses and Residents

The Restore HOI website has been developed to provide residents and businesses with guidelines and best practices for each phase of the Restore Illinois plan, as well as a voluntary self-certification process for businesses to certify as COVID-19 compliant. Business owners who are reopening under the Restore Illinois plan can find guidelines from local public health officials to protect their customers’ health and safety and self-certify their business as COVID-19 compliant. Residents can find a list of businesses who have publicly committed to following the latest public health guidelines and are dedicated to keeping their customers safe while reopening our region. The website also has a “contact us” feature, allowing businesses, faith based organizations, and others an opportunity to ask questions regarding the reopening plan. Restore HOI is a regional effort with guidance developed by state and local health officials with the goal of promoting a safe and healthy reopening of the region. The website was developed for free by AdCo. Visit the website here.

DCEO Toolkits and Guidelines

DCEO has also released updated guidance on tennisfishing and boating, and golf.

Industry Guides and Checklists

Local Outdoor Dining Regulations for Phase 3

A variety of local municipalities have crafted ordinances and processes to allow and expand outdoor dining under Phase 3 starting May 29.  Follow the links to find the guidance for each community (Village of Morton approving its ordinances tonight): City of Peoria, City of East Peoria, City of Washington, City of Pekin, City of Chillicothe, and Village of Peoria Heights.

Local Resources

Village of Peoria Heights Business Grants Now Accepted

The Village of Peoria Heights announced the availability of $330,000 for two business assistance grant programs. The “Peoria Heights Business Development District Commercial Lease Grant Program” and the “Peoria Heights COVID-19 Emergency Mortgage Subsidy Grant Program” will each offer applicants up to $1,500 toward lease or mortgage payments. Grant funds are being awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 that were operating on March 16, 2020 within one of the Village’s two Business Development Districts are eligible to apply.  More information and a simple application form can be found here.

Trio of City of Peoria Assistance Programs Launching

The City of Peoria is launching several programs to provide assistance for COVID-19-related expenses. The programs will provide assistance to public service agencies (launched June 12), small businesses (launching June 22), and households (launching July 6). Information on all programs can be found here but a summary is below:

  • Small Businesses: Over $1 million is dedicated to provide assistance for specific fixed operating expenses such as rent, mortgage, utility payments, internet service, garbage service, insurance and other fixed debt service for small businesses. The application period begins at 8am on June 22 and ends at 3pm on July 2. The maximum award is $15,000 for small restaurant businesses with 6-50 employees. All other eligible businesses are eligible for up to $7,500. A lottery will take place on July 7 to select the order in which businesses receive funding. A list of the lottery order will be available at appreciatepeoria.com. Two training sessions will be held on June 22, at 10am and at 7pm—the link to the GoToMeeting can be found here.
  • Public Service Agencies: A total of $300,000 is dedicated to fund public services offered by nonprofits, 501(c)3 organizations and government agencies who serve Peoria residents in low-income households. The funding must be used to prevent, prepare for or respond to COVID-19, with a minimum funding request of $10,000 and the maximum funding request of $60,000. The application period began at 8am on June 12 and ends at 3pm on June 26. Agencies will be notified of the funding decision on Wednesday, July 29.
  • Households: A total of $300,000 is dedicated to provide up to three months of mortgage or rental assistance up to $5,000 per household. This program will offer assistance to residents who are delinquent on their rent, mortgage or utility payments. The application period begins at 8 am on July 6 and ends at 3 pm on July 17. A lottery will be held at 10 am on Tuesday, July 21. Applicants must be at or below 80% of the median area income by household size. Online training will be posted on July 6 to guide applicants through the entry. For questions, email grants@peoriagov.org.
PROGRAM CLOSED- Community Foundation of Central Illinois Accepting Grant Applications

The Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) announces the first grant cycle for the Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund will begin accepting applications on April 22, 2020. The Fund will provide flexible financial support to nonprofit partners within the CFCI service area (a 50-mile radius of the city of Peoria, IL excluding Knox and McLean Counties), who are responding to increasing needs as a result of COVID-19. For the first cycle, applications are due Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Organizations may apply for up to $5,000.

UPDATE: The first round of this program is now closed. The Community Foundation of Central Illinois announced that $112,000 in grants were awarded to 23 different organizations from the Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund.  A complete list of awards can be found here.  The Recovery Fund was built on major donations by Caterpillar Foundation and Homefield Energy, plus dozens of private donations from individuals. Grants for a second round of funding will be announced within the next few weeks.  For information on how to donate to the Recovery Fund, click here.

Poster Requirement

Section 1.5 of the Executive Order states: “All businesses that have employees physically reporting to a work-site must 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 guidance will be posted on the IDPH webpage.” The poster can be found here.

State Guidance Regarding Face-Coverings

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has released guidance regarding the application of the face-covering requirement in the Governor’s extended stay-at-home order for businesses and other places of public accommodation subject to Article 5 of the Illinois Human Rights Act.  Read the guidance here.

City of Peoria Economic Development COVID Resource Calls

The City is hosting weekly calls to communicate upcoming COVID-19 related financial and other resources on Thursdays from 1-1:40 on Zoom.  For more information send an email to economicdevelopment@peoriagov.org to request an invitation code to attend.  The next call will be Thursday April 23, 2020. The topic will be Community Development Block Grant Funding.

City of Peoria Restaurant Survey

The City of Peoria has created a survey to capture what consumers are seeking once dine-in services are allowed to resume. They are hoping to get 1,000 responses by the end of this week.  Take the survey here.

East Peoria Phase 1 Rules

The City of East Peoria has outlined rules for businesses that can open within their city limits here.

Salvation Army

As of April 6, the Salvation Army in Peoria has reopened its child care facility in order to serve as a resource for parents who are first responders, health care workers and other essential employees.  More information about their child care services here and general information about the Salvation Army response to COVID-19 here.

Kim Group’s Share the Love Program

The Kim Group, in concert with March 2 Ventures, CORE Construction, Montefusco HVAC, JustKidz Dentistry and other anonymous donors, has created the “Share the LOVE” Program to offer some of its client’s products and services to frontline workers, small business owners, and single parents for free. Interested individuals need to apply and select which products they need.  Application form here or you can learn more here.

Free HR Webinar hosted by Turner School for Entrepreneurship

The Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, at Bradley University, has partnered with local attorneys from Miller, Hall and Triggs LLC to provide answers to companies’ questions regarding HR and employment law during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 from 12 -1 p.m.  To ensure the webinar is of value, participants are asked to pose questions in advance by completing this form.

Peoria Area Face Cover Program

Enjoy Peoria has partnered with Proforma to create face masks that show our pride in the heart of Illinois and the Peoria Area while staying safe and healthy. A portion of the proceeds will be donated back to Enjoy Peoria to continue supporting the communities they serve. Find more information and order masks here.

Ameren Assistance for Customers

Ameren Illinois has suspended service disconnections and will be forgiving late fees, for non-payment, through July 1st. In addition, Ameren Illinois has other resources available to help Ameren customers needing assistance with paying their bill:

Business Guidance

IDES Issues Callback Strategy

From IMA: The Illinois Department of Employment Security released a statement declaring that effective July 9, 2020, the Department will implement a “callback only model” as a temporary solution to effectively honor the order in which callers attempt to reach the call center for unemployment insurance assistance. This new model will be in effect for the following call centers: Claimant Services Center (800.244.5631), IllinoisJobLink.com (877.342.7533), Benefit Payment Control (800.814.0513) and Employer Hotline (800.247.4984). What this means is that rather than wait on hold or call multiple times, individuals seeking assistance will receive a call when they are next in line without losing their place.

Illinois Unemployment Insurance Benefit Form Information

Due to the volume of unemployment insurance claims resulting from the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Security will be unable to mail employers the quarterly Statement of Benefit Charges (for taxable employers) and Statements of Amount Due for Benefit Charges (for reimbursable employers). These are known as BEN-118 and BEN 118-R forms.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security will be sending out two notices to employers on July 22 and August 10 asking them to sign up for a MyTax.Illinois.Gov account so that they can view statements from the Second Quarter 2020. Please be aware that the first notice is incorrect in that it states that an employer may only get the statements electronically. The second notice mailed on August 10 will provide instructions for receiving a paper copy of the statements through the mail.  Employers may access these forms on their MyTaxIllinois accounts or they can request a paper copy of the form. Employers will be able to view the statements, along with instructions and a protest form, on their account starting on August 14, 2020. Here is a copy of the IDES notice and a letter from IDES.

Illinois Unemployment Fact Sheet

Illinois Department of Employment Security has published a summary of expanded unemployment benefits.

IDES Improving Unemployment Filing System

The Illinois unemployment filing system has been inundated with claims over the past few weeks. To address this, IDES is making a variety of improvements. In addition, IDES has staggered days and times for people to file on-line or via the help desk line.

Career Link Resources Available

Career Link has created a slide deck that outlines the program funding available to businesses to help avoid layoffs. Eligible uses of funds include purchasing computers and software to allow employees to work remotely and cleaning/sanitation services that will allow a company to continue operations. For more information, contact Norm Griffin at ngriffin@careerlink16.com.

Workforce Recovery Initiative

The State of Illinois has launched a free online career training geared toward helping Illinoisans who have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a partnership with online learning platform Coursera, Illinois residents have the opportunity to enroll in free virtual training courses to provide training and credentialing that will help ready dislocated workers for jobs in Information Technology and other marketable fields. Registration for the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative will be made available to Illinois residents from now through September, and all courses must be completed by December 31, 2020. Upon completion of the program, participants may earn an industry-recognized credential as well as information about continuing building upon their new skilled through continued education at their local community college.

