Cook County announces $10 million COVID-19 relief fund for suburban businesses, gig workers

Cook County announces $10 million COVID-19 relief fund for suburban businesses, gig workers

Wearing a protective mask, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announces the county’s Community Recovery Fund, aimed at helping small businesses and independent contractors during the coronavirus crisis. | Provided.

The Community Recovery Fund, which is part of the county’s community recovery initiative, will offer one time, zero interest loans to small businesses with up to 25 employees and independent contractors who make up to half their income from their contracting work in the county’s suburbs.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a $10 million immediate relief fund for suburban businesses and gig workers on Tuesday, building on ongoing efforts crafted to help those hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This fund has been designed to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable local businesses and workers during the pandemic,” Preckwinkle said.

Wearing a protective face mask, the board president announced the latest economic relief effort at a news conference at the County Building. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Preckwinkle required other officials participating in the conference to also wear masks, a spokesman said.

The Community Recovery Fund, which is part of the county’s community recovery initiative, will offer one-time zero interest loans to small businesses with up to 25 employees and independent contractors who make up to half their income from their contracting work in the county’s suburbs. Loans for small businesses could be as high as $20,000, while contractors can apply for up to $10,000 starting in mid-April.

The fund will be administered by the Chicago Community Loan Fund. The county is investing $10 million into the fund and hopes to augment it with dollars from philanthropists and private sector organizations “to provide loans to as many businesses and gig workers as we possibly can.”

Gig work is generally part-time or temporary and often involves an on-line platform, such as ride-hailing services.

Xochitl Flores, the head of the county’s Bureau of Economic Development, said the designation of resources for suburban Cook is to make sure the county is using resources strategically to help as many businesses as possible.

“This niche and gap that currently exists within suburban Cook County really needed our immediate attention,” Flores said. “We realize that $10 million seeding is an initial start and there will be a greater need, but we’re trying to be impactful in the areas that are currently not able to access other resources.”

Last week, Preckwinkle announced a technical assistance program for “mom-and-pop” businesses, non-profits, gig workers and others to help them get their share of the $377 billion of federal funds set aside to help keep them afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. The first webinar to help people apply for funds will happen Wednesday at noon.

The week before that, Preckwinkle waived some fines and fees, and deferred the collection of some home rule taxes, to help businesses as they deal with coronavirus containment efforts that have forced them to shutter.

Those taxes, which include the alcoholic beverage, amusement, tobacco, gasoline and hotel accommodations taxes, were deferred for the February and March tax periods until May.

No penalties or interest will be applied during the extension period.

Latest Category Posts