COVID Business Aid Still Available

COVID Business Aid Still Available

While last year’s flurry of activity around PPP loans and other emergency aid has died down, recent updates have introduced new grant programs along with expansions of existing options. Representatives of the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development will share tips on taking advantage of business assistance on a Zoom call with Chamber members on October 13.

The Illinois Back to Business Grants announced this summer offer $250M in funding opportunities for small businesses, hard-hit industries, and disproportionately impacted businesses. Grants will range from $5,000 to $150,000 per business (up to $250,000 for hotels) and can be used to cover a wide range of operation costs. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until October 13 on the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Cook County also offers one-on-one assistance with completing Back to Business applications.

In addition to the state Back to Business program, the federal SBA announced in September that it is extending the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) cap from $500,000 to $2 million. These low-interest, fixed-rate loans can be used for operating expenses and to pay business debt incurred at any time. In addition to increasing the cap, the SBA will also implement a deferred payment period, establish a 30-day exclusivity window, expand eligible use of funds, and simplify the affiliation requirements.

Another federal benefit that has been extended past its original limits is the Employee Retention Credit. Created as part of the original 2020 CARES Act to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll, this tax credit’s availability has since been extended through the end of 2021. Eligible employers — those who experienced a mandatory shutdown or had gross receipts for any quarter that are less than 80% of its receipts for the same quarter in 2019 — can receive a tax credit of 70 percent of the first $10,000 of qualified wages paid per employee in each qualifying quarter, up to $28,000 per employee.

Looking for guidance to navigate these options?

Join us for a free Zoom call with the County’s Bureau of Economic Development and Commissioner Scott Britton on October 13!

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