Covid-19 Resources: Small Business

State Emergency Resources for Businesses
More than $90 Million in Emergency Assistance is available for Illinois small businesses. Information about these grants and loans as well as federal emergency resources for businesses and communities can be found on the DCEO covid-19 resources webpage on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development website.


Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
This $60 million fund will support low-interest loans of up to $50,000 for small businesses in every industry. DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are partnering with Accion, the Illinois Bankers Association and the Community Bankers Association of Illinois to create this fund. Loans will be supported by a $30 million loan loss reserve, consisting of $20 million of DCEO funds and $10 million in funds secured with the partnership with the Illinois banking community.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at 3% interest for the remainder of a five-year loan term.

Applications are available on DCEO’s website.


Downstate/Suburban Small Business Stabilization Program
This new $20 million program supports small businesses in suburban and rural counties across Illinois, providing grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses in communities served by DCEO’s Office of Community Development.

These grants will offer businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. The program redeploys Community Development Block Grant funds to support local small businesses.

Applications will be available on DCEO’s website. The grants will be offered on a rolling basis.


Illinois Treasurer’s Office “Bridge Loans”
Treasurer Mike Frerichs office is implementing a “bridge loan” program with $250 million available to banks and credit unions. The program’s aim is to support small businesses, non-profits, and faith-based organizations.

Eligible Illinois businesses or nonprofits must be headquartered in Illinois and have been shut down because of COVID-19. Applicants are required to have less than $1 million in liquid assets or $8 million average annual receipts (per SBA standards).

Click here to learn more about these loans and call your financial institution to see if they are participating in this program.


State Emergency Resources for Illinois Nonprofits
Currently, two different COVID-19 grant programs have been launched for non-profits in Illinois. The Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund will support local nonprofits by providing them with grants so they can continue to serve the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund will provide grants to nonprofits and local community foundations across the state.

Nonprofits must apply for funding under both programs, and grants may be announced in multiple rounds. Nonprofits can also apply for the SBA Disaster Loan. For additional information on this loan program, please visit the SBA Disaster Loan website at


Federal Resources for Small Businesses

The Small Business Owner Guide to the CARES Act (from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship) contains frequently asked questions for each of the programs established or enhanced to support small businesses.


Payroll Protection Program
Paycheck Protection Program Loans are designed to help small businesses maintain payroll in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses who enroll in the program will receive a forgivable loan to use for payroll purposes, in addition to helping pay for utilities, rent, mortgage interest payments, and more.

The US Chamber of Commerce has assembled a guide for applying under the Payroll Protection Program.

Additional Resources: The Small Business Administration has distributed additional guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how the Paycheck Protection Program is going to be implemented and what both lenders and borrowers need to know.

Details are included in the links below:
General Program Overview for the Paycheck Protection Program
PPP: Information for Lenders
PPP: Information for Borrowers
Sample Paycheck Protection Program Application
Small Business Administration’s PPP Page

Key Dates: The start date for small businesses and sole proprietorships to submit PPP loan applications is April 3, 2020. The start date for independent contractors and self-employed individuals to submit PPP loan applications is April 10, 2020. Importantly, the U.S. Treasury Department guidance urges businesses to apply as soon as possible, due to a funding cap in place on this program.

Lender Information: PPP loans will be 100% federally guaranteed but handled by SBA-certified lenders. Lending institutions that are not currently SBA-certified but want to participate should email

Application Information: Interested parties should contact their local lender to see if they are SBA-certified and/or planning on participating in the program. Applicants will have to provide payroll documentation to the lender.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program received significant funding in the Families First Act, which was the 2nd COVID-19 stimulus package. These SBA loans provide small businesses with a long-term, low interest loan of up to $2 million to pay for expenses they would have met but for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note that these are loans, not grants, although refinancing an EIDL into a PPP Loan is a possibility, provided you used the fund for the proper purpose. Additionally, applicants can apply for both EIDL and PPP loans simultaneously, although the funds cannot be used for the same purpose.

Application Process: The SBA has just recently rolled out a new, streamlined application process that is available here. Note: if your business needs short term assistance, and you applied before this week, you may need to re-submit your application (see below).

If you have already applied for funds through EIDL and do not need the $10,000 advance, your application should continue to be processed without additional steps. You may check on the status of your application by calling 800-659-2955.


Emergency Economic Injury Grants (advance on EIDL loans)
Businesses that need an infusion of capital in the short term and who have applied for a loan through the EIDL program can also apply for an Emergency Economic Injury Grant, which will provide an advance of $10,000 from the requested EIDL amount. This process can be started from the EIDL application available here.

Importantly, if you already submitted an EIDL application prior to the launch of this program, you will have to re-submit an application using the streamlined process at the link above.

Small Business Debt Relief Program
The Small Business Administration is providing a program to assist small businesses who have non-disaster SBA loans – namely 7(a) loans, 504 loans, and microloans. This program will apply to pre-existing loans in these categories, in addition to new borrowers who take out these loans within six months of the CARES Act becoming law.

Loan Program Details: Please see the below links if you think that your business could benefit from these options:

  1. 7(a) Loan Program Information
    7(a) loans max out at $5 million are targeted towards borrowers who lack credit elsewhere and need access to flexible capital. These loans are offered through approved 7(a) lenders (a list is available here)
  2. 504 Loan Program Information
    504 Loans max out at $5.5 million and provide long-term fixed-rate financing and may be a good option for businesses looking to purchase property or large equipment
  3. SBA Microloan Program Information
    The SBA’s microloan program offers loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses start up or expand.

Employee Retention Tax Credit
The CARES Act includes a Employee Retention Tax Credit designed to encourage employers to retain their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The IRS describes the credit as a “fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses) that Eligible Employers pay their employees. This applies to wages paid between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021, with a maximum credit for any employee amounting to $5,000. Additional IRS guidance is available here.

Key Caveat: This credit is not available to employers receiving assistance via the Paycheck Protection Program.

Employer Payroll Tax Deferral
According to the Guide, a provision in the CARES Act allows for the deferral of the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020. These deferred amounts are due in two installments – one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Included deferrable taxes include the employer portion of FICA taxes and half of SECA tax liability. For additional information, visit the IRS coronavirus webpage.

Key Caveat: Deferral is not available to employers receiving assistance via the Paycheck Protection Program.

Business Counseling (+ Assistance with Applications)
In addition to direct financial assistance to small businesses and nonprofits, the recent stimulus packages have included significant funding for enhanced small business counseling services to help small businesses navigate these challenging times.

Counseling resources include:

  1. Illinois Small Business Development Center at West Side Forward Contact is Curtis Roeschley, 773-473-4774 /
  2. Women’s Business Development Center
    312-853-3477 / / contact for loan assistance: Lotika Pai, In addition to serving women entrepreneurs, the Women’s Business Development Center is mandated to serve the needs of underserved entrepreneurs, including low-income entrepreneurs.
  3. Minority Business Development Agency Business Center 312-755-2563
  4. Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity