Covid-19 Business Resources


Chicago is currently in Phase IV: Gradually Resume. Click HERE for guidelines on this process.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, there are a number of resources and links to information available.  This page will be updated frequently over the next few weeks, so please check back often. Scroll down to see current information about Business Loans and Grants, Webinars and Tools, and Tax Relief. In addition, a collection of tools specific to artists and actors is listed at the bottom of the page.

What to do when COVID-19 has been in your establishment: Within the guidelines you can find step-by-step instructions on what to do when an individual with COVID-19 has been in your facility, including notification of close contacts, cleaning steps and reporting clusters of cases to CDPH. The guidance document also includes templates for notifying staff and other health resources to support businesses as they reopen.

Looking for virtual and other offerings from local businesses? Please visit the Shop Edgewater-Community Resources Page

Loans and Grants

Small Business Owner Guide to the CARES Act (from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship) continues to be a great resource for small businesses & non-profits looking for assistance during this period.  This guide has frequently asked questions for each of the programs established or enhanced to support small businesses, and many of its key points are briefly summarized in the guidance below.

Feedback on your Disaster Recovery Share your organization’s experience navigating the federal resources created to support these organizations during this time of need. 

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Applications for this fund are currently being accepted until August 8, 2020. The PPP is designed to help small businesses & non-profits maintain payroll in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Eligible businesses who enroll in the program will receive a forgivable loan to use for payroll purposes, in addition to helping pay for utilities, rent, mortgage interest payments, and more. The SBA has also updated its PPP guidance to reflect changes enacted by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. Businesses now can use PPP funds over a 24-week period, and the covered period for the loan was extended until Dec. 31, 2020.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has just released a streamlined form for applying for forgiveness with your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lender. You are eligible to fill out the EZ Forgiveness Application if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You are self-employed and have no employees; 
  • You did not reduce the salaries or wages of your employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of your employees; 
  • You experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19 and did not reduce the salaries or wages of your employees by more than 25%.

Note: Businesses that don’t meet one of these requirements will still need to complete the Full Forgiveness Application

SBA low-interest disaster loans: Illinois businesses and residents affected by civil unrest on May 26 through June 8, 2020 can apply.

Illinois Numbers So Far: According to the SBA, as of May 30, 2020, 183,674 loans had been approved for Illinois, totaling $22 billion. The average loan amount was $114,000.

Applications are being handled by all banking institutions that handle SBA loans. Most local banks are participating and we recommend contacting the bank where you currently have your business account, or where you have applied for previous SBA funding. We are hearing that there is a long backlog of applications, and glitches with the SBA site that the banks need to use to submit them.

If you have already submitted your application with a lender, it is suggested that you contact that lender ASAP to ensure that they have the documentation they need to process your application as soon as possible. 

If you have applied for a PPP loan but have found your lender non-responsive, you may want to consider other avenues to ensure that your application has a great likelihood of being processed and accepted.  According to contacts at the SBA, it is not uncommon for organizations to have multiple simultaneous PPP applications filed with different lenders.  Experts have told us  that these simultaneous applications will not harm your attempt to receive PPP funding.  Importantly, please note that your organization may only receive one PPP loan.

Lenders Accepting New Customers: If you have not yet located a lender willing to take your application, Jan Schakowsky’s office has been informed about several lenders that are accepting applications from new customers.   These include:

You may also use this PPP Lender Find Tool

Things to prepare prior to PPP application:

  • check your good standing status
  • have your organizational documents ready
  • have the date the company was organized ready
  • gather all of your payroll information from 2019 and ytd in 2020
  • familiarize yourself with the application on the treasury website so you ensure you complete the application correctly.

PPP Loan Resources: The Small Business Administration has distributed additional guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on how the Paycheck Protection Program is going to be implemented and what both lenders and borrowers need to know.  The following documents were provided:

Additional PPP FAQS

  • banks are prioritizing applications that are complete!
  • Interest rate is 1%
  • No collateral is required, nor is a personal guarantee
  • Credit reports are not being used
  • 1099 contractors can apply on their own behalf beginning on 4/10/2020

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans  (EIDL) are available here now. This program has also been replenished with additional funding. You can apply for loans, as well as up to $10,000 as an emergency loan advance which pays out prior to complete application approval. Another guide with SBA information for small businesses is available here.

Illinois Numbers So Far: According to the SBA, as of April 24, 38,984 EIDL program loans have been processed nationally, amounting to almost $8 billion.  This includes 1,243 loans for Illinois organizations, amounting to about $256 million.  Note that there is significant demand for this program, and it is our understanding that there may be millions of applications being processed. 


  • No collateral is required for loans under $500,000
  • If you receive an advance on the EIDL loan, and then end up being disqualified for the loan, you do not have to return or pay back the advance.
  • If you applied for the advance prior to 3/29, you need to resubmit your application

SBA Express Bridge Loans

The SBA has announced the availability of a new SBA Express Bridge Loan program, that is available to small businesses who already have an established relationship with a SBA Express Lender.

General Information: SBA Express Bridge loans are being offered to act as a bridge for businesses who need short term funding in order to stay afloat until they receive EIDL funds they have previously applied for.  These funds are available in amounts of up to $25,000 and have a fast turnaround time.  These loans will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan once the process is completed. 

SBA Small Business Debt Relief Program

The Small Business Administration is providing a program to assist small businesses who have non-disaster SBA loans – namely 7(a) loans, 504 loans, and microloans.  

Program Benefits: The SBA will cover payments (on principal and interest) in addition to fees for six months. 

Program Applicability: This program will apply to preexisting loans in these categories, in addition to new borrowers who take out these loans within six months of the CARES Act becoming law. 

Loan Program Details: Please see the below links if you think that your business could benefit from these options: 

  • 7(a) Loan Program Information
    • 7(a) loans max out at $5 million are targeted towards borrowers who lack credit elsewhere and need access to flexible capital.  These loans are offered through approved 7(a) lenders (a list is available here)
  • 504 Loan Program Information
    • 504 Loans max out at $5.5 million and provide long-term fixed-rate financing and may be a good option for businesses looking to purchase property or large equipment
  • SBA Microloan Program Information
    • The SBA’s microloan program offers loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses start up or expand.  

The Chicago Resiliency Fund – Applications that were received prior to 5pm on April 24th are being processed. This fund is accepting applications starting June 22, 2020.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Grant Program
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a grant program, offering $5,000 grants to small businesses. This is a first-come first-served program, so check to see if you qualify and apply now at

Loan Options for minority-owned businesses – Minorities are less likely to receive loans, and when they do, they receive lower amounts with higher interest rates. American Business Credit believes in fair business practice, anti-racism, and wants to encourage entrepreneurship for all. 

The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund provides financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19. The application period is open.

Hello Alice, a free, predictive technology, multi-channel platform that guides business owners by providing access to funding, networks and services, has launched a funding and mentorship program for entrepreneurs, which is open to anyone, but has a special focus on women, people of color, LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with disabilities, and those affiliated with the military.
Time frame: General Business for All Grant applications are due September 25, 2020 at 12:00 am PT. $10,000 COVID-19 Business for All Grants are awarded on a rolling basis.
Amount: $250,000 in growth grants will be awarded; Business owners may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support business growth, including $10,000 emergency COVID-19 Business for All Grants to help small businesses in crisis. 
Knowing the ripple effect that empowering women can have to strengthen neighborhoods, cities and countries, The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish The Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis.
Time frame: Between May and September 2020; The first round of applications was open from April 6 at 12pm ET through April 12 at 11:59pm ET. Final grant recipients will be notified by the week of May 11. Each month, we will accept additional applications. The portal will open for applications again on May 4, June 1, July 6, and August 3.
Amount: GlobalGiving, via The Red Backpack Fund, will award at least 1,000 emergency assistance grants to majority women-owned businesses and nonprofits in the U.S. Each grant will be $5,000.
The Yelp Foundation and GoFundMe have pledged to match up to $1 million in total donations from matching grants made possible by the Small Business Relief Fund. The Fund is managed by and will make a $500 matching grant for the first 2,000 eligible businesses that claim or otherwise start their fundraising page on GoFundMe and raise $500.
Time frame: Now; Ends when fund is depleted.
Amount: Through the Small Business Relief Fund, qualifying businesses that have raised at least $500 on GoFundMe can receive a matching $500 grant.
Eligibility: To be eligible to join the matching initiative, businesses must: (a) be in the United States, (b) have claimed their business on Yelp by March 22, 2020, and (c) have five or fewer locations. Additionally, businesses must (d) be listed in at least one of the following categories: Restaurants, Food, Nightlife, Beauty/Spas/Salons, or Active, though some exceptions apply; (d) have been negatively impacted by a government mandate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, (e) be independently owned and operated and not nationally dominant in their field, and (f) intend to use funds to either to help care for their employees / workers or pay ongoing business expenses.
To start your fundraiser with Yelp and GoFundMe, log in to your Yelp for Business account, and if you’re eligible, beginning April 8 you will see a pop-up window allowing you to create a fundraiser on GoFundMe. After you complete the process on GoFundMe, the fundraiser will appear on your Yelp Business Page. Your fundraiser could be eligible for matching funds.

