• Illinois Department of Commerce Weekly Update

    Northeast Region Weekly Update
    I hope this message finds you safe and healthy!  The State of Illinois has announced a series of events and resources planned throughout February’s observance of National Black History Month (BHM) to recognize the important contributions of Black businesses to Illinois’ economy, as well as to promote efforts to support continued growth in the years ahead. Hosted by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), Central Management Services (CMS), as well as community and civic leaders including the Chicago Urban League, Fifth Third Bank, and more – the events planned will include a wide range of topics offering insight into resources and programs exclusively focused on advancing Black and minority-owned businesses in Illinois.  I’ve noted the events below.  Also, this week, DCEO’s Regional Economic Development Team has announced weekly office hours where team members will be available to answer questions or provide any technical assistance that is needed.  More information on those opportunities are below.  DCEO continues to host webinars on the SBA’s PPP and other COVID-19 relief programs throughout the month of February.  We have many partners that are helping businesses understand the programs available to them.  Finally, as all Restore Illinois Regions have moved back to Phase 4 mitigation, please remember to wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.  We’re All in Illinois! 

    National Black History Month
    This year’s Black History Month pays tribute to the 132,000 Black businesses in Illinois, recognizes their contributions and highlights targeted programs and resources to support diverse enterprises and ensure equitable opportunity for businesses of all types and sizes.  Our upcoming events are listed below:

    Celebrating the History of Black Business: A Fireside Chat with Director Erin Guthrie
    Thursday, February 11, 2021, 10:00 AM 

    Click here to register
    Illinois has a strong Black business community. Director Erin Guthrie will meet with a group of long standing businesses throughout the state to listen to entrepreneurs share their experiences, including barriers they have overcome, success stories, and how we can work to ensure that Illinois is a place where Black business can thrive.

    Black Access to Capital: How Black Economic Trailblazers are Closing the "Racial Wealth Gap"
    Thursday, February 18, 2021, 2:00 PM

    Click here to register
    Just because they were first, does not mean they should be the last. Black access to capital has long been an issue in America, and Illinois is no exception. Institutional barriers to mortgage loans, small business loans, development capital, and government procurement for Black Americans has created an elusive environment for capital access. Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce, Fifth Third Bank, and Black Chicago business pioneers for a moderated panel discussion about how they are increasing access to capital in Black communities and how you can join the fight for equity.

    Black History Month: Opportunities in Trade and Overcoming Barriers
    Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 2:00 PM
    Time: 2:00 PM 

    Click here to register
    Registration code: ITCCOMEE

    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) through its Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) and the International Trade Club of Chicago (ITCC) will host a conversation about how to increase participation in international trade by Black businesses. DCEO is committed to increasing diversity in trade across our state because we know that our economy does better when all businesses have access to market growth opportunities. This event will feature trade and entrepreneurship experts that will discuss how Black entrepreneurs can grow their business through export activities. We will discuss opportunities, overcoming barriers to entry, and resources available to provide support.

    Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME): Longevity in Business 
    Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 10:00 AM 

    Click here to register 

    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) through its Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) and the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will host a conversation on "Longevity in Business." A panel of Black business owners from across the state will share insights and best practices for maintaining a successful business for years to come.

    Team RED Office hours
    DCEO’s Regional Economic Development Team is hosting weekly office hours on the days and times listed below.  These sessions are designed as open times that the Team is available.  The Team will provide you with the latest updates and answer any questions you may have on state or federal programs.  Feel free to drop in for any assistance you need.  If these times do not work for you, please reach out to your regional Team RED representative.  We’re always here to help.
    Mondays from 3pm – 4pm
    Meeting link:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/j.php?MTID=mdac63fc058a28665bc12f2db155d8e81
    Wednesdays from 1pm – 2pm
    Meeting link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/j.php?MTID=mab7683a4fd7c1b69c9aead26b0fce1ea
    Thursdays from 3pm – 4pm
    Meeting link:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/j.php?MTID=me64c9d6620b31db8645644cf588f956b
    Fridays from 10am – 11am
    Meeting link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/j.php?MTID=m097b6d22cef426d023f9d5375ba167b4
    Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program

