Region 2 Moves to Phase 4

The Illinois Department of Public Health has stated that Region 2, which includes Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Fulton counties, has progressed to Phase 4, effective immediately. (Region 3 remains in Phase 4.) Full regulations for Phase 4 can be found here.

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.


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: February 28, 2021

Changes to Paycheck Protection Program
The SBA has made a number of changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure every business can take advantage of the program.  Most importantly, SBA created a window between February 24 and March 10 in which it will only accept applications from businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees.  Financial institutions might still work with larger businesses to complete paperwork but will not be able to submit until March 11.  Please contact your lender for more information.  In addition to the window of exclusivity for very small businesses, SBA is preparing the following changes to regulation to allow greater participation:

  • Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
  • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal
  • Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP; and
  • Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.

More information here.

Shuttered Venue Grant Program
While the Shuttered Venue Grant Program is still not open for applications, the SBA has updated its Frequently Asked Questions resource. Read it here. Importantly, all applicants must be registered on the federal System for Award Management (SAM.gov) platform. This is a step that can (and should) be taken now to save you time once applications are open. SBA has put together a 15 minute video tutorial on the SAM platform. Watch it here.

Comparison of SBA Programs
SBA has put together a matrix that compares the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) eligibility. This matrix is designed to help you decide what is best for your small business. Check it out here.

COVID-19 Update: February 4, 2021

FAQ on Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
While applications are not yet being accepted for the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, the Small Business Administration has posted a Frequently Asked Questions document that provides more information on eligibility and use of funds. The document can be accessed here.

FAQ for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Released
The SBA released the Targeted EIDL Advance Frequently Asked Questions document which highlights the program and eligibility requirements. The Targeted EIDL Advance will provide grants up to $10,000 to two priority groups, in this order:

  1. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that received a previous EIDL Advance in an amount less than $10,000.
  2. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that applied for EIDL assistance before December 27, 2020 but did not receive an EIDL Advance because available funding was exhausted in mid-July 2020.

The federal bill that created this program further limits these two priority groups to businesses that are located in low-income census tracts. More information on that aspect is forthcoming. Applicants must wait until they receive an email invite from the SBA to apply for the new Targeted EIDL Advance.

Enhanced Employee Retention Credit
The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was the latest effort by Congress to provide stimulus and relief to individuals, businesses, healthcare providers and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the significant opportunities in the CAA is an enhancement of the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), which was introduced in the CARES Act. The CAA made several changes to the ERC, most of which are beneficial for businesses and employers. An article in Peoria Magazines recently outlined the ERC and how it might be of benefit to local businesses. Read it here.

USDA Temporarily Suspends Debt Collections, Foreclosures, and Other Activities on Farm Loans
Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). More here.

COVID-19 Update: January 25, 2021

Region 2 Moves to Phase 4
The Illinois Department of Public Health has stated that Region 2, which includes Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Fulton counties, has progressed to Phase 4, effective immediately. (Region 3 remains in Phase 4.) Full regulations for Phase 4 can be found here. From the IDPH press release here is a high-level summary of Phase 4:


  • Indoor dining and drinking now permitted for parties of up to 10 people
  • Seated areas should be arranged so that tables allow for 6 feet between parties; impermeable barriers may be installed between booths which are less than 6 feet apart


  • Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy


  • Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy


  • Reopening select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks); indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks should remain closed
  • Indoor recreation to operate at lesser of 50 customers or 50% of facility capacity


  • Capacity limit of no more than 25% occupancy
  • Guided tours should be limited to 50 or fewer people per group


  • Limit to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of room capacity
  • Multiple groups may meet in the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms
COVID-19 Update: January 21, 2021

Shuttered Venues Operators Grant Program Webinar
Are you a theatrical producer, talent representative, venue promoter or do you operate a live venue, live performing arts organization, movie house or cultural institution? You may be eligible to apply for the upcoming Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. Watch a replay of the event here to learn about the program, who can apply, and how to prepare for the application.

Community Invited to Take Survey on Vaccine Readiness
In order to learn more about residents’ motivation to receive, or not receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Peoria City/County Health Department has developed a short survey that we invite community members to take. The results of the survey will help them better understand concerns, target messaging, and educational outreach to populations that may want more information on the vaccines as they become more readily available. Please take the COVID-19 Vaccine Readiness Survey and distribute to members of your organization, colleagues, and those whom you provide direct services. You can also forward to friends and family members for participation. The online survey in English is available here.  The online survey in Spanish is available here.

