• 2022-Department of Commerce News

    Northeast Region Weekly Update

    As we close on 2021, all of us at DCEO wish you a happy new year.  We appreciate all that you do to serve your communities and the State of Illinois.  Remember, we’re all in Illinois! 
     
    Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery (RISE) Local and Regional Planning Grant NOFO

    As part of the State’s efforts to boost economic recovery, $25 M has been appropriated to the IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery (RISE) program. In the very near future, DCEO will announce the use of a portion of those funds to initiate the RISE Local and Regional Planning Grant Program.

    Funds from this program will be awarded to local governments, regional economic development organizations, and regional planning organizations to create or update regional plans to accelerate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans created under this program must align with the goals laid out in the state’s 2019 “Plan to Revitalize the Illinois Economy” and outline specific initiatives or investments that would support robust and equitable economic growth during the recovery from the COVID pandemic.

    Plans should address critical local or regional needs and lead to recovery strategies tailored to the strengths and vulnerabilities of the community and/or region.
     
    This grant program is utilizing federal pass-through funds allocated in the American Rescue Plan Act. This will be a competitive funding opportunity and eligible organizations should begin considering strategies and partners to apply.

    DCEO anticipates a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for this program to be posted in January 2022.
     
    Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP)
     
    The Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) provides financial assistance for rent to income-eligible Illinois renters and their landlords who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a renter in Illinois and are behind on rent due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for up to $25,000 and 18 months of emergency rental payments.  Both renters and landlords can apply for assistance.
     
    Applications will be accepted through Sunday, January 9, 2022.  Apply through the website here.
     
    Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (Local CURE)
     
    Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (Local CURE) Support Program Important Update:  For local governments which still have funds available, the Local CURE statute has been updated and now permits costs to be incurred from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021.  Local governments with unclaimed funds under the program should review the program’s list of allowable expenditures located on the Local CURE web page and review the program’s manual in order to make the most of the program’s funds.  Local Governments which still have remaining balances under the Local CURE program can be found on our website here.
     
    Local CURE dollars are from the CARES Act and require that the local government be reimbursed for costs related to mitigating COVID-19, like public safety payroll and public health expenditures.
     
    DCEO is continuing to work with our communities across the state to submit their reimbursable expenses related to COVID-19.  It’s not too late to submit expenses.  The deadline to submit reimbursable costs has been extended to January 31, 2022.    DCEO has posted information on our website here.  The website also has some good Q&A documents that can help with determining if an expense is eligible for reimbursement.  We will continue to provide updates as information comes available.  Please reach out if you have questions.   If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  You can also reach out to our partner at  LocalCURE@crowe.com.  
     
    Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
     
    The SBA’s EIDL program will be closing at the end of this calendar year.  While this program has been open for several months, time is running short for businesses to consider this opportunity for assistance.  The purpose of EIDL is for small businesses to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.  Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, and agricultural businesses in all U.S. states and territories can apply. Visit www.sba.gov/eidl to learn more about eligibility and application requirements as well as to apply for the program.  Please reach out if you have any questions on this program.
     
    The SBA has provided updated guidance for this program including target dates for applications this month.

    • EIDL loan and Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31 and will continue to be processed after this date until funds are exhausted.
    • Supplemental Targeted Advance applications will be accepted until December 31; however, the SBA may be unable to process some Supplemental Targeted Advance applications submitted near the December 31 deadline due to legal requirements. The SBA cannot continue to process Supplemental Targeted Advance applications after December 31 and strongly encourages eligible small businesses to apply by December 10 to ensure adequate processing time.
    • Borrowers can request increases up to their maximum eligible loan amount for up to two years after their loan origination date, or until the funds are exhausted, whichever is soonest.
    • The SBA will accept and review reconsideration and appeal requests for COVID EIDL applications received on or before December 31 if the reconsideration/appeal is received within the timeframes in the regulation. This means six months from the date of decline for reconsiderations and 30 days from the date of reconsideration decline for appeals – unless funding is no longer available.

