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Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund on Thursday. (File photo.)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot creates $100M coronavirus relief fund for small businesses

Low-interest loans of up to $50K available for employers of 50 or less

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced a $100 million relief package for small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including restaurants.

The new Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund was created in partnership with the Catalyst Fund and other private sponsors. It will offer low-interest loans to severely impacted businesses with fewer than 50 employees, targeting historically under-resourced communities, and the city is hoping to expand available funding with more philanthropic contributions.

The mayor’s package also includes extended due dates for business-related tax payments until April 30.

“Chicago’s small businesses are the heart of our economy and critical to the life of our neighborhoods,” said Lightfoot in a statement. “We know this isn’t business as usual and we don’t have the luxury to wait for federal support, which is why with these initial investments, we’re ensuring local business owners and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to survive.”

Chicago small businesses typically only have enough cash to operate for five days or less, according to Lightfoot’s office.

The emergency fund will lend up to $50,000 in working capital to neighborhood entrepreneurs to help support rent and payroll expenses. The city will be working with a network of Community  Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, who will be responsible for screening applications, credit underwriting, loan disbursements and servicing.

Eligible businesses must have experienced more than 25% revenue declines due to the impact from COVID-19. Applications will be accepted starting March 31. In the meantime, business owners are encouraged to fill out an interest form and a city representative will reach out on next steps.

The mayor’s office said the city is also temporarily suspending debt collection and deferring all business fine collections, as well as license renewal and late fees until April 30, as well as suspending all non-public-safety-related business penalties.

Restaurant taxes and other taxes are also extended to April 30.

“We feel the weight of the challenges that restaurants in Chicago now face,” said Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, in a statement. “While the city must do everything to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens, these businesses depend on our support, which is why I applaud Mayor Lightfoot for carrying the mantle and bringing relief to our business community.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout


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