Illinois small businesses hit by government-ordered shutdowns can start applying for federal help this week

(The Center Square) – There are a lot of options for Illinois’ small businesses to choose from in finding assistance through the economic downturn from the government restrictions on certain businesses imposed to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bruce Sommer, with the University of Illinois at Springfield, hosted a call Wednesday with various experts to talk about the impact on small businesses from the COVID-19 crisis.

“The effect on the economy of putting them out of business never before has I think any of us on this call experience that: Government coming in and shutting us down deliberately in this way,” Sommer said.

Small businesses have a number of government programs to consider.

Kevin Lust with the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College said there are state programs that can range from loans for a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. More information about what’s available from the state can be found at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

But the most immediate help, Lust said, is likely to come from the Small Business Administration through the federal government.

“Not to diminish the state of Illinois programs at all, they’re wonderful, they’re somewhat limited in their funding, however,” Lust said.

He noted trillions of dollars is set to go out to the economy from the federal government, but there are a lot of moving pieces.

“This is like changing a tire on a moving car,” Lust said. “And that’s true about the details, but the goal is stationary. The goal is how can we move people through the process fast enough so they can get the funds they need to keep the businesses open and operating.”

More information about what’s available from the federal government for small businesses can be found at the Small Business Administration’s website.

Lust said small businesses should start applying for available programs and getting things together as soon as possible.

“Get in, make your application, do everything it takes to be in line and then use this time to educate yourself about,” Lust said. “Alright, looking forward, ‘what are my best options, what are my best approaches.’”

One program the federal government approved last week and the president enacted is a loan at point-five percent interest that turns into a grant if 75 percent of that is used for payroll. He said a lot of banks are taking part in the program, but others aren’t. He suggests starting with your local lender.

“So, please give them some credit. Be patient with your lender,” Lust said. “They’re going to be receiving a lot of calls and a lot of emails and a lot of personal visits over the next couple of days.”

More guidelines about other programs from the federal government are expected Friday.

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