Workers’ Compensation & Unemployment Changes Signed into Law

Gov. Pritzker signed legislation regarding changes to the workers’ compensation regarding COVID-19 claims as Public Act 101-633.  From a summary created by the Illinois Manufacturers Association, the law and legislative intent includes the following provisions:

  1. All essential workers can receive the rebuttable presumption.
  2. Employers can use the lowest standard (ordinary presumption) to rebut the rebuttable presumption. An employer simply has to show that they were following CDC or IDPH guidance and practices.
  3. The employer’s experience modification will not change due to COVID.
  4. A home or residence is not the workplace.
  5. The presumption ends December 31, 2020.
  6. Employers receive a TTD offset for employees that were on paid leave or extended FMLA.
  7. The employee has to have been exposed and contracted the virus. Simple exposure does not qualify.
  8. Before June 15, an employee has to have a positive diagnosis or medical test; on or after June 16, a positive test is required.
Information for Job Seekers and Companies Hiring

Job seekers can subscribe to receive job postings by registering their email at www.careerlink16.com. Jobs are also posted on IDES’ JobLink job board. All unemployment benefit recipients must register and use Illinois JobLink as part of their job search. Employers can also search resumes and post jobs on Illinois JobLink.

Get Hired Illinois

Gov. Pritzker announced a joint IDES and DCEO program to connect Illinois residents with jobs. This new online portal, entitled Get Hired Illinois, serves as a hub for jobs, job fairs and skills training. Employers looking for employees can also use this program to find Illinois residents looking for work. This portal can be accessed at Illinois.gov/gethired.

News on Unemployment Insurance Rates

From Bradley’s SBDC: IDES is hopeful legislation passed by the Illinois house and senate will soon become law. The key point is that any Illinois unemployment benefits paid against your employees due to COVID-19, will not be included in calculating the Annual Employer Contribution Tax Rate. There is also good news for non-profit (what IDES calls “reimbursable employers”) in that the amount they have to pay back will be reduced by 50%. More information forthcoming as it becomes available.

Unemployment Insurance

The same Public Law as above clarified some issues surrounding unemployment.  Again from an IMA summary, P.A. 101-633 includes the following important provision for business: “Employers will not be charged [by increases to their unemployment insurance] for layoffs between March 15, 2020, and December 31, 2020. These costs will be socialized in the system.”

US Department of Labor Guidance on Emergency Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA

The US Department of Labor today made available a set of resources regarding two important provisions of the Families First Act: the emergency sick leave provision and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Both pieces of legislation impact businesses with 500 or fewer employees. Resources include a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers.

Mandatory Employer Posting

The US Department of Labor mandates that employers post “in a conspicuous place” information regarding the elements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The mandatory poster can be found here. USDOL as has published a Q&A about the poster here. Of note regarding companies who have a considerable number of teleworkers at the moment, USDOL advises that the requirement may be satisfied by emailing, direct mailing, and/or posting on external or internal websites.

Tool to Determine Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor launched an interactive online tool to help workers determine if they qualify for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to cover time away from work for reasons related to the coronavirus. The tool guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act apply to their employer. If the provisions do apply, the tool helps them learn whether they qualify for either paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under that law.The US Department of Labor mandates that employers post “in a conspicuous place” information regarding the elements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The mandatory poster can be found here. USDOL as has published a Q&A about the poster here. Of note regarding companies who have a considerable number of teleworkers at the moment, USDOL advises that the requirement may be satisfied by emailing, direct mailing, and/or posting on external or internal websites.

Families First Act

President Trump signed the Families First Act, a second bill aimed at aiding economic hardship for business and employees. The main thrusts of the bill are to (1) expand the Family and Medical Leave Act and (2) create the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. National HR consulting firm Greensfelder has a summary of the Act here. The St. Louis law firm Ogletree Deakins has put together a matrix summary here.

Additional Guidance on Families First Act

The Department of Labor issued new guidance addressing exemptions under the paid leave laws. Joshua Herman of Miller, Hall & Triggs provides an excellent summary of exemptions now available for businesses under 50 employees and others here.

Update on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The United States Department of Labor has now issued its fourth set of Questions & Answers to help employers navigate the complexities of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Click below to read through the list of most commonly asked questions because there are some significant interpretations.

Changes to Illinois Estimated Tax Payment Requirements – DEADLINE PASSED

Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the subsequent Emergency Declaration of Disaster by Governor JB Pritzker, the filing and payment deadline for income tax returns due April 15, 2020, was extended to July 15, 2020. As a result, a significant number of taxpayers will not be able to accurately calculate and pay their 2020 Illinois estimated income tax. Since taxpayers may not know their prior year’s tax liability if they do not file by the original due date, the Department is providing for an additional option upon which taxpayers can base their 2020 estimated tax payments.

IRS Information on Refundable Tax Credits

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19. 

IRS Extends Tax Filing Deadline to July 15, 2020 – PASSED

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced on March 21 that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

OSHA Releases Guidance on Reopening Non-essential Businesses

From IMA: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and provides general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Workplace Safety

OSHA has compiled resources and guidance regarding COVID-19 and workplace safety here.

OSHA Guidelines on COVID-19 Incidents

From the Illinois Manufacturers Association: The U.S. Department of Labor announced that businesses will not have to consider confirmed cases of COVID-19 as recordable incidents for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) record keeping purposes unless the case (1) Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness; (2) Is determined to be work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and (3) Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.  OSHA also noted that determining whether a worker contracted COVID-19 while performing work duties is difficult given ongoing community spread, and in light of those difficulties, OSHA is exercising its enforcement discretion in order to provide certainty to the regulated community. You can find the OSHA enforcement memo here.

OSHA Relief on Certain Requirements

OSHA announced that due to the coronavirus health emergency it may be difficult to meet certain standards. As a result, employers will be granted relief if they are unable to fulfill annual testing, inspection, training and auditing due to coronavirus if the employer makes a good faith effort to stay in compliance.

CDC Reopening Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfecting

The Centers for Disease Control have published guidance on how to effectively keep clean public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools and homes. Read the guidance and download the CDC toolkit here.

Illinois Manufacturing Helpline

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, headquartered at Bradley University, has established a virtual helpline for manufacturing businesses here.

Illinois Manufacturers Association FAQ

IMA has put together an FAQ on COVID related business issues that is being constantly updated. You can find it here. While geared towards manufacturing, it is relevant for all types of business operations.

Temporary Restraining Order over Workers Compensation Rule

From Illinois Manufacturers Association: Sangamon County Judge John M. Madonia issued a temporary restraining order following a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association earlier this week seeking to block emergency amendments filed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that create a presumption that the workplace is the cause of COVID-19 cases.

ResourceMFG

During the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing changes they remain available to help the unemployed.

  • Apply online @ apply.resourcemfg.com
  • Download the Mobile App
  • Check online daily for updates on available jobs
  • Call or text to schedule over the phone interviews – Resource MFG Workforce Specialist 309-682-6511
New State Safety Regulations for Manufacturers

Within the Executive Order are new safety requirements for the manufacturing sector.  These include:

  • Providing face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six feet of social distancing at all times
  • Staggering shifts
  • Reducing line speeds
  • Operating only essential lines while shutting down non-essential lines
  • Ensuring that all spaces where employees may gather, including locker rooms and lunchrooms, allow for social distancing; and
  • Downsizing operations to the extent necessary to allow for social distancing and to provide a safe workspace in response to the COVID-19 emergency
City of Peoria Restaurant Survey

The City of Peoria is reaching out to Restaurant/Bar Owners and Managers to ask about concerns now that dine in service is returning. They have developed a brief survey to express concerns about reopening. Access the survey here.

Update on” Cocktails to Go Legislation”

From the City of Peoria: The bill adopted by Illinois Generally Assembly that allows restaurants and bars to sell “cocktails to go” via delivery or carry out has now been signed into law and became effective immediately. A copy of the legislation is available here. There are a number of restrictions on the carry out and delivery of cocktails. Here are a few you should be aware of:

  • Required that tamper-evidence and sealed containers must be used
  • Cocktails must be placed in the trunk or rear area of vehicle for transport
  • The container must be labeled as required by law, and
  • cocktails can only be delivered by an employee of the establishment, and not a third-party service
  • This law is temporary in nature, and expires one year from the effective date.
  • The Illinois Liquor Control Commission most recent guidance is available here. Expect further guidance on this issue soon.
Save the Table

Save the Table is an effort by a local digital marketing company to support local restaurants by allowing them to list the restaurant and it’s menu so customers can find and order online.  More https://savethetable.org/

Federal Help for Restaurants Proposed

According to the Washington Post, two bi-partisan federal bills will assist restaurants if passed.  The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act would extend the period in which small businesses can use the money and ease restrictions on the amount they can spend on non-payroll expenses such as rent.  While such flexibility would extend to any PPP recipient the hospitality industry has been particularly hamstrung by the current 8 week period.  The RESTAURANT Act would create a $120 billion grant program to help an estimated 500,000 independent restaurants (less than 20 locations) survive a potentially long period when they may earn only a fraction of their former revenue. More here.

DEADLINE PASSED – Scaling UP Illinois Restaurant Operations: Exploring Options

University of Illinois Extension is hosting two webinars to address management issues and plan for ways to make the restaurant reopening safe. This webinar series will be offered in two parts, Financial Considerations on May 28 and Opening Safely on June 4.

  • Part 1: Financial Considerations – May 28, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.  Register here.
    Join a discussion to explore the processes and considerations that restaurants must address as they develop plans to open and get back to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods and reboot our state’s economy. Broadline food distributors will give their views on anticipated supply costs and strategies to buffer unanticipated increased costs. Reopening will require a careful analysis of alternative food service models which may include food subscription, take-out menu expansion, grocery market kits, online ordering, and delivery/pickup. Each option requires a break-even analysis specific to your business. Chef Dustin Allen of Edge in Peoria Heights is a guest presenter.
  • Part 2: Opening Safely – June 4,  2020 at 10:00 a.m. Register here.
    This webinar features compliance resources and disinfectant practices which allow for a safe physical environment for patrons and staff. Strategies for instilling consumer confidence will be offered, as well as approaches for enhancing the customer experience while adhering to new operational guidelines. Tristan Popadziuk, owner and roastmaster for [CxT] Roasting Company in Peoria, will provide advice as an operator.
Sales Tax Deferral for Bars and Restaurants

Gov. Pritzker has directed the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) to defer sales tax payments for 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. The Department of Revenue estimates this will give relief to nearly 80% of bars and restaurants in Illinois. 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. 