COVID-19 Update: January 15, 2021

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible business include: Live venue operators or promoters; theatrical producers; live performing arts organization operators; relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria; motion picture theater operators; and talent representatives. SBA is still finalizing application details and deadlines. Learn more here.

COVID-19 Update: January 11, 2021

Vaccines for Healthcare Professionals
All healthcare personnel are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (Vaccine “Tier 1A”). If you have not already done so, please contact the Peoria, Tazewell, or Woodford County Health Department of your choice to schedule an appointment. If your organization has already contacted a health department, you do not need to call/email again.

If you are not in the Tier 1A healthcare worker group, do not email or call at this time. Due to high volumes, you may not receive any response. Instead, please continue to follow social media pages and the health departments’ websites for information on when eligibility is expanded past 1A.

Once Illinois makes substantial progress in Phase 1A and federal vaccine deliveries increase, Phase 1B will include frontline essential workers and residents age 65 and over. The frontline essential workers include first responders, education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections workers and inmates, USPS workers, public transit workers, grocery store workers and staff at shelters and day cares. To provide more equitable vaccine access to elder populations given data showing people of color die of COVID-19 at younger ages, Illinois also lowered the age eligibility by 10 years, from age 75 to age 65. Illinois has 1.3 million people who qualify as “frontline essential workers” and 1.9 million adults age 65 and over, totaling 3.2 million eligible Illinoisans.

COVID-19 Update: December 22

Congress Passes $900B Stimulus Bill
Both houses of Congress have approved a $900 billion stimulus package. President Trump is expected to sign the bill today.  The Tax Foundation has a recap here. Below is a brief summary of the key business related portions of the package:

  • PPP loans: $284 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. Businesses who received a PPP in the first round are eligible to apply a second time. (See more information below.)
  • EIDL: $20 billion allocated to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for “advances” (grants that do not need to be repaid) of up to $10,000 per applicant ($1,000 per employee).
  • Employee Retention Credit: Increases from $5,000 to $14,000 per employee for wages from January 1 to June 30, 2021 for companies with fewer than 500 employees. ERC extended six-month through June 30, 2021. Companies that received PPP payments are now eligible to apply for Employee Retention Credits. Previously, receipt of PPP funds disqualified a business from receiving ERCs.
  • Direct payments: $600 direct payment checks for every adult and child earning up to $75,000. Individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 would get smaller checks, and the benefit cuts out entirely for individuals earning over $99,000.
  • Unemployment benefits: Unemployed individuals will receive an additional $300 per week through mid-March. This includes people who are self-employed.
  • Rental assistance: $25 billion to help families pay rent; eviction moratorium extends to January 31, 2021.
  • Business Meals Deduction: Expansion of the tax deduction for business meals to 100% for 2021 and 2022.

US Chamber of Commerce Guide to Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Loans
The US Chamber of Commerce has updated its guidance regarding PPP based on the new legislation. You can find that guidance here.

COVID-19 Update: November 30

Illinois COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan
From IMA: Illinois is now planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and recently the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released this draft Mass Vaccination Planning Guide. IDPH’s draft plan for distribution identifies initial populations prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, including the following:

  • Critical workforce members who provide health care
  • Staff and residents in long term care facilities
  • Critical workforce members who provide essential functions of society

Having identified these populations, the State will then follow CDC guidance, which calls for three phases for vaccination, identified as the following:

  • Phase 1-A: Illinois will vaccinate paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home. After those working in health care settings are vaccinated, first responders (i.e. police and fire) will be vaccinated.
  • Phase 1-B: other essential workers and persons at higher risks of severe COVID-19 illness, including persons 65 years of age and older will be vaccinated.
  • Phase 2: critical populations, as defined by CDC and ACIP, will be vaccinated.
  • Phase 3: vaccines will be available to the general population.

For the definition of critical workforce, the state guide uses the federal guidance definition found here; as well as, guidance from the Illinois State Police / Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC).  An executive summary of the CDC’s plan for Illinois 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 Open To All PPP Lenders

The SBA opened the Paycheck Protection Program to all participating lenders earlier this week. Eligible small businesses can apply for a First or Second Draw PPP loan. First Draw loans are available to qualified small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Second Draw loans are available to qualified small businesses with fewer than 300 employees who can also demonstrate at least a 25% in revenues between similar quarters in 2019 and 2020. For both First and Second Draws, the loan amount is equal to 2.5x the average monthly payroll (3.5x for those in the hospitality business) and is borrowed for 5 years at 1%. Loans can be fully forgiven if proceeds are spent on eligible costs such as payroll. Businesses are encouraged to contact their financial institution or find a qualified lender through SBA’s lender match website.  More program details here.