    Employee Retention Credit

    Tax Incentives for 2021 are available for small businesses affected by COVID-related shutdowns and disruptions.   For 2021, the employee retention credit (ERC) is a quarterly tax credit against the employer’s share of certain payroll taxes. The tax credit is 70% of the first $10,000 in wages per employee in quarters 1, 2 and 3 of 2021. That means this credit is worth up to $7,000 per quarter and up to $21,000 per year, for each employee. If the amount of the tax credit for an employer is more than the amount of the employer’s share of those payroll taxes owed for a given quarter, the excess is refunded – paid – directly to them.

    These credits may deliver cash flow for your business as soon as you claim the.  You can file for this credit for Quarter 1, 2 and 3 of 2021 on your form 941 filing and may also receive an advance payment of a portion of the credit. 

    ·500 or fewer employees

    ·If you have received PPP you can still claim the tax credit

    ·Credits up to $21,000 per employee (was $28,000, see bullet below)*

    ·For 2021, the employee retention credit (ERC) is a quarterly tax credit against the employer’s share of certain payroll taxes. The tax credit is 70% of the first $10,000 in wages per employee in each of the first 3 quarters of 2021. That means this credit is worth up to $7,000 per quarter and up to $21,000 per year, for each employee. If the amount of the tax credit for an employer is more than the amount of the employer’s share of those payroll taxes owed for a given quarter, the excess is refunded – paid – directly to them.

    ·President Biden’s signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on November 15, 2021, retroactively eliminates an employer’s ability to claim employee retention credits (ERC) for eligible wages paid after September 30, 2021. This means the maximum ERC per employee available to an eligible employer in the tax-year 2021 is $21,000, not $28,000.

    ·Eligible employers that have not yet claimed (or incorrectly claimed) any ERC for qualified wages paid between March 13, 2020, through and including September 30, 2021, may still obtain the ERC by amending their quarterly employment tax returns, i.e., Forms 941-X, Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund.

    Here is a quick factsheet from the Dept of Treasury however it has not been updated to reflect the elimination of the tax credit in the 4th Quarter of 2021

    https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/ERC-COVID-Snapshot-5.7.21_full-text.pdf

    Statewide Black Business Survey
     
    Calling all Illinois Black business owners!  To help strengthen the programs and resources offered through DCEO, we have launched the first Black Business Survey designed to gain perspective directly from business owners across the state.  Together with our partners at Chicago State University and the Chicago Urban League we want to hear about ongoing challenges, pandemic resources that have helped, and how to improve future resource allocation, outreach and deliver business-related programs and services.  It's easy, confidential and will help us shape future initiatives.  Take the survey or view the FAQ's
     
    Back to Business Grant Program
     
    The application portal has now closed for this program.  DCEO is continuing to review the applications that have been received and making awards.  Awards will continue to be awarded on a rolling basis.  All the information on this program can be found on our website here
     
    American Rescue Plan Funds (ARPA) for Non-entitlement Units (NEU) of Local Government – Program Updates
     
    While the portal is now closed for NEUs claiming their funds, DCEO will continue to post updates on our website regarding this program.   NEUs should also keep an eye on the Treasury’s webpage for this program.  The first reporting deadline for Non-Entitlement Units (NEUs) is now April 30, 2022.
     
    Our NEU Support Team will resume office hours on a bi-weekly basis on January 10, 2022.
     
    NEU technical assistance can be found on the DCEO website: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/CURENEU/Pages/TechnicalAssistance.aspx
     
    Rebuild Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Grant
     
     Governor JB Pritzker and DCEO have announced a new $50 million capital program designed to bring forward investments to revitalize commercial corridors and main street areas statewide.  The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) can be found on DCEO’s website.  Community organizations, local governments, and private developers are among the list of eligible parties encouraged to apply for funding. Projects will be prioritized based on location in a disproportionately impacted area (DIA) or rural area; alignment with local or regional economic development plans; and demonstrates community support.
     
    Private businesses and private non-profit organizations must provide matching cash funds of at least 50% of the project cost for their project to be eligible for this grant opportunity. This match can come from the applicant’s own resources, other private funds, or through grants from foundations or units of government (excluding the State of Illinois). Any in-kind matching does not count towards the 50% minimum. Units of local government are not required to provide matching funds but including matching funds may improve the chances of receiving an award. If a municipality is applying on behalf of the project(s) that is (are) construction or renovation of property owned by a private business or organization, the 50% matching requirement will apply to the entire grant.
     
    All projects must adhere to participation requirements of the State of Illinois' Business Enterprise Program (BEP), designed to ensure that state-funded contracting opportunities benefit a diverse set of contractors.  The deadline to apply for Main Street and Downstate Capital grants is January 10, 2022.
     
     
    USDA’s Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program
     
    USDA’s Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program offers grant assistance to create and augment high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses, support industry clusters and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas. Funds may be used to build or support a business incubator facility; provide worker training to assist in the creation of new jobs; train the existing workforce with skills for higher-paying jobs; and develop a base of skilled workers and improve their opportunities to obtain high-wage jobs in new or existing local industries. The RISE project must serve a rural region small enough to allow close collaboration among partners. It also must include important elements of the region’s prioritized industry cluster.
     
    Potential Applicants: Eligible applicants are rural jobs accelerator partnerships with expertise in delivering economic and job training programs, consisting of the following:
    • Non-profit entities
    • State entities
    • Tribal entities
    • Institutions of higher education
    • Public bodies
     
    How Much: $500,000 – $2,000,000
    Deadline: April 19, 2022
    Apply Now
     
    US Economic Development Administration (EDA) ARPA Programs
     
    The US Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced six new programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, that they will execute to equitably invest the $3 billion it received from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.  This EDA investment is the largest economic development initiative from the Department of Commerce in decades and will help communities across the country build back better.

    Investing in America’s Communities includes: 
    • Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million) is designed to help get Americans back in good-paying jobs. The program will develop and strengthen regional workforce training systems and sector-based partnerships with a focus on programs targeted at women, people of color and historically underserved communities. Application deadline is January 26, 2022.
    • Economic Adjustment Assistance ($500 million) grants will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through projects tailored to meet local needs.  Applications are rolling.
    • Indigenous Communities ($100 million) program will work hand-in-hand with Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities to develop and execute economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future. Applications are rolling.
    • Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation ($750 million) program will focus on revitalizing the hard-hit travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries and accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on these sectors.  Applications are rolling.
    • Statewide Planning, Research and Networks ($90 million) grants include funding for state planning efforts as well as grants to build Communities of Practice to extend technical assistance to support EDA’s work with grantees.  Applications are rolling.
     
    As part of the six programs, EDA is making a Coal Communities Commitment, allocating $300 million to ensure support for these communities as they recover from the pandemic and create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. EDA has also set up webinars that dive into each program in more details.  To find information on these webinars and program opportunities, visit www.eda.gov/ARPA .
     

    Illinois EPA Announces Grant Opportunity to Fund Energy Efficiency Projects at Low-Income Residential Properties

    Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director John J. Kim today announced the Low-Income Residential Energy Efficiency grant opportunity with up to $2,000,000 in funding available for energy efficiency upgrades at low-income single or multi-family residential properties. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has been posted to the Illinois EPA’s Office of Energy webpage.
     
    Eligible applicants include public housing authorities, units of local government (municipalities, counties, or townships), or nonprofit organizations. Low-income single or multi-family properties eligible for funding must be a customer of a municipally owned electric utility or an electric cooperative. Projects in Illinois EPA-identified environmental justice areas of concern will be prioritized. Eligible projects include window replacement, heating and cooling equipment retrofits, and lighting upgrades. Total project costs may range from $25,000 - $500,000 with a match requirement subject to total funding request.
     