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program

The United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation has launched a program to assist bartenders, bar-backs, cocktail servers and other similar workers who are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID crisis (i.e. unpaid medical bills, eviction notice, etc.). Assistance is not available for businesses, just individuals.

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

The National Restaurant Association, thanks in part to a donation from Guy Fieri, has created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Laid off restaurant employees who have worked at least 90 days part- or full-time in a restaurant in the past year can apply for a one time $500 payment. Applications open starting April 2.

Guidance for Closed Food Service Operations

The Illinois Department of Public Health has provided guidance for re-opening bars and restaurants that have been closed during the state ban here.

Illinois Liquor Control Commission Reminder on Restaurant Pre-Mixed Drinks

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission has received inquiries from bars and restaurants seeking authority to sell pre-mixed drinks/cocktails “to-go” and for “delivery” in the non-original packaging. The Commission has not authorized the sale of premixed cocktails in non-original containers for off-premises consumption.

Illinois Restaurant Association Resources Page

The Illinois Restaurant Association has compiled a comprehensive list of resources available to the restaurant industry including state and federal guidance, archived webinars, and business operations resources.  Near the bottom of the page is a list of links to various relief funds for restaurants and their employees.

ShelfLove Open For Business

A few weeks ago we told you about ShelfLove, a startup on-line retail platform developed by Pekin native and Eureka College grad Anna Palmer. ShelfLove gives small, independent retailers to sell their products on-line to a national market without creating their own online presence. After getting retailers to sign up and list their products, the site is now live for shoppers.  Click here to see Central Illinois businesses who have products listed.  The list includes So Chic Boutique (Peoria, Morton); The Runaway Rack (Metamora); One Fit Stop; Small Town Girls Boutique (Lacon); Peoria Riverfront Museum Gift Shop (Peoria); Succulent Natural Skincare (Tivoli); and Tick Tick Fizz (Washington).  Retailers interested in learning more and signing up should visit click here.

Unemployment Benefits Now Available for the Self-Employed

From Bradley’s SBDC: IDES has opened applications for unemployment benefits for self-employed individuals and contractors. Typically, these are individuals who report their income to the IRS on a Schedule C or K1 with the net income carried over to their 1040 tax return but under normal circumstances do not qualify for unemployment benefits. IDES has updated its FAQ here.

Here are some key steps to take:

  • Start here.
  • You have to first file for regular unemployment benefits using the link “File for Regular Unemployment Benefits” option on the above website.
  • Once that application is processed, it will be likely denied. (Reasons why a self-employed may not be denied would be if IDES determines the person was actually not self-employed, but worked for a company that should have paid them as a W2 employee.)
  • Once you have been denied for regular benefits, return to the above site and select “File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).”
  • Not only will you receive Illinois unemployment benefits, but the $600 / week federal benefit will also apply for anyone receiving at least $1 in benefits for a week. The benefits may be retroactive to the week of March 29, 2020.
  • If you received PPP funds, you will likely not be eligible for PUA during the weeks you are paid using PPP funds.

Some additional tips to be prepared for filing:

  • Be sure you have filed your 2019 taxes even if you will be waiting to pay any income taxes due by July 15, 2020.
  • For your PUA benefits, IDES will accept this documentation: Form 1040, Schedule C; Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ; Form 1040-SR, Schedule C; Form 1040-SR, Schedule C-EZ; Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)
  • If you lack any of the above, IDES will consider other documentation on a case by case basis.
  • If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, go ahead and apply, but you’ll need to upload the 2019 tax documentation within 21 days.
Updated Guidance for Self-Employed (“1099 Workers”) Filing for Unemployment Benefits

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) released new instructions for 1099 workers who have lost work due to COVID-19. Workers who believe they may be eligible for new federal benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, must first apply for regular unemployment insurance before applying for benefits under PUA when a new application portal opens on May 11, 2020 via the IDES website. If claimants receive an eligibility determination of $0, they can then appeal that decision by providing verification of wages earned, or they can submit a claim for PUA benefits. Claimants who have already applied for and been denied regular unemployment benefits can submit a claim through the new PUA portal when it opens. Receiving a denial for regular unemployment benefits is a mandatory first step in determining eligibility for PUA.  More here.

Guidance for Self-Employed (“1099 Workers”) Filing for Unemployment

Updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicates that individuals should proceed with applying for benefits now even if they are a 1099 contractor or a sole proprietor (not May 11 as previously advised). The initial claim will likely be denied, however it should put the applicant in the application process for those 1099 and sole proprietors that will receive benefits under the Cares Act. Those benefits include the $600/week, known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Details at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides. The benefit to applying and then getting denied is that it proves individuals cannot get regular unemployment benefits and therefore are that much readier for the new application around May 11.  According to IDES, when awarded unemployment compensation will be back-dated until the date a person was first unemployed.

PPP Webinar for the Self-Employed

While much attention has been paid to small businesses applying for PPP, sole proprietors, the self-employed and independent contractors can also qualify for the program.  SBA recorded a webinar specifically targeting this population. Access the recording here.

Unemployment Benefits for the Self-Employed

Monday, May 11 was the first day the “unemployed self-employed” could file for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.  According to IDES, workers who believe they may be eligible for new federal benefits, must first apply for regular unemployment insurance before applying for benefits under PUA. If claimants receive an eligibility determination of $0, they can then appeal that decision by providing verification of wages earned, or they can submit a claim for PUA benefits. Claimants who have already applied for and been denied regular unemployment benefits can submit a claim through the new PUA portal when it opens. Receiving a denial for regular unemployment benefits is a mandatory first step in determining eligibility for PUA. IDES has revamped its website and has a number of tutorials, videos and a chatbot.  Start here. More about PUA here and here.

DEADLINE CLOSED – Survey of Latinx Businesses

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in partnership with the strategy consulting firm, Milpa Services, are conducting a statewide survey to measure the COVID-19 impact on Latinx business owners in Illinois. If you are a Latinx business owner in Illinois, please consider completing the 8-10 minute survey in English or Spanish. Deadline to complete the survey is May 15, 2020.

Guidance for Hotels

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued guidance to hotel operators here.

Guidance for Plumbing Professionals

Guidance from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials can be found here.

Information for Child Care Providers

Beginning Saturday, March 21st at 5pm, licensed childcare centers and all childcare homes serving more than six children will be closed. The administration is working to expand the availability of childcare in small group sizes for essential workers through a newly available Emergency Child Care Center license.

Help for Consumers and Guidance for the Financial Sector

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced a series of actions to ensure the protection of Illinoisans in many areas of consumer borrowing, servicing, and collections. The Department also provided Guidance to its regulated entities, state banks, credit unions, installment lenders, payday lenders, title loan lenders, sales finance lenders including auto loans, currency exchanges, student loan servicers, mortgage servicers, and collection agencies concerning their lending, servicing, and collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Resources for the Beauty Industry

One of the hardest hit industries has been the beauty industry (hair stylists, barbers, estheticians).  These businesses are often run as sole proprietorships with no additional employees, making them ineligible for many of the state and federal programs.  The delay in unemployment filing for the self-employed is an additional hardship. The Professional Beauty Association has put together a set of industry resources regarding the virus here.  They also have a small grant program ($500 max) for beauty professionals facing financial difficulties.

Help for the Creative Community

Through the newly launched Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, individual artists and artisans – including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers – experiencing an urgent need are able to apply for one-time grants of $1,500 distributed by 3Arts. Grants will be awarded through a lottery system and will be disseminated quickly. Additionally, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of any size will be able to apply for relief through the Arts Work Fund. Based on their demonstrated financial need, organizations will be awarded grants from $6,000 – $30,000. 

Get Ready for the Rebound

Orbit Media provides a 26-point playbook to help companies prepare themselves for success after the economy is able to reopen.  Article here.

Forbes Article on Assistance to Hospitality Workers

In an article about a large donation by Barcardi to assist hospitality workers, Forbes does a nice job of cataloging a number of other charitable efforts aimed at helping hospitality workers.  Read the article here.

Employers’ Guide to COVID-19

Local human resources and benefits firm The Wyman Group has assembled an 82-page toolkit for employers to navigate the variety of rules and programs concerning COVID-19.  Download the toolkit here.

FEMA Advisories on Personal Protective Equipment

FEMA has issued some guidelines and advice regarding the use  and management of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in non-medical environments. Read the advisories here and here.

Essential Business Advice

Employees, companies or business owners who have questions on what qualifies as an “Essential Business or Operation” under Gov. Pritzker’s Stay at Home Executive Order (effective 3/21/20 at 5:00 p.m.) can call the IL Dept. of Commerce Hotline at 1-800-252-2923 or email CEO.support@illinois.gov. Also, listed among the categories for “essential businesses” in our March 22 email was “educational institutions.” To be clear, the Executive Order does not supersede the order to close schools. For purposes of the Stay At Home Order, educational institutions are limited to personnel necessary to delivering distance learning, performing critical research or performing essential functions (i.e. security, maintenance).

Essential Business Checklist

Illinois DCEO has put together a helpful FAQ for businesses to use to help with the “essential business” designation here.

Child Care Assistance

Employees in “essential businesses” (i.e. health care, manufacturing, grocery, etc.) can find find more information about emergency daycare services here.

“Stay At Home” Essential Businesses

Governor Pritzker issued an executive order that will prompt the temporary closure of businesses other than certain “essential businesses and operations.” The full executive order can be read here

Stay-At-Home Order Extended Through May

Governor Pritzker announced his intention to extend the “Stay-At-Home” order through Saturday, May 30.  The governor stated that there will be some modifications starting May 1 and briefly outlined a few:

  • Hospitals and other medical centers can resume some elective surgeries and other medical procedures.
  • Retail stores currently deemed “non-essential” can begin filling orders for delivery or curbside pickups.
  • Phased re-opening of state parks and golf courses with some regulations remaining in place.