Webinars, Tools, and other Resources

Business Counseling (+ Assistance with Applications)

General Information: In addition to direct financial assistance to small businesses and non-profits, the recent stimulus packages have included significant funding for enhanced small business counseling services.  These organizations are well versed in how to help small businesses succeed and stand ready and willing to help your organization navigate these difficult times.  Counseling resources include:

The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) launched a new business resource center available online. The resource center will provide regular updates on resources and guidance for businesses, consumers and employees.

ChiBizHub, from World Business Chicago, has an excellent collection of business resources HERE

BACP Webinars– the Chicago Dept. of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is taking its series of monthly workshops online, as webinars. Webinars are presented on Wednesdays and Fridays for the rest of the month. This week’s topics focus on how to navigate the current business climate, and creating a one page business plan. Register online.

Switch! Move Your  Business From Offline to Online-if you’re a coach, speaker, or workshop leader, local businesswoman, Stephanie Schwab, can teach you how to move your business online. Cohorts are forming now!

Free Legal Help- The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is offering free 30-minute consultations for small businesses impacted from COVID-19. Register here for a free consultation with one of their volunteer attorneys.

Cash Flow Webinar – On Wednesday 4/1 we partnered with Cultivate Advisors to host a 60-minute webinar designed to help you build a system to make sense of your financials, and give you options to navigate this current crisis. There was some excellent advice about which grants and loans you should take advantage of, and whether or not to access existing lines of credit. As part of our partnership with Cultivate Advisors, you can watch the full webinar here.

Corporate ID Solutions, a Chicago business is Offering Discounted Sign Options for Hospitality & Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Impacts: Corporate Identification Solutions (CIS) wants to help fellow small businesses during this uncertain time, so they created standard sign products that will help restaurants communicate with their customers at a distance. Please check out our collection and ask about custom requests here.

Federal Sick Leave Poster– Updates have been made to federal sick leave guidelines. If your business is open, this should be posted, if your business is closed, it is recommended that you email it to your employees.

Small Business-focused law firm, G & G Law, has put together an accessible toolkit to answer a lot of the questions you may have, especially around employment decisions.

Building a business as a Latino entrepreneur – Latinos are the fastest growing minority demographic to own businesses. Unfortunately, banks and other financial institutions often lack sufficient services to assist Latinos, and only 12 percent of them receive loans from national banks. In an effort to combat this inequality, experts at Bankrate compiled the best ways for Latinos to grow their business and overcome the funding gap.

The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is offering helpful webinars to aid your small business during this time. Topics include Marketing, Successful Working from Home and more.

Michael Courier Photography is offering professional, non-contact, photography services assist you with food images for your delivery websites, as well as photos of your business, to have ready for your re-opening.

TK Photography is also offering professional, non-contact, photo opportunities, as well as scheduling future appointments.

Quicker Printers has online ordering and pickups by appointment to serve your business printing needs.

11hundred Graphics, a local graphics, branding and web design firm is offering services to aid local businesses with communication and online sales.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

General Information: The CARES Act includes a Employee Retention Tax Credit, designed to encourage employers to retain their employees during the COVID-19 crisis.  The IRS describes the credit as a “fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses) that Eligible Employers pay their employees.  This applies to wages paid between March 12, 2020 and January 1, 2021, with a maximum credit for any employee amounting to $5,000.  Additional IRS guidance is available here

Key Caveat: This credit is not available to employers receiving assistance via the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Employer Payroll Tax Deferral

General Information: According to the Guide, a provision in the CARES Act allows for the deferral of the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020.  These deferred amounts are due in two installments – one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022.  Included deferrable taxes include the employer portion of FICA taxes and half of SECA tax liability. Additional IRS guidance is available here.  

Key Caveat: Deferral is not available to employers receiving assistance via the Paycheck Protection Program.

Artist and Actor Funds and Grants

Arts For Illinois – The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund provides financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19.
Chicago Theatre Workers Relief Fund  – This Fund is intended to help replace lost income to individuals due to theatre closures. The Fund is available to all those who have had to stop work and are not getting paid, including those who were on contract, part time employees and those working on a stipend which was not paid.
Season of Concern
  – Offering emergency assistance for any member of the Chicago theater community who is dealing with serious medical issues, including those that may result from COVID-19 infection. 
The Actors Fund– Emergency financial assistance is available for people who are unable to pay their basic living expenses (food/housing/health care) over the next two months. 
Free Online Workshops With Chicago Actors Studio
 – Providing online workshops, private lessons and career counseling.
Anonymous Was A Woman Emergency Relief Grant  – A grant program for women to support artists impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Artist Relief Project – Artly World  – Any artist in any discipline who has been impacted by COVID19-related cancellations and closures may apply for assistance.
COVID-19 Relief Fund – Foundation for Contemporary Arts – A temporary fund to meet the needs of experimental artists who have been impacted by the economic fallout from postponed or canceled performances and exhibitions.
Emergency Grant for Curators – Kinkade Family Foundation