    The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, has re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers.  This round of the PPP will continue to be processed through participating financial institutions and will be available through March 31, 2021.  This round will authorize up to $284 billion.  This round is open to both First Draw PPP Loans and a Second Draw PPP Loan.  In general, a First Draw PPP loan is for eligible borrowers who did not receive a PPP loan before the program closed in August 2020. A Second Draw PPP loan is for certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan and used the full amount of their First Draw PPP loan on authorized expenses, generally have 300 employees or less, and have suffered a 25% reduction in gross receipts.  Key PPP updates include:

    • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
    • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
    • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include qualifying 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
    • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
    • The maximum amount for a First Draw loan is $10 million and for a Second Draw loan is $2 million;
    • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP loan amount;
    • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP loan; and
    • In order to be eligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), which is not yet open for applications, applicants must not have received a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020.
     A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP loan if the borrower:
    • Previously received a First Draw PPP loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
    • Has no more than 300 employees; and
    • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
    DCEO teams will host or sponsor more than 100 webinars held from now until the end of February. Webinars will cover technical assistance and questions related to the PPP application, as well as provide informational resources for businesses seeking assistance on EIDL, upcoming EIDL Advance, and SVO grant programs, and other resources tailored to small businesses. For a list of upcoming webinars on PPP and other programs, please visit DCEO’s page.   Below are some upcoming webinars next week hosted by Team RED and their registration links.

    Date:  February 9, 2021
    Time:  2:00 pm
    Presenters:  Kala Lambert, Southeast Regional Manager of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
    Aly Grady, Central Regional Manager of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
    Registration Link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=ece784409dbfe8e2ff55a7a1253ba9088
    Date:  February 10, 2021
    Time:  10:00 am
    Presenter:  Tracey Glenn, Southwest Regional Manager for Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
    Registration Link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=edf5666e7f568ba6b693af980d224e132
    Date:  February 11, 2021
    Time:  1:00 pm
    Presenter:  Joe McKeown, Northeast Region Senior Account Manager, Office of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
    Registration Link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=ed0fa7b16a8d5532fecc820656415fd48
    Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program
    The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, 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 entities 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
    • Talent representatives, and
    • Each business entity owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements
     This program is not yet open for applications and SBA will continue to issue guidance on this program.  There are two requirements of note for this program.  First, the business must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020.  Second, the venue or promoter must not have received a PPP loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020.  To follow updates on this program, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.
    Small Business Administration Program: Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
    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.  Applicants must be physically located in the U.S. or designated territory and suffered working capital losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, not due to a downturn in the economy or other reasons.  Eligible applicants include the following:
    • Businesses with 500 or fewer employees or defined as small per SBA.gov/SizeStandards
    •  Cooperatives with 500 or fewer employees
    •  Agricultural enterprises with 500 or fewer employees
    •     Most private nonprofits
    •     Faith-based organizations
    •     Sole proprietorships and independent contractors
    The deadline to apply for this program has been extended to December 31, 2021.  For more information and the application, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.
    Restore Illinois Plan
    At this time, both Restore Illinois Region 3 and Region 6 have returned to the Phase 4 Mitigation measures.  These regions cover all the counties in DCEO’s Central Economic Development Region.  The Phase 4 Mitigation measures return us back to where we were in the early fall.  The Phase 4 guidelines can be found on our website here.  We have issued a new FAQ document as well.  That document can be found here.  IDPH will continue to track the metrics by region to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigation should remain in place.  Follow the latest regional metrics at:  https://dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics .
    Upcoming Webinars
    Advantage Illinois
    Advantage Illinois provides Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the capital to start new companies and expand existing business.  Comprised of programs to spur institutional lending, includes Capital Access Program and Participation Loan Program.  I will be hosting a webinar on this program to provide details on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10:00 am.  To register for this session, please click here.   To find out more information on this program, please click here.
    Open DCEO Notice of Funding Opportunities
    Below is a list of open Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) currently with the Department.  Please use the links to go to additional information on our website.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions on these.
    • Illinois Connected Communities Grant Program – Applications due 2/8/21.  For more information, click here.
    • Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program – Applications due 3/1/2021.  For more information, click here
    • Wet Lab Capital Program – Applications due 3/1/21.  For more information, click here.
    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 now working on scheduling workshops for 2021, so please let us know if you are interested in partnering with us to provide program information to your organization and region.  If you want to receive updates from the Department, you can fill out this form and you’ll be added to our Department contact list.  I also encourage you to follow us on our social media channels for real time updates.
    Local CURE Support Program
    Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (Local CURE) Support Program:  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.  Additional guidance has been released on Substantially Dedicated Payroll and Claiming the Costs of Implementing CDC Guidance for Public Employees and within Public Spaces or Facilities.  Check out these new documents and other guidance hereIf you have not been able to access the portal or have not received the access email, please send a message to our partner, Crowe, at LocalCURE@crowe.com and they will be able to assist you.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  You have other questions you can send them to LocalCURE@crowe.com and we will get back to you.  
    The Local CURE Support Team is now hosting weekly office hours!
    Join us on Zoom from 2-2:30pm CST every Friday for open Q&A regarding the Local CURE program.