Paycheck Protection Summary

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley University (SBDC) has an excellent summary of the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • PPP Funding Levels: Loans (which would be forgivable if used for allowable expenses) will be 2.5 times average monthly payroll. Restaurants and accommodation (lodging) businesses receive 3.5 times average monthly payroll.
  • More Flexibility in Allowable Forgivable Expenses: The new PPP has even more flexibility than the 2019 PPP program. Prior allowable expenses remain: payroll, utilities, rent, and mortgage interest. New eligible use of funds includes:
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) and adaptive investments to help small business owners comply with health and safety guidelines;
  • Operations expenditures for payments on software and other items for human resources and accounting needs;
  • Supplier costs that are essential to business operations, including perishable goods; and
  • Property damage caused by public disturbances that aren’t otherwise covered by insurance.
  • Easy Loan Forgiveness: for loans up to $150,000, the forgiveness application is a single page certification with only essential information. Borrowers receive full loan forgiveness if they spend at least 60% of their PPP on payroll costs over a time period of their choosing between 8 weeks and 24 weeks.
  • Second Draw PPP: Businesses that received a PPP loan in 2019 may apply for a second PPP if they have less than 300 employees and have revenue reduced by at least 25 percent. (This is called Second Draw PPP.) Maximum amount is $2 million.
  • Priority Consideration: is provided for specific businesses including minority- and women-owned businesses. Specific funding has been set-aside exclusively for first-time PPP applicants with 10 or fewer employees.
  • Deadline to Apply: The deadline for PPP2 is March 31, 2021.
  • Sole Proprietors May Apply: The PPP does allow a sole proprietor with no employees to apply if their business showed a net profit on their Schedule C.
More on PPP

Over the next few days more information will be made available on the PPP program, likely the most relevant program to the business community. The Journal of Accountancy has a good summary of key points here. Borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs in the year prior to the loan or the calendar year with a maximum loan is $2 million (down from $10 million). Restaurants and hotels (with NAICS codes starting with 72) can get up to 3.5 times their average monthly payroll costs but still only up to $2 million. Other key information from that article includes:

  • Previous PPP recipients can apply for a second loan provided they have 300 or fewer employees; have used the proceeds of their first loan; and can show a 25% gross revenue decline in any 2020 quarter compared to that same quarter in 2019.
  • Nonprofit organizations with a 501c6 designation are now allowed to apply.
  • First time PPP loans will be provided to applicants including Businesses with 500 or fewer employees that are eligible for other SBA 7(a) loans; sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed individuals; not-for-profits, including churches; accommodation and food services operations with fewer than 300 employees per physical location.
  • To be eligible for full loan forgiveness, borrowers will have to spend no less than 60% of the funds on payroll over a covered period of either 8 or 24 weeks.
  • Loans will be forgiven if proceeds are used to pay eligible costs of payroll, rent, covered mortgage interest, and utilities. This new round expands beyond these to include other forgivable costs, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and facility modifications to deal with COVID.
  • There will be a simplified forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
Paycheck Protection Program Portal Open Again

The U.S. Small Business Administration opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA. More information here.

Treasury Announcement on 2020 Deductions Related to PPP Loan Funds

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance clarifying the tax treatment of expenses where a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan has not been forgiven by the end of the year the loan was received. The IRS recently issued Revenue Ruling 2020-27 and Revenue Procedure 2020-51 that provide guidance on the disallowance of deduction of eligible costs incurred during 2020 that were paid using proceeds from a loan guaranteed under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In Revenue Ruling 2020-27, the IRS has determined that if a PPP borrower “reasonably expects” to have the PPP loan forgiven, the PPP borrower may not deduct eligible expenses in its 2020 taxable year. In Revenue Procedure 2020-51, the IRS provides a safe harbor allowing a PPP borrower to claim a deduction on its 2020 tax return related to these otherwise non-deducted eligible expenses if: (1) the PPP borrower’s request for forgiveness is denied in whole or in part, or, (2) the PPP borrower decides not to request forgiveness of its PPP loan.

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness

On August 4 the SBA published additional guidance regarding the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The new FAQs clarify previous SBA guidance, provisions of the CARES Act and the PPP loan forgiveness application. Read the guidance here and a summary here.

Simpler Loan Forgiveness Application for PPP

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to America’s smallest businesses while also ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Click here to view the instructions for completing the simpler loan forgiveness application. Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application. Businesses should consult with their lender partner regarding this or any forgiveness process.

