The deadline for Illinois small businesses to apply for coronavirus relief grants comes early this week, according to state officials.
In a coronavirus briefing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said small businesses owners have until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to apply for the Business Interruption Grants.
"Since we launched the BIG program in June, making $540 million available
to small businesses, with $270 million reserved for childcare businesses
specifically – we’ve seen an enormous response, which speaks to the
challenges faced by so many of our small businesses," Pritzker said.
At this point in the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has paid out more than $168 million of the $270 million devoted to small businesses to over 6,300 owners in over 500 cities around the state, Pritzker said.
He added that officials expect to continue using grants through the end of the year until all funding is allocated.
Pritzker said special consideration for the grants is given to businesses most heavily impacted by the pandemic, especially those in downstate communities, along with businesses making an annual revenue of $5 million or less. Businesses that have not received other forms of emergency assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program will also be more specifically considered.
"If you own a small business, or you know someone who does – make sure
they take the time to submit an application if they qualify," Pritzker said.
Illinois' BIG program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, according to Pritzker, with an average grant size of $25,000.
For more information, the governor said to visit Illinois.gov/DCEO
Congress is back to hashing out new relief measures this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed a bipartisan $908 billion stimulus plan on Wednesday, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed his $500 billion package.
Both plans allow cash-strapped business owners to take another draw from the Paycheck Protection Program – a forgivable loan program intended for battered businesses.
Typically, applicants in the program are eligible for loan forgiveness if they use a minimum of 60% of the proceeds for payroll expenses. Those that fall short may be eligible for partial forgiveness.
More than 5 million PPP loans were approved, accounting for $525 billion, according to the Small Business Administration.
But tax professionals and entrepreneurs say that these efforts fall short – particularly for bars and restaurants that are once more facing the prospect of closing their doors amid rising Covid-19 cases.
"If you turn on the TV and hear that by the time vaccines are out, we'll have the pandemic under control by the second or third quarter, then you need to survive for more than six months into 2021," said Ed Zollars, CPA and partner at Thomas, Zollars & Lynch in Phoenix and an instructor at Kaplan Financial Education.
"How do you pay the bills for six months, if you're a restaurant that's seeing lower revenue or non-existent revenue?" he asked.
PPP and another loan program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, have come under fire due to fraud risk, misuse by bad actors and the fact that large well-established firms with connections to lenders received millions of dollars.