    This is an informal event, so feel free to call in for just a second or stay the whole time.
    Link: https://crowe.zoom.us/j/99054821252?pwd=bmlUT0JkeHp1M1UrQnRBek5rVTBjQT09
    Password: 150052
    Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program
    The final day to submit applications is February 26, 2021.  As of November 1, 2020, the Department is expanding the Downstate Small Business Stabilization program to include Essential Businesses that have lost more than 20% in sales in comparison to the same time period in 2019.  This program will offer small businesses with at least one employee (not including the owner) and up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 for 60 days of working capital.  Grant applicants should use the most current Guidebook for this program as well as streamlined the GATA budget form for this program.  Both documents can be found on our website here
    Other DCEO Programs
    Broadband Expansion Funding Opportunity
    Illinois Connected Communities Grants - $150,000
    A partnership by the Office of Broadband, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and local philanthropic organizations, the Illinois Connected Communities (ICC) program was first launched in the summer of 2020 to help drive community planning and capacity building. A total of $150,000 in second round state funding, combined with philanthropic dollars that underwrites the cost of expert consultative services, and access to best practice curriculum, will be made available to assist local governments, libraries, schools, and various local organizations with planning and progress around broadband access, adoption, and utilization.
    A first round of state grant funding, combined with a philanthropic match, was directed to 12 community-based organizations in July to assist with planning to ensure access, adoption, and utilization of high-speed broadband. This latest round will allow communities to apply for up to $15,000 in grants that will support community based broadband planning and capacity building. Click here for the NOFO. Application due date has been extended until 2/8/21.
    Broadband Expansion Capital Funding
    The state is releasing $50 million in funding for the second round of matching grants through Connect Illinois, the state’s $420 million statewide broadband expansion plan. This availability of additional funding builds on the inaugural round of funding released earlier this year, which supported 28 projects collectively slated to support over 26,000 new or enhanced connections serving every corner of the state.  Eligible applicants include internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments. Up to $5 million per project will be available during the second round, and subsequent rounds will follow over the course of the next several years. The second round of Connect Illinois calls for a nonstate match component requiring companies to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments.  The application for the second round of funding largely mirrors requirements of the first application – including a 50 percent nonmatch in most cases. To ensure an equal playing field, the administration has instituted an exemption allowing a lower nonstate match for project proposals concerning economically distressed communities.