PPP Advice

From Jonathan Williams at Commerce Bank: While the Small Business Administration (SBA) opened the portal for loan forgiveness on August 10, the process is very manual. Many banks are establishing automated ways to communicate with SBA to streamline the forgiveness process and make the customer experience significantly better.  Second, many banks are suggesting that customers wait to apply for loan forgiveness until Congress has finalized a few provisions, one which would allow all loans under $150,000 to be forgiven with very limited effort.

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.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Still Available

Small businesses, private non-profits and agricultural businesses impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, can still apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). EIDL proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation to health care benefits, rent, utilities and fixed debt payments. Learn more here.

SBA Extends Application Deadline for EIDL Loans Until December 31, 2021 

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the COVID-19 Pandemic disaster declaration is extended to Dec. 31, 2021.   EIDL loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending the availability of funds. Loans are offered at very affordable terms, with a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for nonprofit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. Every eligible small business and nonprofit are encouraged to apply to get the resources they need.  Click here for more information.

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.

SBA Tools for Rural Businesses

Small businesses in rural areas may lack access to capital and other resources available in more urban areas. SBA’s Rural Strong initiative aims to level the playing field and elevate small businesses by offering loan incentives and training entrepreneurs to access government contracting and export opportunities. Learn more about SBA resources for rural businesses, including:

  • Funding resources
  • Export assistance
  • Opportunity Zones and HUBZones

More information here.

Developing an Effective Business Continuity Plan for Your Small Business

From Bradley’s Small Business Development Center: Applications are currently being accepted for funding the development of a small business continuity plan. The COVID-19 health pandemic has had a tremendous impact on small businesses and disrupted their normal business operations. Companies without a business continuity plan were forced to adjust to changing conditions with little advanced planning. The goal of a business continuity plan is to identify key issues that would affect a business in the case of a disruption and bring all the needed information in one location. Under the CARES Act, funding is available to support the costs of assisting small businesses in Central Illinois in the process of developing a Business Continuity Plan.  If you have an interest in receiving financial support to develop your Business Continuity Plan, the first step is to watch this webinar where the importance of such a plan is discussed, and how the CARES Act funding may be used. Questions can be directed to SBDCcovid@bradley.edu.

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).

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.

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.

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.
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:

Reopening Illinois

Illinois Announces Relief from Some COVID Restrictions

On Friday, Governor Pritzker announced the lifting of some restrictions imposed on businesses to mitigate the spread of COVID.  Since November 20, all of Illinois has been in “Tier 3 Mitigation,” the strictest set of regulations.  With an improvement in positivity rates and an increase in vaccination, a few Illinois regions will be allowed to move to Tier 2 today (January 15). This includes Region 2 which includes Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties. Region 3 (Mason, Logan and Fulton) is still in Tier 3 but is predicted to move to Tier 2 by the end of the weekend.

Below is a brief summary of the major changes for businesses in Tier 2:

  • Bars and restaurants: No change (no indoor dining)
  • Cultural/Entertainment (museums, theaters, bowling alleys, etc.): May now open with precautions
  • Gaming: May now operate with precautions
  • Hotels: No change
  • Gatherings: Limit of 10 people
  • Fitness: Indoor classes now allowed, max 10 people
  • Organized recreation: Limit to lesser of 25 participants or 25% capacity

The governor also announced that limited indoor dining would be allowed in Tier 1 and that Region 2 (Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties) are projected to be in Tier 1 by Sunday, January 17.  Below is a summary of the major differences between Tier 1 and Tier 2:

  • Bars and restaurants: indoor dining allowed; limited to 25 persons per room or 25% of occupancy; maximum table size of 4; no indoor service if not serving food
  • Hotels: Open under Phase 4 guidelines
  • Fitness: Open under Phase 4 guidelines
  • Gatherings: 25 people or 25% of overall capacity
  • Organized recreation: Allowed under Phase 4 guidelines

In order to move from Tier 3 to Tier 2, a region must have a test positivity 7-day rolling average rate below 12% for three consecutive days plus meet hospital capacity goals. To move from Tier 2 to Tier 1, a region must maintain a test positivity rate of less than 8% for three consecutive days (plus hospital capacity metrics). To move back into Phase 4, the test positivity rate must be below 6.5% for three consecutive days.  More information regulations by Tier can be found here.  You can monitor regional health metrics here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Travel Guidance

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) launched its new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel map to help inform residents of potential risks associated with traveling during the pandemic. The map indicates countries and U.S. states with increased risk of COVID-19 based on case rates. Locations that have an average daily case rate of 15 cases per 100,000 or greater are designated as “higher risk” on the map, which can be found here http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/travel.

Local Resources


The City of Peoria is offering businesses included within the city limits flexible, low interest loans to help with recovery. Their the Business Capacity Conversion (BCC) and Business to Landlord (B2L) “standardized” loan products are designed with key features that include:

  • Standardized Loans ($5,000 to $50,000)
  • Low Interest (as low as 0%)
  • Extended Repayment Plans (up to 3 times asset life)
  • Deferment of Initial Payment (up to 12 months)
  • Flexible Terms (based on capacity)

The loans allow for adapting loan payments in step with a business’ capacity to pay.  Both the BCC and B2L Loans have convertible features so loan payments can be adjusted midstream, to meet the changing revenue potential of your business. Should funds beyond $50,000 be needed, the City would explore an “Individualized” loan up to $250,000 under separate loan terms. More details here.

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.
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 Lost Wages Assistance Program

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that payments under the Lost Wages Assistance program have started. The first three weeks of benefits have been secured and IDES has applied for funding for week 4. In an effort to continue the funding for weeks to come, the Department is working on applications for additional weeks of funding. Under the Lost Wages Assistance Program, authorized by President Donald Trump through an executive order , certain individuals unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive an additional $300 per week to their weekly benefit amount (WBA).

In addition to announcing the release of funds through the program, the Department also provided this FAQ that provides important information and answers questions on the program, how long it lasts and who it applies to.

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.
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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Payroll Tax Deferral

In August, President Trump signed an Executive Order that would allow businesses to defer the payment of Social Security payroll roll taxes of most employees between September 1 and the end of 2020. This is a complicated issue with a number of open questions that have yet to be clarified by the IRS.  Importantly, this is a deferral of payroll taxes. Without Congressional action at some future date, the taxes withheld now will need to be repaid between January and April 2021. The IRS has issued guidance here. Employers should consult with their accountants, auditors and/or attorneys before proceeding.  Below is an excellent summary from our partners at the Illinois Manufacturers Association:

The President’s federal payroll tax deferral program created through an Executive Order starts today and ends on December 31, 2020. During this time period, employers may choose to delay the withholding, deposit, and payment of the contribution of Social Security taxes (6.2 percent) from an employee’s paycheck. Here are some key points:

What is the maximum wage limitation: As defined, the maximum wage is $4,000 in bi-weekly wages or compensation on a pre-tax basis or equivalent amounts for other pay periods ($104,000 annualized). Health care and retirement benefits are not included in the definition of compensation.

Are employers mandated to participate: Neither the President’s Executive Order nor the IRS guidance requires participation. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has publicly stated that they “can’t force people to participate.” The IRS guidance does not allow employees to choose and option – the choice appears left to the employer.

When are taxes due: If an employer opts to utilize the deferral between September 1 and December 30, 2020, those taxes must be paid by April 30, 2021. If the taxes are not paid by that date, penalties and interest apply.

What is the impact on an employee’s paycheck: An employee will see increased take home pay between September 1 and December 30, 2020, followed by higher taxes paid in the first four months of 2021.

To defer or not to defer: If the employer does choose to defer withholding the payroll tax during the time period specified in the order (September 1st – December 31st, 2020), then the employer must later withhold the deferred amount “ratably” from wages and compensation paid between January 1 – April 30, 2020, or interest, penalties, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021.

The Guidance does not discuss what an employer must do if an employee does not have sufficient wages in the first four months of 2021 (i.e. the employee took a leave of absence or terminated employment) to accomplish the required deductions from the previously deferred tax. All the Guidance says is, “If necessary, the [employer] may make arrangements to otherwise collect the total Applicable Taxes from the employee.”

If an employer chooses not to defer withholding the employee portion of the payroll tax, then the employer is required to withhold the tax and deposit it with the Treasury.

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.


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.

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund Launched

The Illinois Restaurant Association has launched a relief fund to help struggling restaurant workers that qualify with one-time $500 grants. To qualify for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, you must have either: been diagnosed with COVID-19, served as a caregiver for an immediate family member who had COVID-19, or quarantined with a doctor’s note; or been out of work for three weeks or more without unemployment benefits. More information 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.

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.

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. 

Ameren Small Business Energy Saving Incentives

Ameren is offering a number of incentives for small businesses to save money through energy efficiency. They have recently added a refrigeration incentive that is targeted at Restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other similar businesses. The new refrigeration incentives include the following upgrades for walk-in/reach-in coolers and freezers: efficient motors, evaporator fan controls, anti-sweat heater controls, and door closers.For more information and to schedule a FREE assessment, please visit AmerenIllinoisSavings.com/SmallBusiness.

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.

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.

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!


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