• Weekly Commerce Update

    Northeast Region Weekly Update
    May 17, 2021
     
    Happy Economic Development Week!  I hope you have been able to catch some of the webinars that have been hosted this week.  There is a wealth of information out there and I want to extend a thank you to all who have participated.  This week, Governor Pritzker and DCEO announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the expansion of our Community Navigator Program.  This program is an outreach model leveraging community partners to help small and minority owned businesses connect with emergency resources during the pandemic. Based on the success of the community navigator program launched by the State last fall, which helped tens of thousands of small businesses with applying for emergency grants, DCEO is issuing a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) making up to $10 million in additional grant funding available for community partners who can assist the State in reaching more small businesses.  See below for more information on this grant opportunity.
     
    We have numerous other program updates, including the Governor’s announcement on moving to the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois Plan effective today, so please read on!  Don’t forget to follow us on our social media channels for real time updates.  Until next week, remember We’re All In Illinois!
     
    Community Navigator Program
     
    Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a significant expansion of DCEO’s community navigator program, an outreach model leveraging community partners to help small, minority owned businesses connect with emergency resources during the pandemic. Based on the success of the community navigator program launched by the State last fall, which helped tens of thousands of small businesses with applying for emergency grants, DCEO is issuing a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) making up to $10 million in additional grant funding available for community partners who can assist the State in reaching more small businesses.
     
    With many small businesses still struggling from the impact of COVID-19, the expansion of community navigator services will play an important role in helping more disadvantaged businesses benefit from ongoing federal relief efforts and future business relief programs to aid in the economic recovery.  Leveraging community organizations through a hub and spoke model, the navigator model has assisted the State with providing comprehensive outreach and services focused on small businesses facing barriers to accessing emergency pandemic relief. Through the NOFO, DCEO will expand the program by issuing approximately 15 additional grants to expand the program and to reach small businesses in every part of the state through partner organizations.
     
    Navigator partners provide businesses with direct assistance on applications for funding, as well as language assistance, on-the-ground outreach, webinars, technical assistance sessions, and more. This tailored approach includes assistance for minority owned, very small businesses, and those located in rural communities – businesses which may be at a disadvantage in competing for grant programs alongside larger and more well-resourced businesses.  Community navigators will provide specialized outreach to target businesses which typically face barriers in accessing capital and funding opportunities. This includes small businesses located in rural areas or disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) designated by DCEO and small businesses owned by members of the following communities: racial or ethnic minorities, veterans, immigrants, women, and individuals with disabilities.
     
    Using a hub-and-spoke model, DCEO will accept applications from regional partners (“hubs”) who demonstrate a plan to partner with subgrantees that are community-based organizations (“spokes”) located in low- and moderate-income (LMI) census tracts with a strong track record of serving diverse, underserved and minority-owned small businesses. DCEO will accept applications from a wide range of organization types, including but not limited to: chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, community organizations, business incubators, and more, with a goal of helping grant recipients ramp up outreach to begin this summer.
     
    To apply for the community navigator NOFO, please visit DCEO’s website. Applications are due June 9, 2021. DCEO hosted webinars on Thursday May 13th and 14th to assist interested parties with navigating the application process. Information from these webinars will be posted on the website soon.  If you are interested in participating in this program and need any assistance including connecting with a “hub” or “spoke”, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
     
    Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
     
    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming business ecosystem for our fellow AAPI Illinoisans through efforts that center equitable access to opportunities and resources. In honor of May’s observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), please join us for a series of events highlighting the countless contributions and success stories of Illinois’ 21,000 AAPI-owned businesses. 
     
    Hosted by DCEO’s Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE), events will focus on programs available to businesses seeking access to capital, state and federal COVID-19 relief resources, and webinar opportunities specific to AAPI-owned businesses.
     
    Learn more and register for a webinar focused on AAPI-owned businesses: https://bit.ly/2PCUzuJ
     
    Restaurant Revitalization Fund
     
    UPDATE: This program is now accepting applications.  SBA has received a significant number of applications under this program since the portal opened on May 3rd.  However, because SBA still has potential funding available for eligible establishments with 2019 annual revenue of not more than $50,000, it will keep the application portal open. Eligible establishments that meet this revenue standard are encouraged to apply through SBA-recognized point-of-sale vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal. To apply, go to www.sba.gov/restaurant .   I will let you know when I am notified the portal is closed. 
     
    The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released information on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) program.  This program was established under the American Rescue Plan Act.  This program is awarding funding to restaurants, bars, and other similar places of business that serve food or drink.  The purpose of the funding is to provide support to eligible entities that suffered revenue losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program has been appropriated $28.6 billion for the SBA to award funds nationwide. 
     
    The portal for the program can be accessed through www.sba.gov/restaurant .  For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applications will be reviewed. 
     