In addition, starting May 1, all individuals over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask when in public and proper social distancing is difficult (i.e. a grocery store). The governor also announced that there will be new guidelines on social distancing for essential businesses like manufacturing.  According to the Illinois Manufacturers Association, those safety guidelines will include:

  • Face coverings must be provided to all employees who are not able to maintain six feet of social distancing
  • Manufacturers may only operate essential lines
  • Occupancy limits for essential businesses
  • Encourage staggered shifts

More information on these regulations and changes to the Stay-At-Home will be posted as soon as available. Media coverage here.

AAIM Morning Briefing on HR and COVID

AAIM Employers’ Association is hosting a free morning audio briefing on helping employers navigate this health crisis. 

Inc. Magazine Free Resources for Businesses

Inc. magazine has compiled an updated list of free tools, resources and financial help for businesses impacted by COVID-19 here.

COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act

On June 11, 2020 the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission updated its technical assistance guidelines for businesses who have questions about employee issues regarding COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and other Equal Employment Opportunity laws.  You can access the assistance here.

Survey Tools for Business

From the Illinois Small Business Development Center Network: Online survey tools are making it easy for businesses to create and send a survey within minutes. Conducting a survey online gives you the reach you need to get a good sample size for your survey. They are tools that help gauge how happy your customers are, do market research, gather feedback, and even measure employee satisfaction. Tools available here.

Farm and Agriculture

Great Lakes COVID-19 Farmer Resilience Initiative Grants Available June 6th

On April 11 Farm Aid hosted a virtual show, At Home With Farm Aid, with performances by Willie NelsonNeil YoungJohn Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews to show support and solidarity for family farmers and ranchers.
Farm Aid will be disbursing the $400,000 raised from the live-streamed event through a national COVID-19 Farmer Resilience Initiative that will quickly distribute emergency funds in the amount of $500 to farm families. The grants are meant to provide immediate relief and foster resilience before larger sources of money become available.

Farm Corps

For many of our Illinois farmers, COVID-19 has all but eliminated the available labor pool for growing and production. Farm Corps, a partnership of Illinois organizations and agriculture entities, addresses this labor gap by pairing furloughed or laid off veterans with producers across the state of Illinois who have an immediate need for on-the-farm labor.

Federal Assistance for Agriculture

High Plains Journal outlines three federal programs aimed at helping farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses weather the pandemic:

  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP): Part of the CARES Act, CFAP provides a total of $19 billion to assist farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of the United States food supply chain and ensure consumers have access to food.
  • Main Street Lending Program (MLS): The program is intended to help boost credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic. Under the updated provisions, the MLS Program is available for businesses with between 1 and 15,000 employees or that had less than $5 billion in revenue in 2019; will lend between $500,000 and $25 million ($200 million for expansion loans); defers interest and principal for 1 year; offers a low interest rate of LIBOR + 3%; and a lending term of 4 to 6 years.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL): EIDL is now available for and limited to agribusinesses.  The program is a low interest (3.75%) loan for companies with up to 500 employees.  EIDL will also provide a grant of $1,000 per employee (up to $10,000 total) in addition to the loan.

Resources Needed

Requests for PPE and more:

OSF Healthcare: OSF seeking personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other supplies. Information here.

UnityPoint Health: UnityPoint is seeking personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies. They are als in search of medical personnel to help them prepare in the event that there is an influx of sick patients.  Information here.

Heartland Health Services: Heartland Health Services is seeking personal protective equipment, medical supplies, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes unopened. Information here.

UICOMP Accepting Handmade Masks – The University of Illinois College of Medicine is accepting donations of handmade masks. Details can be found here: https://peoria.medicine.uic.edu/handmade-masks/

IWIRC:  Seeking standard PPE such as N-95/surgical/home-made masks, face shields, gowns, and latex-free gloves.  Donated supplies can be dropped off at their downtown Peoria clinic location at 736 SW Washington St. Information here.

Peoria Innovation Alliance: PIA is gathering the maker community to discuss ways individuals and small companies can make supplies like masks. Information here.

Supply Chain Support

IMEC – Supply Chain Support – If your company currently does or can quickly begin production on COVID-19, please fill out IMEC’s form.

United Way Volunteer Portal

The Heart of Illinois United Way has created a dedicated portal to organize volunteer opportunities in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Please consider sharing this website with any employees who may be in a position to assist.

CFCI is requesting monetary donations for the Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Nationally, and here in our region, the blood supply is being adversely impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. In some places, elective surgery is already being cancelled for blood availability. Businesses are urging employees to work from home, while most other activities have been cancelled. The pandemic is having a significant impact on participation in blood drives. COVID-19 presents no known risk to the safety of the nation’s blood supply, only the adequacy of the supply at this time. Individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood. If you are healthy… please consider donating!

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

COVID-19 Update: April 13, 5PM

ArtsPartners Resource Page for Artists and Art Organizations
Late last week ArtsPartners of Central Illinois launched a resource page designed to help local artists and arts organizations navigate COVID-19 relief funding opportunities.  Access it here.

Improvements to the State Unemployment System
Governor Pritzker today outlined steps being taken to improve Illinois’ unemployment filing system which has bogged down under a record number of filings.  Details on improvements here.

Illinois Workers Compensation Commission
At Governor Pritzker’s direction, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission adopted an emergency rule that automatically presumes that the workplace was the cause of the virus if any worker becomes infected with COVID-19.  Read the full rule here which goes into effect immediately.

Small Business Majority Resources
Small Business Majority is a national small business advocacy organization, founded and run by small business owners to ensure America’s entrepreneurs are a key part of a thriving and inclusive economy. They have compiled resources for small businesses to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, including cataloging a variety of webinars. More here.

Summary of Key Issues in Paycheck Protection Program
Via the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the firm of Greensfelder Hemker & Gale provides a summary of some key interpretations by the SBA regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. More here.

COVID-19 Update: April 10, 5PM

Local Property Tax Deadlines Changed
Tazewell and Peoria treasurers and county boards have both taken action to give property tax payers an extension for the first installment of annual property taxes.  Tazewell County has extended the deadline for the first payment until July 1 (from June 1). More here. Peoria County will split the first installment in half with 50% being due on June 96 and the remaining amount due 60 days later on August 10. More here.  Other local counties are still developing their own approaches.

PNC Guidance for Nonprofit Boards During COVID Crisis
From a business perspective, nonprofit organizations are likely feeling the impact — whether through new challenges in fundraising efforts, portfolio volatility from market fluctuations, or being called upon to help affected communities. At times like this, it is increasingly important to explore and implement best practices for financial, risk, and operational management. Jenna Weisner of PNC in Peoria provides two resources for nonprofits: an agenda of decisions boards should focus on immediately (here) and a summary on how boards may need to pivot on fundraising (here). PNC is also hosting a free webinar entitled “Nonprofit Enterprise Management: Strategic Planning for Adverse Scenarios” at 1 p.m. on April 21.  Get more information and register here.

US Chamber of Commerce Advocating for More Assistance for Small Businesses
U.S. Chamber sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to increase funding for both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Each program is designed specifically to assist small businesses.  However, due to extremely high demand, each is at risk of quickly running out of funding, and it is imperative that Congress add additional funding as soon as possible. Read the letter here.

RESOURCE REQUESTS
NEW – IWIRC:  Seeking standard PPE such as N-95/surgical/home-made masks, face shields, gowns, and latex-free gloves.  Donated supplies can be dropped off at their downtown Peoria clinic location at 736 SW Washington St. Information here.

COVID-19 Update: April 9, 5PM

SBA Clarification for Faith Based Organizations
The SBA has clarified that faith-based organizations are eligible to receive loans – both Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan – regardless of whether they provide secular social services. Read the FAQ here.

More SBA Illinois Webinars
If your small business has been impacted by coronavirus, join this free online training to learn more about several federal funding programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The next webinar will be Friday, April 10 at 10:30 am. Register here.

Reminder: Downstate Stabilization Program Deadlines
Small businesses (of 50 or less employees) are encouraged to apply for the Downstate Business Stabilization Program.  More details and application at www.gpcovid.com.  Deadlines for businesses to apply:

Peoria, Mason and Woodford Counties: April 10 at 5 p.m.
Tazewell County: April 13 at 5 p.m.
NEW: Logan County: April 17 at 5 p.m.

Hospitality Emergency Grant Results
DCEO received over 12,000 completed applications for the Hospitality Emergency Grant.  DCEO and Accion determined awardees via lottery. Those selected and not selected were notified on April 8, 2020. About 11,000 applications were from bars and restaurants while the remainder were small hotels. The program is awarding over 700 grant awards, totaling over $14 million. 71 counties in Illinois are represented with an average award of $20,000.  No information is yet available regarding selectees in Greater Peoria.

Updated CDC Guidance for Critical Workers Exposed to COVID-19
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. More information here.

COVID-19 Update: April 8, 6PM

Illinois Manufacturing Association Human Resources Webinar
The Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA) hosted a webinar to help their members navigate the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  They have graciously given us permission to share with our businesses, regardless of IMA membership. The webinar covers a variety of topics applicable to all businesses, not just manufacturers.  Watch the webinar recording here and access the slides here.

Washington Prime Group “Open for Small Business” Program
Washington Prime Group (WPG), owner of Northwoods Mall, has partnered with the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship and the University of Chicago to launch the Open for Small Business Initiative. This initiative provides an easy to use lease modification template allowing for the deferral of payments until local entrepreneurs can get back on their feet.  Open for Small Business is also hosting educational webcast seminars with government agency officials and private sector experts to discuss how to access SBA guaranteed loans and more. These resources are being made available to all small businesses whether or not they are a WPG tenant. More information on the program can be found here.

