COVID-19 Business Updates

Below are several updates on important issues to our business community:

Illinois Liquor Commission

There have been several updates from the Illinois Liquor Commission in regards to COVID-19. 

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has issued Executive Order 2020-07 ordering the suspension of all on-premises sales of food and beverages.

  • The Illinois Liquor Control Commission is authorizing the return of Beer sold and delivered to a retailer on or before March 23, 2020 only. No returns shall be authorized (other than through normal legal channels) for retailer Beer purchases made after March 23, 2020. You can find the full guidance on product returns from the Illinois Liquor Commission here.
  • If a retailer is placed on the Delinquency List, the Illinois Liquor Control Act (“Act”) authorizes the retailer to file a “bona fide dispute” with the State Commission. Once the bona fide dispute is filed with the Commission, the Act and State Commission Rules require the removal of the retailer from the Delinquency List while Chairman or Executive Director of the State Commission makes a determination of delinquency or non-delinquency. You can find more details on the Bone Fide Dispute process here.
  • On March 16, 2020, as a result of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-07, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission issued guidance on whether a license holder authorized to conduct on-premises alcoholic liquor sales only.  In short, only those license holders that are currently authorized for off-premise sales may continue to conduct such sales. You can find the full guidance here.
  • Liquor licenses expire on the last day of each month. Due to the hardships on liquor license holders as a result of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, all licenses expiring on March 31, 2020, April 30, 2020, and May 31, 2020 are extended until July 31, 2020. Unless otherwise directed, all license holders with March, April, and May expiration dates will be required to renew licenses no later than July 31, 2020.  More details on license renewal can be found here.

For additional news and information from the Illinois Liquor Commission, check out their website here.

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

IDFPR recently announced several proactive measures to help professional licensees and educational providers with challenges in light of COVID-19.  Due to the limits of in person courses and reduced contact amongst individuals, IDFPR has provided a series of variances to provide relief for license renewal terms and continuing education requirements.

The five variances can be found here.

  • Any professional licenses that have renewal dates between March 1st and July 31st 2020 are granted an automatic extension to renew to September 30th, 2020.
  • All current licenses under the Department’s jurisdiction whose license renewal dates fall between March 1st and July 31st 2020 shall have up to September 30th 2020 to complete their continuing education requirement.
  • Continuing education coursework can be completed online through interactive webinars.
  • Massage therapy schools can offer online instruction for lecture-based courses.
  • Barber, cosmetology, esthetics, hair, braiding, and nail technology schools can exceed the 10% cap for teaching online theory classes.

A complete list of professional licenses affected by this renewal extension can be found here.

Illinois Department of Human Services

IDHS has provided an updated guidance with information for human services providers.  This guidance includes information for expense-based and fixed rate grants as well as billing fee for service Medicaid.

  • Expense-Based Grants: IDHS will continue to make payments for expense-based grants as normal. 
  • Fixed-Rate Grants:  For fixed-rate grants, please continue to submit billing information. IDHS will make grant payments equal to “average monthly billings x reimbursement rate.” The portion of the grant payment not supported by service billings will need to be expended for costs (e.g. salaries and benefits, facility and administration costs).
  • IDHS Funded Medicaid Fee for Service:  For IDHS funded Medicaid for service providers, please continue to submit billing information. IDHS will make retention payments equal to “average monthly billings x reimbursement rate.”  Retention payments are to be expended for costs (e.g. salaries and benefits, facility and administration costs).

New information and guidance is coming in each day.  IDHS will continue to provide updates as well as FAQs on the IDHS coronavirus website.

Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program

This is an impact investment loan program under which the State Treasurer would make up to $250 million in deposits available to financial institutions throughout the state, at near-zero rates, to assist Illinois small businesses and non-profits negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The purpose of this program is to provide vital economic support to small businesses and non-profits to help overcome the loss of revenue they are experiencing.  Through this program, the Treasurer’s Office would partner with approved financial institutions to provide loans — either lower rate loans, or loans to a business or non-profit that would not otherwise qualify — to Illinois small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More details on this program can be found here.

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are establishing the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses low interest loans of up to $50,000.

Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers 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 a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term.