    Eligible entities under this program are for-profit businesses that are not permanently closed and include businesses where the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink including:

    • Restaurants
    • Food stands, food trucks, food carts
    • Caterers
    • Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
    • Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products
    • Bakeries
    • Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms
    • Wineries and distilleries
     
    Please refer to the program guide on the SBA website noted above for a full list of eligibility guidelines.  Also, SBA has a Knowledge Base system to help answer questions.  That information can be found through this link:  Restaurant Revitalization Fund Knowledge Base – SBA Restaurant Program (zendesk.com)
    As of now, we have the following webinars set up to provide information on this program:
     
    Date and Time: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 3:00 pm CST
    Register Here:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=efccad2aea2ce8df2e8770a436973d12a
     
    Date and Time: Friday, May 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm CST
    Register Here:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=e15b004cfcf6a04a854717eb6aa4d19a1
     
    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 portal has reopened for applications.  SBA has posted updated guidance documents.  Please check the SBA website, www.sba.gov/svogrant, for more information. 
     
    You can refer to this Eligibility Requirements Chart to help determine qualifications for the program.  SBA has proved FAQ;s and a link to a webinar recording that covers the program. To follow updates on this program, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.  Applicants must also have a valid SAM.gov registration to apply for this program.  Here’s a link to a video on how to apply:  SAM.gov Entity Registration Training - YouTube .

    Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program

    As of May 6, 2021, funding for the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted.  The SBA will continue funding outstanding approved PPP applications, but new qualifying applications will only be funded through Community Financial Institution, financial lenders who serve underserved communities.

    Small Business Administration Program: Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
     
    SBA has announced that for loans approved starting the week of April 6, 2021, the maximum loan amount will be increased to $500,000.  For loans approved prior to the week of April 6, 2021, please click here for information from SBA on loan increases.
     
    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.  The SBA has also extended deferment periods for all disaster loans including EIDL until 2022.  All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.  All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.  For more information and the application, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.
     
    DCEO Office of Community Development Updates
     
    The Office of Community Development hosted their 2021 CDBG virtual workshops in April.  The 2021 Guidebooks and recordings of the workshops will be available on our website soon.  However, communities can review the 2020 guidebooks that are currently posted as there will be minimal changes with the 2021 guidebooks.  The Application Deadline has been set for Tuesday, August 3rd for both the Housing Rehabilitation and Public Infrastructure programs.  DCEO Team RED will be doing some webinars highlighting these programs in the upcoming weeks.  Those webinars are noted below under the Upcoming Webinars.
     
    Upcoming Webinars
     
    Team RED will be hosting numerous program webinars in addition to those noted above over the next few weeks.  Please join us and learn about these programs.  While different team members from around the state are hosting the webinars, they are open to anyone to attend.   We are also hosting a series of webinars as part of our World Trade Month.   You can view the full list of upcoming events on our website here.
     
    For more information on upcoming World Trade Month webinars, visit... https://bit.ly/3gzJF1m
     
     
    CDBG Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation Program for Rural Communities
    Date and Time:  Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 10:00 am
    Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about the Community Development Block Grant Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation programs.  These programs are grant opportunities that can assist with public infrastructure and housing rehabilitation needs within your community.  Learn more about these programs and how to apply for the grants.
    Register Here:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=e52f78db9bdb1442ca31448fec0c5be14
     
    CDBG Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation Program for Rural Communities
    Date and Time:  Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 10:00 am
    Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about the Community Development Block Grant Public Infrastructure and Housing Rehabilitation programs.  These programs are grant opportunities that can assist with public infrastructure and housing rehabilitation needs within your community.  Learn more about these programs and how to apply for the grants.
    Register Here:  https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/onstage/g.php?MTID=e35675746a9f19890dbb948ddb32bffa7
     
    Restore Illinois Plan
     
    All regions of the state are moving to the Bridge to Phase 5 today.  We are working quickly to update all the guidelines as we move to this phase with many of them updated today.  All the guidelines can be found on our website here.    Under the Bridge Phase, capacity limits increase for many types of settings.  More information on the Bridge to Phase 5 plan can be found here.  If you have questions on the guidelines or how they apply to a situation, please reach out to us for guidance.  Statewide reopening metrics can be found at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/statewidemetrics.
     
    Vaccine Information:  Information about vaccine locations and appointments can be found on the coronavirus.illinois.gov website. Residents who don’t have access to or need assistance navigating online services can call the toll-free IDPH hotline at 833-621-1284 for assistance. The hotline is open 7 days a week from 6am to midnight with agents available in English and Spanish. 
     
    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
     
    DCEO Office of Minority Economic Empowerment
     
    The Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) is committed to providing minority-, women-, persons with disabilities and veteran-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs across the state with equitable access to opportunities and resources. Through dynamic partnerships, targeted outreach, and tailored programs and initiatives, OMEE aims to create an inclusive business ecosystem for communities that have traditionally faced systemic barriers to entry and growth. This investment spurs local economic development in underserved areas resulting in a revitalized and thriving Illinois economy.  OMEE is gathering contact and business information for an internal database to support our businesses and stakeholders more effectively. Please click here to update your information with us. Feel free to reach us at ceo.omee@illinois.gov with any questions.  You can find more information about OMEE including programs they are hosting on their webpage 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 continue to schedule workshops and presentations 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.  
     