Illinois Unemployment Fact Sheet
Illinois Department of Employment Security has published a summary of expanded unemployment benefits here.

DCEO Summary of State and Federal Programs
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has put together a 26 page guide to state and federal programs aimed at helping businesses and individuals dealing with the pandemic. You can find the guide here.

REMINDER: Downstate Business Stabilization Program Application Portal Open
Small businesses in Greater Peoria who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $25,000 through Illinois’ Downstate Business Stabilization Program.  The program is aimed at businesses with 50 or less employees that have been in operation, with the current ownership, since at least January 1, 2017. Due to the nature of the funding behind this program, businesses in the cities of Peoria and Pekin are ineligible.  Businesses located in Peoria, Woodford and Mason counties have until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10 to submit their completed applications. Tazewell county businesses have until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 13.

COVID-19 Update: April 7, 5PM

Paycheck Protection Program
A number of tools were released to help businesses navigate the popular Paycheck Protection Program:

  • A mapping tool to help businesses find an approved SBA lender can be found here. This tool is greatly improved and much more comprehensive than the original tool that was available last week.  Potential borrowers should call banks before showing up, particularly if they are not current clients.

  • An updated FAQ (April 7) can be found here.

  • The final application for borrowers can be found here.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
Jim Foley of Bradley’s Small Business Development Center reports some positive changes to the EIDL program.  The biggest change is that personal guarantees are no longer required for loans of $200,000 or less. Further, loans under $500,000 do not require any collateral.  SBA are processing loans directly and according to them, those that applied last week should be seeing confirmation “within days.” Clients are reporting good success in reaching the SBA hotline (800-659-2955) and confirming their place in the decision queue. For more information on EIDL click here.

REMINDER: Downstate Business Stabilization Program Application Portal Open
Small businesses in Greater Peoria who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $25,000 through Illinois’ Downstate Business Stabilization Program.  The program is aimed at businesses with 50 or less employees that have been in operation, with the current ownership, since at least January 1, 2017. Due to the nature of the funding behind this program, businesses in the cities of Peoria and Pekin are ineligible.  Businesses located in Peoria, Woodford and Mason counties have until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10 to submit their completed applications. Tazewell county businesses have until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 13.

Ameren Business Assistance
Click here for information on Ameren utility assistance for businesses and individuals during this pandemic.

How to Conserve Business Cash Flow During the Coronavirus Pandemic
A good article in Small Business Trends about conserving cash flow can be found here.

RESOURCE REQUESTS

NEW: UICOMP Accepting Handmade Masks – The University of Illinois College of Medicine is accepting donations of handmade masks. Details can be found here: https://peoria.medicine.uic.edu/handmade-masks/

COVID-19 Update: April 6, 5PM

Downstate Business Stabilization Program Application Portal Open
Small businesses in Greater Peoria who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $25,000 through Illinois’ Downstate Business Stabilization Program.  The program is aimed at businesses with 50 or less employees that have been in operation, with the current ownership, since at least January 1, 2017. Due to the nature of the funding behind this program, businesses in the cities of Peoria and Pekin are ineligible.  Businesses located in Peoria, Woodford and Mason counties have until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10 to submit their completed applications. Tazewell county businesses have until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 13. More information, including a link to the application portal, can be found at www.gpcovid.com.

SBA Webinars on Federal Assistance
SBA Illinois is hosting a series of webinars that outline federal programs targeted at helping small businesses.  Topics include the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, among others. Click on the date and time that meets your needs to register:

Update on Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The United States Department of Labor has now issued its fourth set of Questions & Answers to help employers navigate the complexities of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Click here to read through the list of most commonly asked questions because there are some significant interpretations.

US Chamber of Commerce Guide for Coronavirus Paid Leave
The US Chamber of Commerce has put together a comprehensive guide for employers to better understand the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  Access it here.

IRS Information on Refundable Tax Credits
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19. Read more here.

Illinois Department of Public Health Guidance on Wearing Masks
IDPH issued guidance on where and when citizens should wear masks during this crisis. Read the guidance here.

COVID-19 Update: April 3, 4PM

Become an Approved SBA 7a Lender
The popular Paycheck Protection Program is only available at approved SBA 7a lenders. While most banks in the Greater Peoria area are approved lenders, some smaller banks — often in more rural communities — are not.  SBA has created a fast track process for banks and credit unions to become approved for this program. More information here.

ShelfLove Helps Small Businesses Reduce Inventory
Pekin native and Eureka College graduate Anna Palmer and her team have created an on-line platform for small businesses to get their products into the hands of consumers across the country.  Shop owners looking for quick ways to sell their products online and/or to reach a bigger audience, should investigate ShelfLove. It’s a new marketplace launching for shoppers to purchase products sitting in closed up shops. Businesses can create listings instantly right from a smartphone or computer, get a link to share with audiences without having to build an online store, and push listings to thousands of shoppers across the country looking to support small businesses. When orders come in, businesses reach out to the customer and ship right directly. More information at www.shelflove.org/retailers.

Free Resources for Small Businesses
A growing number of companies are offering their online tools, classes, and resources at no cost in response to the impact on small-business owners from the coronavirus. Inc. magazine is curating and continuously updating a list here.

Blood Donors Needed
Nationally, and here in our region, the blood supply is being adversely impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. In some places, elective surgery is already being cancelled for blood availability. Businesses are urging employees to work from home, while most other activities have been cancelled. The pandemic is having a significant impact on participation in blood drives.  COVID-19 presents no known risk to the safety of the nation’s blood supply, only the adequacy of the supply at this time. Individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood. For more information on donating click  here.  If you are healthy… please consider donating!

COVID-19 Update: April 2, 4:30PM

Changes to Illinois Estimated Tax Payment Requirements
Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the subsequent Emergency Declaration of Disaster by Governor JB Pritzker, the filing and payment deadline for income tax returns due April 15, 2020, was extended to July 15, 2020. As a result, a significant number of taxpayers will not be able to accurately calculate and pay their 2020 Illinois estimated income tax. Since taxpayers may not know their prior year’s tax liability if they do not file by the original due date, the Department is providing for an additional option upon which taxpayers can base their 2020 estimated tax payments. Read their guidance here.

Paycheck Protection Plan vs. Economic Injury Disaster Loan
If you are confused by the differences between the PPP and EIDL programs for small business, take a look at this helpful comparison chart here.

More SBA Illinois Webinars on EIDL
SBA’s Illinois office is continuing to offer webinars for businesses interested in learning more about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.  Topics include eligibility, uses, terms and application process. Upcoming webinars are free but do require registration. Click the date/time below that interests you.

   ·   Friday, April 3, 11 a.m.

   ·   Friday, April 3, 3 p.m.

   ·   Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m. 

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
The United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation has launched a program to assist bartenders, bar-backs, cocktail servers and other similar workers who are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID crisis (i.e. unpaid medical bills, eviction notice, etc.).  Assistance is not available for businesses, just individuals. More information here.

COVID-19 Update: April 1, 12:30PM

It is April
Really, it is April.  March is over, finally. (When will May be here?)

Sample Paycheck Protection Program Application Available
Late Tuesday the Treasury Department and SBA released a sample application for businesses to better understand the process for receiving a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.  You can download the sample application here and get more detailed information here. According to the information page, businesses can begin applying on Friday, April 3. Self-employed individuals and independent contractors can begin applying starting on Friday, April 10.  Check with your lender to see if they are an SBA approved 7a lender and if they are prepared to take applications on opening day.

Employee Retention Credit
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll.  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. More information from the Treasury Department here and information from the US Senate Committee of Finance here.

Verizon LISC Small Business Recovery Fund
Thanks to a $2.5 million investment from Verizon, LISC is offering grants to help small businesses fill urgent financial gaps until they can resume normal operations or until other more permanent financing becomes available. Approved businesses will receive a $10,000 grant to cover operational expenses (rent, utilities, vendor payments, liability holders, payroll, etc.).  Program website is here and the application page can be found here.  It’s a relatively straightforward application, with the only document needed for submission being a copy of your business’ Federal ID/Tax Identification Number.  Please be sure to note that you were referred by LISC in question 14 and enter “Karen Davis – Peoria” in the “Other” line.

REMINDER: Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Application Due TODAY at 5 PM
The State of Illinois is offering grants of up to $50,000 for hotels and up to $25,000 for bars and restaurants.  Applicants will be chosen via a lottery, not based on merit. The application is very simple, but only those who have completed an application by April 1 at 5 p.m. will be entered.  Decisions announced on April 4. An FAQ on the program, including a description of the information you will need, can be found here.  More information and the application portal can be found here.

Summary of Government Actions to Support Business
PNC has put together a comprehensive summary of all federal programs impacting business (of any size) here.

April 1 is Census Day; April 3 is Corporate Census Day
In the midst of this pandemic and economic crisis, the federal government is also conducting the decennial Census.  Full participation in the Census is incredibly important — made more apparent in this crisis. The CARES Act (federal coronavirus relief bill) included a distribution of federal Community Development Block Grant dollars to the state of Illinois and major cities.  The State received about $18 million, the City of Peoria received about $1 million and the City of Pekin received $250,000. These disbursements are based on population! Without an accurate count, our communities will receive less money in the future. The census form contains only nine questions and can be filled out online or over the phone.  Please encourage your friends, family and employees to take 10—15 minutes out of their workday to complete the census. For more information on Corporate Census Day, click here.

Help for the Creative Community
Through the newly launched Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, individual artists and artisans – including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers – experiencing an urgent need are able to apply for one-time grants of $1,500 distributed by 3Arts. Grants will be awarded through a lottery system and will be disseminated quickly. Additionally, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of any size will be able to apply for relief through the Arts Work Fund. Based on their demonstrated financial need, organizations will be awarded grants from $6,000 – $30,000. More information about application guidelines and eligibility can be found online.

Additional Guidance on Families First Act
The Department of Labor issued new guidance addressing exemptions under the paid leave laws this past weekend (March 28). Joshua Herman of Miller, Hall & Triggs provides an excellent summary of exemptions now available for businesses under 50 employees and others here.

COVID-19 Update: March 31, 4:30PM

Gov. Pritzker Extends Stay At Home Order Until April 30
At today’s press conference, Gov. Pritzker announced that his stay-at-home order would now be in effect through April 30. More information from the Peoria Journal Star here.

REMINDER: Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Application Due TOMORROW at 5 PM
The State of Illinois is offering grants of up to $50,000 for hotels and up to $25,000 for bars and restaurants.  Applicants will be chosen via a lottery, not based on merit. The application is very simple, but only those who have completed an application by April 1 at 5 p.m. will be entered.  Decisions announced on April 4. An FAQ on the program, including a description of the information you will need, can be found here.  More information and the application portal can be found here.

New: Details released on Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
The state released details of its Emergency Loan Fund which will offer businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in gross annual revenue a 5-year, 3% loan of up to $50,000.  Principal and interest payments are deferred for the first six months. Loan funds must be used for working capital, and at least 50% of loan proceeds must be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation, with a commitment to hire or retain at least 50% of a business workforce for six months. More information here.

Help for Consumers and Guidance for the Financial Sector
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced a series of actions to ensure the protection of Illinoisans in many areas of consumer borrowing, servicing, and collections. The Department also provided Guidance to its regulated entities, state banks, credit unions, installment lenders, payday lenders, title loan lenders, sales finance lenders including auto loans, currency exchanges, student loan servicers, mortgage servicers, and collection agencies concerning their lending, servicing, and collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more here.

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
The National Restaurant Association, thanks in part to a donation from Guy Fieri, has created the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  Laid off restaurant employees who have worked at least 90 days part- or full-time in a restaurant in the past year can apply for a one time $500 payment.  Applications open starting April 2. More information here.

RESOURCE REQUESTS
NEW – Heartland Health Services: Seeking personal protective equipment, medical supplies, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes unopened.  More information here.

COVID-19 Update: March 30, 4:30PM

REMINDER: Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Application Due April 1
The State of Illinois is offering grants of up to $50,000 for hotels and up to $25,000 for bars and restaurants.  Applicants will be chosen via a lottery, not based on merit. The application is very simple, but only those who have completed an application by April 1 will be entered.  Decisions announced on April 4. An FAQ on the program, including a description of the information you will need, can be found here.  More information and the application portal can be found here.

Paycheck Protection Plan Update
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the cornerstone of the federal relief package for small businesses.  While it is important to start the conversation with your local financial institution, the SBA has not yet finalized the application process.  The hope is for that to be completed by the end of this week or early next week. In the meantime, small businesses in need of immediate relief should consider financing under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).  This program is available now directly through SBA. Any borrowing done under EIDL can then be refinanced under PPP. For more information on EIDL, contact Bradley University’s Small Business Development Center here.

From a recent SBA message: “Additional information will be coming soon on the CARES Act. The federal agencies involved are working diligently to get program rules and processes in place so help can get out to small businesses as soon as possible. However, it is premature to discuss program implementation specifics of the CARES Act because that work is still being done and program details may change. Our focus is providing our small businesses, lenders, and other small business stakeholders with information that reflects the actual program implementation of the legislation with associated rules and requirements.”

Greater Peoria EDC Live-Streamed Events
GPEDC’s Startup Greater Peoria has put together a lineup of free, live-streamed events this week:

   ·   3/31, 12pm CT, Business Continuity Planning
   ·   4/1, 8am CT, Remmert Method: Startup Stories & 2 Minute Crisis Workshop
   ·   4/2, 8am CT, How to Live Safely Together in This Pandemic.

These webinars and archives of past webinars and workshops can be found at https://www.facebook.com/StartupGreaterPeoria/events/.  Additionally, for businesses that are interested in exploring new opportunities or problem-solving during the pandemic, please reach out to Andrew Ngui, GPEDC’s Director of Innovation and Startups at angui@greaterpeoriaedc.org.

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
The Chambers of Commerce in the region are jointly hosting a webinar to give businesses some tools to deal with these uncertain times. Join the free webinar on Thursday, April 2 at 1pm to learn from Dean Heffta: “In times of great uncertainty, we can feel unsure of our priorities and what action needs to be taken. What we really want is clarity on how to best think through our new situation so we can lead with confidence.” Register here.

COVID-19 Update: March 29, 4:30PM

REMINDER: Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Application Due April 1
The State of Illinois is offering grants of up to $50,000 for hotels and up to $25,000 for bars and restaurants.  Applicants will be chosen via a lottery, not based on merit. The application is very simple, but only those who have completed an application by April 1 will be entered.  Decisions announced on April 4. An FAQ on the program, including a description of the information you will need, can be found here.  More information and the application portal can be found here.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Checklist
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed a very helpful checklist and guide for the Paycheck Protection Program here.  All business owners should review the information in this guide and other information at www.gpcovid.com and contact their bank to start the application process.

Childcare Resources
From Ready Nation: Like schools, most child care programs have been asked to close. But many emergency and essential workers continue to need reliable care for their kids. Thus, the state is in the process of establishing a series of “emergency child care” options – settings that could operate under more flexible-than-usual rules, while still offering kids and families crucial assistance.  Existing, interested providers could apply to re-open in this process; other, new providers could explore options for starting-up. See below for more information:

   ·   How to find emergency child care – Call 888-228-1146 or visit here.

   ·   General guidance on establishing emergency-care options, including rules, a license application, list of essential workers, and background-check authorization – click here.

   ·   Related FAQ, including info on the closure of normal child care operations – click here.

Reminder: Families First Act Goes Into Effect April 1
The Families First Act grant emergency paid sick leave to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees and expands family and medical leave. It takes effect on April 1, 2020.  The US Department of Labor has an FAQ here.

COVID-19 Update: March 28, 4:30PM

IMPORTANT: Summary of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
For small businesses, the most attractive program built into the CARES Act (the federal coronavirus relief package) is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  PPP is funded to the tune of $349 billion through the Small Business Administration (SBA). However, the program differs in significant ways from the currently available Economic Injury Disaster Program.  First, businesses will apply through individual banks, not the SBA itself. Second, while technically a loan program, a portion — and potentially all — of the loan can be forgiven, making it act more like a grant.  Below is a high level summary of PPP:

Eligibility: For profit businesses with less than 500 employees (including hotels and food service businesses that have less than 500 employees per location); 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; veterans organizations; eligible self-employed individuals; independent contractors; sole proprietorships

Loan amount: The maximum loan size is equivalent to 250% of the employer’s average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million. Payroll costs are defined broadly to include wages, salaries, retirement contributions, healthcare benefits, covered leave, and other expenses. Put another way, the size of the loan is equal to the cost of payroll for about 10 weeks.

Loan terms: Up to 10 years at 4% with the ability to defer principal and interest payment for between 6 and 12 months. There are no fees, no requirement to secure the debt with collateral, no requirement of a personal guarantee, and no penalty for early payoff.

Loan forgiveness: This is the important part! A portion of the loan (up to 100%) will be forgiven in an amount equal to how much the business actually paid for payroll costs, salaries, benefits, rent, utilities and mortgage interest during the eight weeks following the loan’s disbursement. If employees are laid off or their salaries are reduced there could be a reduction in the amount forgiven.  Borrowers will need to apply through their lender for this forgiveness and provide documentation for all costs. Banks will have 60 days to make the determination.

There is a great deal of information available on the internet regarding PPP including articles published by the Economic Innovation Group, National Law Review, Bench and Forbes.

Business owners interested in PPP should call their banker as soon as possible, ask if they are an approved Small Business Administration 7a lender (most locally are) and request a meeting to discuss this program.  Businesses can also get advice from the Small Business Development Center at Bradley University.  We will provide more information on this program and other CARES Act provisions as details come available.

DCEO Creates COVID Web Resource Page
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has created a helpful webpage that outlines state assistance for businesses, workers and residents.  Access it here.

Free Food Composting by Better Earth Logistics
Better Earth Logistics, a custom food recycling service in the area, is offering their services for free to ANY central IL restaurant, cafe, business or supermarket who have an excess of perishable food (that cannot be donated). Their goal is to divert such food waste from a landfill and turn it into compost.  For more information or to schedule a service, email them at info@betterearthlogistics.com.

Reminder: More SBA Webinars Next Week
Click one of the dates below to be taken to the registration page for a webinar hosted by Illinois SBA on the Economic Injury Disaster Program:

   ·   Monday, March 30, 11 a.m.
   ·   
Monday, March 30, 1 p.m. (Chinese/Mandarin)
   ·   
Monday, March 30, 3 p.m.
   ·   
Tuesday, March 31, 11 a.m.
   ·   
Tuesday, March 31, 3 p.m.

COVID-19 Update: March 27, 4:30PM

US House of Representatives Approves COVID Relief Bill
This afternoon the US House of Representatives approved the relief bill previously approved by the US Senate.  We will start digging into the details and distribute information as soon as possible.

More SBA Webinars Next Week
Illinois SBA has scheduled more webinars for next week to help businesses understand the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  The webinars are free but “sell out” fast due to limited capacity for an on-line meeting. Click one of the dates below to be taken to the registration page for that session.

   ·   Monday, March 30, 11 a.m.
   ·  
Monday, March 30, 1 p.m. (Chinese/Mandarin)
   ·  
Monday, March 30, 3 p.m.
   ·  
Tuesday, March 31, 11 a.m.
   ·  
Tuesday, March 31, 3 p.m.

IDES Improving Unemployment Filing System
The Illinois unemployment filing system has been inundated with claims over the past few weeks.  To address this, IDES is making a variety of improvements. In addition, IDES has staggered days and times for people to file on-line or via the help desk line:

Online Filing Schedule:

   ·   Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.|
   ·   Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
   ·   Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

Call Center Filing Schedule:

   ·   Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
   ·   Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
   ·   Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

Full information here.