    Applications for the Low-Income Residential Energy Efficiency NOFO are due by close of business (5:00 p.m.) on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. For eligibility and application information, visit:  https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/energy/LIREE/Pages/default.aspx. Applicants may not apply for a grant until they are pre-qualified through the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Grantee Portal.
     
    The grant program will invest funding from the State of Illinois Energy Efficiency Trust Fund (20 ILCS 687/6-6). The Energy Efficiency Trust Fund was established to benefit residential electric customers through projects determined to reduce energy demand.
     

    Utility Relief Available Now for Families in Need

     
    DCEO want to remind residents of utility relief available to low-income families throughout the state. Through Governor Pritzker’s Help Illinois Families program, DCEO has launched over $295 million in utility assistance programming available for low-income households across the state and is accepting applications now through May 31, 2022, while funds remain.
     
    Since the program first launched in September, over $84 million in payments have been approved for 77,000 households through the Low-income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Today, more than $200 million remains available to help cover the cost of heating and energy bills, including expanded benefits provided this year from $750 to $1,000 in payments available, on average per household, allowing more assistance to Illinois families for utilities this season than ever before.  Additional funding to offset utility costs for low income families comes at a critical time, as customers are expected to face higher costs to heat their homes this season. Nearly half of all US households are expected to face higher costs on service this year, according to the Energy Information Association (EIA).  Households at 200% federal poverty level or below are income eligible. Visit www.helpillinoisfamilies.com for additional information or contact the hotline service providing real-time assistance in over 30 languages at 1-833-711-0374.
     
    Rural Energy for America Program
     

    The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Funds may be used for renewable energy systems such as biomass; geothermal for electric generation; hydropower; hydrogen; small and large wind and solar generation; and ocean generation. Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of energy efficiency improvements including HVAC systems; insulation; lighting; cooling or refrigeration units; doors and windows; electric, solar or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots; switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor; or replacement of energy-inefficient equipment. Agricultural producers may also use guaranteed loan funds to install energy efficient equipment and systems for agricultural production or processing.

    Potential Applicants:
    • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
    • Small businesses in eligible rural areas (with populations of 50,000 residents or less).
     
    How Much: Grants up to 25% of total eligible project costs. There is a $2,500 minimum and $500,000 maximum for renewable energy system grants and a $1,500 minimum and $250,000 maximum for energy efficiency grants.
    Deadline: March 31, 2022   Apply Now
     
    IDOT Building Blocks of Success
     
    The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting free virtual workshops in January as part of its continuing Building Blocks of Success series for firms interested in participating in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, strengthening their skills and bidding on state construction projects.
    The workshop dates and topics are:
    • Jan. 4, 10 a.m. to noon: Bidding on the IDOT Website
    • Jan. 6, 10 a.m. to noon: Excel Estimating and Bidding Worksheet
    • Jan. 11, 10 a.m. to noon: Overhead Calculation Rate
    • Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to noon: Improving your Personal Business (D&B) Credit Score
    • Jan. 25, 10 a.m. to noon: QuickBooks: Setting Up your Company
    • Jan. 26, 10 a.m. to noon: QuickBooks: Performing Day to Day Tasks
    • Jan. 27, 10 a.m. to noon: QuickBooks: Reporting
    Future topics covered include financing, QuickBooks training, estimating and bidding, insurance, management, steps needed to be certified as a DBE firm and more.
     
    Building Blocks of Success will continue through April. Workshop information, including dates and times, is available through Eventbrite at bit.ly/DBEworkshops. Advance registration is required. Questions can be directed to IDOT’s DBE Resource Center at (312) 939.1100.
     
    Following DCEO
     
    If you have upcoming meetings or events and would like DCEO to participate, please reach out to me.  One of our goals is to ensure information about our programs and activities is getting out to the communities and we’re happy to participate.  We are working on our schedules for 2022 and have a lot of exciting programs on the horizon, so please let us know if you are interested in partnering with us to provide program information to your organization and region.  I also encourage you to follow us on our social media channels for real time updates.