Starting this Friday, March 27th, interested businesses will be able to express interest at a form that will be posted here.  Below are further details on the program:

Who is eligible?

Small businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 can apply.  Small businesses within the City of Chicago can apply to a similar loan program here.

What can loan funds be used for?

Loans can be used to support working capital.

How do businesses apply?

Businesses will be able to complete an interest form on this web page on Friday, March 27, 2020.

How much money is available?

Businesses can receive up a low interest loan of up to $50,000 with a 5 year repayment period with no payments due for the first six months.

How soon will businesses receive funds?

Eligible businesses will be invited to submit a full application beginning on April 1. Once submitted, we will strive to make a loan decision within 10 days, and make funds available within two days of receiving bank information from a business.

Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, DCEO is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes.  Grant funds are available to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000.  Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.

Who is eligible?

Bars and restaurants with a valid license to serve food or liquor and who generated revenues of less than $1 million in 2019. Hotels with a valid license (hotels, motels other lodging establishments) and who generated revenues of less than $8 million in 2019.

What can grant funds be used for?

For bars and restaurants, based on the businesses needs identified in the grant application, funds can be used to support working capital (rent, payroll, and other accounts payable), job training (such as new practices related to take out, delivery and sanitation) and technology enabling new operations as well as other costs to implement that technology. For hotels, funds can be used as working capital to support the retention of employees.

How do businesses apply?

Businesses can submit an application online here: Landing PageEnglish ApplicationSpanish Application. Applications for awards will be accepted until 5:00pm on April 1st, and winners will be chosen via a lottery, therefore, there is no benefit to submitting an application first as long as a valid, complete application is received by the deadline.

How much money is available?

$14 million is available under this program. 

  • Bars and restaurants that generated less than $500,000 in annual revenue last year will be eligible for up to $10,000. 
  • Bars and restaurants that generated between $500,000 and $1M in annual revenue last year will be eligible for up to $25,000. 
  • Hotels that generated less than $8 million in annual revenue last year will be eligible for up to $50,000. 

How soon will businesses receive funds?

Accion will notify businesses on April 4th if they have received an award. Accion and DCEO are striving to make funds available to awarded businesses within two days of receiving the necessary bank information from an awarded grantee.

Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

This program ONLY applies to businesses in McHenry County in District 65

To support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois, DCEO is repurposing $20 million in CDBG funds to stand up the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program.  This Fund will offer small 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.  These grants will be offered on a rolling basis.

Who is eligible?
Local governments can apply on behalf of businesses with 50 employees or less. Only units of local government recognized by the Illinois Constitution and able to support economic development activities on a sufficient scale are eligible to apply for Economic Development grant funding.  This includes cities, villages, and counties.  Municipalities must not be a HUD direct Entitlement community or be located in an urban county that receives “entitlement” funds.  A map of eligible areas of the state can be accessed here, see “Staff Contact Information.”

Ineligible Communities          
Communities receiving an annual allocation directly from HUD on an entitlement (formula) basis are not eligible to apply for the State’s CDBG funding.  In 2019, Illinois had 33 metropolitan cities and eight urban counties named as Entitlements.  They are:

Urban Counties

  • Cook County
  • DuPage County
  • Kane County
  • Lake County
  • Madison County
  • McHenry County
  • St. Clair County
  • Will County

Metropolitan Cities

  • Arlington Heights
  • Aurora
  • Berwyn
  • Bloomington
  • Champaign
  • Chicago
  • Cicero
  • Danville
  • DeKalb
  • Des Plaines
  • Elgin
  • Evanston
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Joliet
  • Kankakee
  • Moline
  • Mount Prospect
  • Naperville
  • Normal
  • Oak Lawn
  • Oak Park
  • Palatine
  • Pekin
  • Peoria
  • Rantoul
  • Rockford
  • Rock Island
  • Schaumburg
  • Skokie
  • Springfield
  • Urbana
  • Waukegan

What can grants be used for?

Grants can be used to support working capital.

How do businesses apply?

Businesses in the eligible areas should work with their local governments to submit applications.  Application materials will be posted to the DCEO website on Friday, March 27, 2020.

How much money is available?