City of Peoria COVID Resources
The City of Peoria Economic Development Department has created a web resource for COVID related information and programs here.

Curbside/Carryout Alcohol Sales
The City of Peoria has published guidance for liquor license holders here.

AAIM Morning Briefing on HR and COVID
AAIM Employers’ Association has been hosting a 30-minute conference call each weekday morning to share information regarding human resources concerns amidst the COVID pandemic.  They also take questions from listeners. The call is free and happens 7:30 – 8:00 am each weekday morning. To register or listen to previous recordings, go here.

RESOURCE REQUESTS

UnityPoint Health: UnityPoint is seeking personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies. They are als in search of medical personnel to help them prepare in the event that there is an influx of sick patients.  Information here.

COVID-19 Update: March 26, 4:30PM

Downstate Business Stabilization Program
Yesterday, the State released details of three programs that are aimed at helping small businesses (generally those with less than 500 employees).  Today (a day early) details of the Downstate Stabilization Program were released and can be found here. According to DCEO: “The program component makes funds available for 60 days of verifiable working capital up to a grant ceiling of $25,000 and is available for businesses that employ 50 people or less.  Number of employees includes the business owner(s). These funds may be used to assist private for-profit small retail and service businesses, or businesses considered non-essential by the Governor’s Executive Order without the ability for employees to work remotely.” Of note: counties, cities or villages must apply on behalf of businesses interested in this program.  We will have more details once we digest this newly posted information.

Summary of Senate Relief Package
Yesterday the US Senate passed a $2 trillion relief package aimed at helping individuals, businesses, hospitals and communities impacted by coronavirus.  The bill will be taken up by the House in the next few days and is expected to be immediately signed by the President. The International Economic Development Council has an excellent summary of the basic elements of the relief bill here. Greater Peoria EDC will be monitoring this bill and cataloging information about programs and funds available.

Mandatory Employer Posting
The US Department of Labor mandates that employers post “in a conspicuous place” information regarding the elements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The mandatory poster can be found here.  USDOL as has published a Q&A about the poster here. Of note regarding companies who have a considerable number of teleworkers at the moment, USDOL advises that the requirement may be satisfied by emailing, direct mailing, and/or posting on external or internal websites.

USDA Assistance to Rural Communities and Businesses
USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. Read more here.

IRS Tax Guidance on Tax Credits for Coronavirus Paid Leave
Information from the Wyman Group regarding recent IRS guidance on tax credits associated with the Families First Act here.

Recommended Guidance for Large Businesses
The Illinois Department of Public Health has published guidance for avoiding the spread of COVID-19 in large businesses here.

Reminder: I-74 Bridge Closure
In the midst of all the discussion about COVID-19, don’t forget that the Murray Baker bridge closes on Sunday, March 29 and will remain closed through October. (Since no one has anywhere to go right now, this is a great time to start this project and let us ease into new traffic patterns.)  More here.

COVID-19 Update: March 25, 5PM

Breaking News: State of Illinois Programs for Small Business
Gov. Pritzker today announced three new programs to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  More details here but in brief:

   ·  Hospitality Emergency Grant: Bars, restaurants and hotels with a valid license can receive grants up to $50,000 to support working capital costs like payroll and rent.  Applications being accepted now.  Click here for more information.

   ·  Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund: low-interest, five-year loans of up to $50,000 for small businesses (less than 50 employees) outside of City of Chicago. Deferred payments for first six months.  Applications accepted starting April 1.

   ·  Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program: Grants up to $25,000 for businesses with less than 50 employees outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.  Funds applied for by units of government (counties, cities, villages) on behalf of their businesses. (We will do more research into this program in particular.) Application materials available March 27.

This information will be updated.

Breaking News: Illinois Tax Deadline Pushed Back to July 15
At his daily coronavirus press conference, Gov. Pritzker announced that the tax filing deadline will be pushed back to July 15 to match the change in the federal deadline.  More details here.

Update from Bradley SBDC on SBA Emergency Loans
Jim Foley of Bradley’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship reports that they have already helped over 50 businesses better understand the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  SBA has decided that all loan payments for the first 11 months will be deferred with only interest accruing. Businesses are reporting problems filing on the SBA portal during working hours and are encouraged to do so after hours.  More information from Bradley here.

US Department of Labor Guidance on Emergency Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA
The US Department of Labor today made available a set of resources regarding two important provisions of the Families First Act: the emergency sick leave provision and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Both pieces of legislation impact businesses with 500 or fewer employees. Resources include a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers.

Reminder: I-74 Bridge Closure
In the midst of all the discussion about COVID-19, don’t forget that the Murray Baker bridge closes on Sunday, March 29 and will remain closed through October. (Since no one has anywhere to go right now, this is a great time to start this project and let us ease into new traffic patterns.)  More here

COVID-19 Update: March 24, 5PM

Great American Takeout
Tuesday, March 24 is The Great American Takeout where individuals pledge to order takeout food from a local restaurant for at least one meal.  People are asked to tag social media posts with #thegreatamericantakeout. More info here. Reading this email on Wednesday? That is a good day for takeout, too. Here is a list of open restaurants compiled by local organizations: Enjoy Peoria, Peoria Chamber, Pekin Chamber, East Peoria Chamber, Washington Chamber, Morton Chamber.

More Illinois SBA Webinars Scheduled
Illinois SBA has scheduled more webinars to help explain the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  Topics include eligibility, use of funds, and application process. Bradley’s SBDC is also putting together its own webinar to be held later this week but is a resource for potential applicants now.  Their website is here. To register for the Illinois SBA webinars, click on the time that works for you (free, but registration required and “seats” fill fast):

   · Wednesday, March 25, 11 a.m. CT
   · Thursday, March 26, 11 a.m. CT
   · Thursday, March 26, 3 p.m. CT

Commerce Bank Information on Avoiding Fraud and Emergency Considerations
Commerce Bank has put together two informational bulletins:
   · Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus Fraud can be found here.
   · Financial considerations for the coronavirus and other emergencies can be found here.

Bridge’ loans for Illinois businesses available as soon as this week, treasurer’s office says
From KWQC: Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Monday. The state treasurer’s office will make $250 million available to Illinois banks and credit unions that wish to participate. The financial institutions will determine who is eligible for the loans. More here.

RESOURCE REQUESTS

Community Foundation of Central Illinois: Requesting monetary donations for the Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund. Information https://communityfoundationci.org/.

OSF Healthcare: OSF seeking personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other supplies. Information here.

Peoria Innovation Alliance: PIA is gathering the maker community to discuss ways individuals and small companies can make supplies like masks. Information here.

COVID-19 Update: March 23, 5PM

Essential Business Checklist
Illinois DCEO has put together a helpful FAQ for businesses to use to help with the “essential business” designation here

Bradley SBDC Ready to Work on SBA Loan Applications
The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University and the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship are ready to assist small businesses affected by COVID-19. Specifically, the staff has been trained on the SBA emergency loans available to area small businesses affected by the economic slowdown. More here.

Filing for Unemployment
With IDES phsyical offices being closed, unemployed workers have two options for filing for unemployment: call 1-800-244-5631 or visit https://www2.illinois.gov/ides.

Social Distancing Guidance
The Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford County Health Departments issued guidance on social distancing requirements for essential businesses and operations. Read it here.

Illinois Manufacturers Association FAQ
IMA has put together an FAQ on COVID related business issues that is being constantly updated.  You can find it here.  While geared towards manufacturing, it is relevant for all types of business operations.

COVID-19 Update: March 22, 5PM

IRS Extends Tax Filing Deadline to July 15, 2020
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced on March 21 that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. Read more here.  The IRS has also set up a website regarding Coronavirus and taxes here.

Essential Business Advice
Employees, companies or business owners who have questions on what qualifies as an “Essential Business or Operation” under Gov. Pritzker’s Stay at Home Executive Order (effective 3/21/20 at 5:00 p.m.) can call the IL Dept. of Commerce Hotline at 1-800-252-2923 or email CEO.support@illinois.gov.  Also, listed among the categories for “essential businesses” in our March 22 email was “educational institutions.” To be clear, the Executive Order does not supersede the order to close schools.  For purposes of the Stay At Home Order, educational institutions are limited to personnel necessary to delivering distance learning, performing critical research or performing essential functions (i.e. security, maintenance).

Workplace Safety
OSHA has compiled resources and guidance regarding COVID-19 and workplace safety here.

Information for Child Care Providers
Beginning Saturday, March 21st at 5pm, licensed childcare centers and all childcare homes serving more than six children will be closed. The administration is working to expand the availability of childcare in small group sizes for essential workers through a newly available Emergency Child Care Center license. More information here.

COVID-19 Update: March 21, 5PM

State Survey of Business Impact
Illinois DCEO is tracking the impact of this crisis on business and is asking businesses to complete a short survey here.  Answers to these questions will help inform state policy makers on shaping responses.

“Stay At Home” Essential Businesses
Yesterday Governor Pritzker issued an executive order that will prompt the temporary closure of businesses other than certain “essential businesses and operations.” The full executive order can be read here. Below is a summary of the broad categories defined as essential:

  • Grocery stores
  • Agriculture and food, beverage, and cannabis production
  • Charitable and social service providers
  • Media
  • Gas stations and transportation-related facilities
  • Financial institutions
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades (HVAC, plumbers, electrician, cleaning, etc)
  • Mail, postal, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
  • Educational Institutions (essential staff only, no students)
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises
  • Supplies to work from home (businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply products)
  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Day care centers for employees exempted by this order
  • Manufacturing
  • Critical labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral Services

 

More SBA DIsaster Loan Information
Illinois SBA held a series of webinars on Friday and Saturday to provide information on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  The webinars were all sold out, but we’ve stored the PowerPoint slides here. The same webinar is being held twice on Monday, March 23.  Register for the 11 am session here and the 3 pm session here.  More information at Bradley’s SBDC website

United Way Volunteer Portal
The Heart of Illinois United Way has created a dedicated portal to organize volunteer opportunities in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.  The portal can be viewed here.  Please consider sharing this website with any employees who may be in a position to assist.