    This program change acknowledges the difficulty of connecting the hardest-to-serve areas of Illinois, and the compounding challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, allowing underserved communities to be competitive when applying for critical infrastructure dollars. In addition to providing universal access to basic broadband for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions by 2024, the State’s broadband plan seeks to improve utilization of broadband for various uses in education, telehealth and economic development. All Connect Illinois projects must meet the minority business participation requirements of the State of Illinois' Business Enterprise Program.  Click here  for the NOFO.  Applications are due 3/1/2021.  
    PC’s for People
    Through a first-of-its-kind collaboration by the State of Illinois, PCs for People and various community partners, Illinois has launched a statewide network that will receive, refurbish and redistribute used computers to those in need. This initiative responds to the 1.1 million Illinois households currently without computers and aims to bridge the digital divide for those without internet access to help improve connectivity essential for remote learning, work from home, telemedicine, and other requirements of everyday life. To source the network with newly refurbished computer devices, the State of Illinois is working with private and philanthropic partners to build a pipeline for Illinois households in need.  For more information, click here.
    Get Hired Illinois
    DCEO in conjunction with IDES launched the Get Hired Illinois.  This is a new portal designed to connect workers with available job and career training opportunities across the state.  Governor Pritzker also announced that beginning in June, Illinois residents will have free access to online workforce development courses via a partnership with Coursera.  Residents and employers may access Get Hired at www.illinois.gov/gethired .  This portal blends IDES and DCEO resources to provide a one-stop-shop for both job seekers and employers – providing information on job opportunities as well as unemployment resources.  The portal is designed to be user-friendly for job seekers of all levels and backgrounds and allows employers to upload jobs, virtual career fairs and training opportunities.  Please check this out whether you are a job seeker or an employer.
    Other News and Notes:
    Illinois Department of Transportation
    The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting free virtual workshops in February as part of its Building Blocks of Success series for firms interested in participating in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program strengthening their skills and bidding on state projects. The workshops are open to all, but some are tailored to specific districts/regions of the state.
    The workshop dates and topics are:
    • Feb. 15: Contractor/Sub Agreements, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Feb. 18: Scheduling the Work, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Feb. 23: Meet the RE, 10 a.m. to noon
    • Feb. 25: Daily Documentation and Diary, 10 a.m. to noon
    Building Blocks of Success will be conducted through April. Workshop information, including dates and times, will be made available through Eventbrite at bit.ly/DBEworkshops. Advance registration is required.

    Questions can be directed to the DBE resource center at (312) 939-1100.
    Illinois Housing Development Authority
    The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) announced $8 million in funding is available to help spur community redevelopment through the elimination of blighted and abandoned residential properties. Municipalities, counties and land banks may apply for grants through the fifth funding round of the state’s Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Program (APP), an ongoing program that assists local government agencies with the maintenance and demolition of abandoned residential properties in their communities. The application will remain open until Feb. 16, 2021 at 3 p.m. CST and is available online at: www.ihda.org/my-community/revitalization-programs.
    Established by the Illinois General Assembly through the Save Our Neighborhoods Act (P.A. 96-1419), the APP program provides grants of up to $250,000 to help municipal governments address the lasting impact of the foreclosure crisis by securing, maintaining, demolishing or rehabilitating abandoned homes. The APP program is funded through a filing fee paid by banks and other lending institutions on a sliding scale based on how many foreclosures they file each year. The Abandoned Property Program is available statewide. Applicants must be a municipality, county or land bank located in the State of Illinois. However, a county or municipality may join with other counties or municipalities and together submit a single application.   To better provide more information on the program, application process and eligibility, IHDA hosted an application tutorial webinar on Jan. 14. Potential applicants can find a recording of the webinar here and the slides from the presentation here.
    USDA’s forum Building Resilience in Agricultural & Food Systems through Innovative and Strategic Partnerships

    Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 1:00-4:30 pm EST.
    Presenters include leaders from USDA, ag industry and community organizations followed by open Q&A discussion. This forum discussion will highlight how innovative and strategic partnerships between federal, state, local and private partners support the building of resilience in agricultural and food systems, with a focus on food systems and disaster recovery. Held in conjunction with USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum, this Microsoft Teams Live Event is hosted by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) and Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Mission Area.
    This event will be conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams Live Event. Register now! Click here to register! The link to the event will be provided upon registration.