Grants of up to $25,000 per business will be available.

How soon will businesses receive funds?

DCEO’s goal is to execute grants within 30 days of application receipt, after which funds will be accessible.

Paycheck Protection Program

The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program–part of the CARES Act–is aimed at helping small businesses retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic.

–The Paycheck Protection Program is open to small businesses with less than 500 employees.

–This is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

–The Small Business Administration is overseeing the application process.

–The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

–April 3rd is the first day to apply.

Application is HERE.

UPDATE: Paycheck Protection Program

On May 5th, The Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal agency in charge of administering the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) updated their guidance (through their Frequently Asked Questions document).

The FAQ page is HERE. The response to Question 43 in the FAQ extends the repayment date, to Thursday, May 14th, for organizations to determine whether they believe they are required to repay their loan. As a reminder, this is only for organizations that had applied for a PPP loan prior to April 24, 2020.

In addition, IDHS also has a FAQ page to help with any other questions business owners may have. You can access that page HERE.

IDHS has also provided the following update due to the “current economic uncertainty” :

If your organization is receiving PPP funding, retention payments from IDHS, or both, please be cautious to only use such funds for allowable expenditures, under the PPP rules or the providers’ grant/funding agreements. 

To the extent your PPP funding is used to cover what would otherwise be covered by IDHS retention payments, you must notify IDHS. If your PPP funding does not fully cover the retention payments, IDHS will make payments to ensure full payment over the course of the PPP funding. If this is the case for your organization, IDHS will provide you with a form so you can certify there is no duplication of funds.  

While providers need to make their own, independent determinations as to their eligibility for the PPP, those who are unable to perform, either in whole or in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic should meet the PPP “current economic uncertainty” certification requirements, making their “loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant.” 

IDHS believes the “current economic uncertainty” for providers, IDHS, and the State due to diminishing State revenues supports providers’ eligibility for this federal funding, both to support providers and to maximize limited State funds. 

Providers whose ability to perform has not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e. providers who are able to fully perform and to be paid for that performance) are not required by IDHS to apply but must make their own determination as to whether they choose to do so and are responsible for meeting the PPP’s eligibility and expenditure requirements and limitations.  

FEMA Releases Exercise Starter Kit for Workshop on Reconstituting Operations

FEMA released a kit to help organizations plan for resuming operations during COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The kit includes a fact sheet, sample slides, and a facilitator guide with suggested discussion questions that can be tailored to meet the needs of your organization or agency.

You can access the Exercise Starter Kit here.

UPDATE: IDHS, PPP, ICOY Webinar

IDHS has provided several updates including information on PPP certification requirements, how PPP will be implemented by IDHS, and a webinar opportunity from the Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) regarding the CARES Act. 

For PPP certification requirements, the SBA issued additional guidance as to economic uncertainty for any PPP loan request. That guidance can be found in the SBA’s Frequently Asked Questions document (question #46) and states the following (link here).

Based on the above guidance stating that providers that have “received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith,” IDHS believes the potential repayment obligation is lessened.  As such, IDHS will be moving forward with the PPP process previously laid out wherein any provider whose service delivery has been decreased or eliminated such that they are receiving retention payments, will have those retention payments reduced according to the PPP loan for which the organization has been approved in order to prevent duplicate payment for the same expense. Providers should work with their program staff on the dates of disbursement and any other information that has been requested. 

To be responsive to providers who are not automatically covered by the federal guidance’s safe harbor protections, IDHS remains committed to working with providers on a case-by-case basis such that if a provider, with a loan over $2 million, finds themselves in a situation where their PPP loan is subject to repayment based on the SBA’s review of their certification of need due to economic uncertainty. It will be incumbent on the provider to communicate with IDHS as soon as the repayment decision has been made by SBA in order to make needed payments during the lapse period. 

Lastly, the Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) will host its third webinar on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act, CARES Act Part III: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 Federal Administrative Relief Efforts on Grants & Contracts this Friday, May 15, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. On the webinar, Megan Angle from Porte Brown Accountants and Advisors will discuss a federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo that was issued in March and how it can potentially affect an organization’s grants and contracts. Registration for the webinar can be found by clicking this link.