    PC’s for People Partnership
     
    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.
     
    If you are interested in donating equipment to this program, PCs for People will accept any and all used computer equipment, redistributing what it can refurbish and recycling what it cannot refurbish.  PCs for People is NAID AAA and R2 certified, requiring the non-for-profit to practice the highest standards of information destruction, hard drive sanitization, and environmental computer device recycling along with a zero-landfill policy. If your entity is undertaking a pc refresh or you know of an entity that is looking to undertake one and would be interested in donating to this program, please let me know and we’ll help make the connection to PC’s for People.
     
    Other News and Notes:
     
    IDOT Announces funding to revitalize airports
     
    Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that $94 million will be made available to improve public airports throughout the state through the historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program. As part of a competitive grant process, IDOT will be seeking proposals for the planning, construction, reconstruction, extension, development and improvement of public airports. The investment will not only create good-paying jobs during construction but provide long-term opportunities for airports to expand their workforce.
     
    To be eligible, airports must be for public use and included in the Illinois Aviation System Plan. Applications are due June 14 to be eligible for a total of $94 million to be released later this year, with a maximum of $25 million for individual awards. Application information is available by clicking here or visiting IDOT’s Airport Improvement Program page. Awards are anticipated to be announced later this year.
     
    IDOT Announces funding for Public Ports
     
    Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced $110 million in funding from the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan is available to improve public ports across the state of Illinois. The Department is seeking project proposals to improve public ports and help modernize and revitalize the state’s marine transportation system. Applications are due June 11 to be eligible for a total of $110 million in funding to be released later this year.   All 19 public port districts in Illinois are eligible to apply. Application information is available by clicking here or visiting IDOT’s Illinois Long-Range Transportation Plan page. Awards are anticipated to be announced later this year.
     
    The Port Facilities Capital Investment Grant Program coincides with the release of IDOT’s new Illinois Marine Transportation System Plan, which determined the state’s ports create $36 billion in economic activity annually and support 160,000 jobs. Grant proposals will be evaluated on their ability to advance the plan’s goals and objectives, which prioritize asset management performance-based decisions and projects that benefit disadvantaged or economically distressed areas. 
     
    Public Museum Capital Grants Program
     
    Public museums in Illinois can receive funding assistance to improve museum facilities and develop new exhibits through the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which administers the program, is accepting applications from qualifying public museums. The deadline to apply is July 16, 2021.  
     
    A total of $27 million in funding from the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital program has been made available for public museum capital grants for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Grant awards for qualifying projects can range from $25,000 to a maximum of $750,000. 
    Public Museum Capital Grants are available to non-profit public museums that meet the following criteria:
    • Must have been open to the public, for its instruction and enjoyment, for at least two years;
    • Must be operated by or located upon land or owned by a unit of local government or certified as a public museum;
    • Must meet professional standards of the appropriate accreditation program;
    • Must have a professional staff;
    • Must care for and own or utilize tangible options and present programs and exhibits; and,
    • Must be open to the public on a regular schedule and must collect and maintain auditable attendance data.
     
    For detailed information on the application process, museum eligibility, matching fund requirements, and a copy of the application form, check the IDNR website at https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/grants/Pages/Museum-Capital-Grants.aspx
     
    Specialty Crop Block Grant Proposals
     
    In an effort to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce and strengthen the competitiveness of Illinois’ specialty crop industry, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is now accepting Specialty Crop Block Grant Proposals. The application can be found in the IDOA website and must be returned to the Department by 4pm on May 24, 2021
     
    Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, local and government entities, trade and commodity associations, public and private colleges/universities. All projects must begin in calendar year 2022.  Illinois encourages applications that benefit small farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, military veterans and underserved communities. 
    To encourage further expansion of the specialty crop industry and to take full advantage of the allocated federal funds, the Department invites the development of projects pertaining to the following issues:

    • Enhancing food safety
    • Improving the capacity of all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, for example, by developing “Good Agricultural "Practices," “Good Handling Practices” and “Good Manufacturing Practices” and in cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors
    • Investing in specialty crop research, including research focused on conservation and environmental outcomes
    • Supporting the growth of organic specialty crops
    • Developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops
    • Improving pest and disease control
    • Increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops
    • Improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems
     
    Projects that benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual are ineligible.  Farmer’s markets, roadside stands and community-sponsored agriculture programs should consider submitting proposals to the USDA’s Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program.

    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service defines specialty crops as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).”  There are more than 3,200 producers devoting more than 90,000 acres of Illinois farmland to specialty crops production, creating nearly $472 million in annual sales for Illinois farmers.  Nationally, Illinois ranks first for its pumpkin and horseradish production and is in the top ten in the production of asparagus, cauliflower, fresh-cut herbs, peas, mustard greens, and lima beans.

    IDOA plans to distribute more than $588,000 over a three-year period thanks to funding allocated in the Specialty Crop Block Grant program in the federal Farm Bill.  Proposal packets and additional information about the program can be found online at the Illinois Department of Agriculture website and/or by contacting AGR.ISCBG@illinois.gov