CDFA COVID-19 Resource Center
The Council for Development Finance Agencies (CFDA) has created a great website collecting information on financing programs and resources to address disaster relief and recovery. You can access the library here.

COVID-19 Update: March 20, 5PM

Text of Illinois “Stay-at-Home” Order
This afternoon Gov. Pritzker announced an order for Illinois citizens to stay at home other than to conduct essential activities.  The order further outlines the closing of businesses other than those listed in a variety of “Essential Businesses and Operations.”  The full text of the order, including definitions of essential activities and businesses, can be found here.  All State of Illinois resources regarding COVID-19, including all executive orders, can be found here.

Illinois Small Businesses Can Now Apply for SBA Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering small businesses in Illinois low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Locally, Bradley University’s Illinois Small Business Development Center is positioned to assist businesses understand this program and assist with applying.  They have assembled information here. Bradley assists businesses in nearly all the counties in the region.  Businesses in Logan County should contact the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.

Key information:

  • The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is a loan, not a grant.  However, it comes with a low interest rate of 3.75% for businesses, and 2.75% for private non-profits. And the payback period can be as long as 30 years. There is also a four-month grace period after the loan is approved before the first payment is due.  Businesses should also consult their accountant, banker, or lawyer for additional guidance as to the suitability of this loan program for your circumstances.
  • Loan requests are made directly by individuals (sole proprietors) and businesses. Banks do not accept EIDL applications. Loan proceeds are paid directly to the applicant’s bank account.
  • The loan amount may be up to $2,000,000. There is no fee to apply. Approved applications do not have to use all the approved loan amount and application approvals may be placed on hold for up to six months. 
  • Only small businesses are eligible as determined by your industry’s NAICS code and SBA guidelines. However, for most businesses, less than 500 employees would qualify. If needed, our advisors can confirm if your business qualifies.
  • Approvals are partly based on the demonstrated ability to repay the loan as evidenced through financial history and projections, along with credit scores. However, a low credit score does not preclude approval. Collateral will be required for loan amounts above $25,000 with real estate as the preferred collateral.
  • The goal of this loan program is to provide the working capital you need to get through depressed economic conditions. This includes expenses such as rent, payroll, and other operational expenses.

Information for Job Seekers and Companies Hiring
Job seekers can subscribe to receive job postings by registering their email at www.careerlink16.com.  Jobs also posted on IDES’ JobLink job board.  All unemployment benefit recipients must register and use Illinois JobLink as part of their job search.  Employers can also search resumes and post jobs on Illinois JobLink.  

Additional Guidance for the Oral Health Community and Dental Practices
This guidance is to provide continued information and recommendations for the Oral Health Community and Providers. This guidance is supplemental to the Clinical and Public Health Guidance for Managing COVID-19 Interim Guidance (subject to change); March 18, 2020, published by IDPH and can found here

COVID-19 Update: March 19, 5PM

We continue to assemble resources and information for the business community regarding COVID-19.  As you all recognize, we are in a very fluid situation with information changing daily, and sometimes twice daily.  We will do our best to provide you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible.

Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund
The Community Foundation of Central Illinois is serving as the home for monetary donations to help individuals, organizations and businesses recover from this economic crisis.  Learn more and donate here.

SBA Loans
This afternoon Illinois received its economic disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA) which will open participation in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Unlike prior designations, this covers businesses in any county in the state.  This program will offer low-interest loans up to $2 million to small businesses impacted by the crisis. The loans are made directly by SBA not banks. High level information can be found here. More details will be forthcoming. Bradley University’s Small Business Development Center will be a key local point of information once the program begins.

Sales Tax Deferral for Bars and Restaurants
Gov. Pritzker has directed the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) to defer sales tax payments for 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. The Department of Revenue estimates this will give relief to nearly 80% of bars and restaurants in Illinois.  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, please view IDOR’s informational bulletin available at tax.illinois.gov.

Families First Act
President Trump signed the Families First Act, a second bill aimed at aiding economic hardship for business and employees.  The main thrusts of the bill are to (1) expand the Family and Medical Leave Act and (2) create the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  National HR consulting firm Greensfelder has a summary of the Act here.  The St. Louis law firm Ogletree Deakins has put together a matrix summary here.

Small Business Resources
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is compiling resources and information for small businesses here.  DCEO is still seeking information from businesses regarding the impact the crisis is having on operations and revenue.  Complete their survey here.

Illinois Manufacturing Helpline
The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, headquartered at Bradley University, has established a virtual helpline for manufacturing businesses here.

Guidance for Closed Food Service Operations
The Illinois Department of Public Health has provided guidance for re-opening bars and restaurants that have been closed during the state ban here.

COVID-19 Update: March 18, 5PM

IRS and Federal Taxes
CORRECTION from 3/17 bulletin: While the filing day for federal taxes remains April 15, 2020, the IRS has given individual filers an additional 90 days to pay income taxes due up to $1 million while corporations get the same delay for payments up to $10 million. Similar efforts are being made with the Illinois Department of Revenue regarding state taxes.    

Unemployment Insurance Rates
We have been fielding a number of inquiries from employers regarding the impact of mass unemployment filings on their unemployment insurance rates.  Unfortunately, there is not much information available. IDES has appended this information to its FAQ page:

  • Q: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, will the employer’s unemployment contribution rate increase?
  • A: At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such time, normal procedures will be followed. In general, the contribution rate of an experience rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees. 

Business Interruption Insurance
We have also fielded inquiries regarding business interruption service which provides businesses with coverage during periods of lost income or increased expense.  In general these policies cover claims stemming from physical damage (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) and may not cover communicable disease outbreak. Tim Neuhauser of Envision Insurance provides a general explanation here.

Facebook Grants for Small Business
Facebook is awarding $100 million in grants and ad credits to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries. Learn more here.

Fair Labor Standards Act and COVID
The US Department of Labor has guidance posted here.

Guidance for Restaurants
Tazewell County Health Department has published guidance for restaurants and bars here. Tazewell Co. restaurants with questions are asked to email food@tchd.net. Peoria County’s guidance is also summarized on their Facebook page. Their email for questions is EH@peoriacounty.org.

Business Continuity Seminar
Gartner, a business consulting firm, is hosting a free webinar on business continuity planning on Thursday, March 19 at 8 am. Register here

Guidance for Hotels
The Illinois Department of Public Health issued guidance to hotel operators here.

Guidance for Plumbing Professionals
Guidance here for plumbing professionals.

COVID-19 Update: March 17, 5PM

We continue to assemble resources and information for the business community regarding COVID-19. 

  • Illinois has filed its paperwork with the federal government to be declared a disaster area.  With your help, the state was able to log over 2,000 individual businesses impacted and believes that the entire state will get the declaration (vs. individual counties).  FEMA has had a very quick turnaround on these applications. A declaration will make communities and companies eligible for federal assistance, including SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The Small Business Development Center at Bradley University is preparing itself to provide technical assistance and will be providing more information soon.
  • On Sunday Governor Pritzker issued a ban on in-facility dining at bars and restaurants in Illinois, effective at 9 p.m. on Monday, March 16.  You can read a copy of the Executive Order hereEach county health department is issuing its own guidance to establishments.  Peoria City/County Health Department has advised that patrons can enter an establishment to pick up food provided that there is proper space for social distancing.
  • OSHA’s newly released guidance on COVID-19 in the workplace can be found here.
  • This morning, Governor JB Pritzker and Secretary of Transportation Omer Osman ordered the Illinois Department of Transportation to increase truck weights on Illinois roads to 88,000 pounds (currently 80,000 pounds) for a 5-axle vehicle or 10 percent above the legal load for vehicles with fewer axles.  Additionally, the Governor waived all overweight fees for the transportation of emergency relief and supplies. The increased weight limits and fee waivers expire on April 12, 2020. Executive order here and IDOT information here.
  • Attention non-profit organizations: Forefront, an association of Illinois grantmakers and nonprofits, has developed a survey in an effort to collect responses from the nonprofit sector regarding the impact of COVID-19. Please take the survey here. Forefront also has a webpage dedicated to keeping the nonprofit sector apprised of COVID-19 developments, available here.
  • Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) offices have closed to the public but individuals are encouraged to file for unemployment online here. IDES has filed emergency rules that waive the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office has closed through March 31 and all statutorily-required filings are extended by 30 days.
  • AAIM Employers’ Association is hosting a free morning audio briefing on helping employers navigate this health crisis. More information here.
COVID-19 Update: March 16, 4 PM

We continue to assemble resources and information for the business community regarding COVID-19.  

  • The Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI), announced today the organization will begin accepting donations in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to address emerging community needs in central Illinois. The Central Illinois Disaster Recovery Fund will accept tax-deductible donations that will be used to provide grant support to nonprofit organizations engaged in meeting emerging community needs related to the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). An advisory committee will make recommendations to the CFCI Board of Directors about where unmet needs and funding gaps exist. Grants will then be made from the fund to help address those needs. More information here.
  • We have received a number of questions regarding unemployment insurance and filing for employees impacted by COVID-related shutdowns.  There is still not a lot of specific information available but we will keep looking. You can access some information from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) here. (Warning: high traffic has caused their website to crash. You may have to try multiple times.)  National Law Review does have a good summary of the House bill that was passed early Saturday morning here. Note that the bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President, both of which are expected this week.
  • The Illinois Gaming Board has ordered the suspension of all video gaming operations at licensed operations as of 9 pm tonight (Monday, March 16).  More here.
  • Manufacturing Excellence Partnership programs across the country have put information together.  You can find the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC, headquartered at Bradley) here. Some great information has also been put together by Impact Washington which you can access here. Of particular note is information on creating a Business Continuity Plan which can be found here.

MORE RESOURCES

© 2020 Greater Peoria Economic Development Council