The Cook County COVID-19 Recovery: Small Business Assistance program provides support for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers advising for small businesses in Cook County and grants for small businesses in suburban Cook County and the unincorporated areas.

Weather the crisis and maintain operations and employees

Pivot their business model to fit the current climate

Safely serve their customers

Providing relief to small businesses to help:

 

 THREE TYPES OF RELIEF

 

1

Group webinars serve as guided, interactive sessions that start to get you thinking about how your business has been impacted and how you may want to pivot your business. 

2

Cook County - Chicago Business Advising Program, also known as technical assistance (TA), helps you address the unique needs of your business, including acquiring new capital and customers, understanding financial, change and risk management, adjusting business models, and operating under new safety regulations. 

Cook County Recovery Grants (application closed) – $10,000 recovery grants for businesses in suburban Cook County that have seen losses due to COVID-19 (see full eligibility requirements below). 

3

 
 

   COOK COUNTY - CHICAGO BUSINESS ADVISING 

   PROGRAM

  • Businesses located in municipalities within the City of Chicago or suburban Cook County , and the unincorporated areas of Cook County

  • Focus on businesses:

    • Located in low-to-moderate-income areas

    • With 20 or fewer employees

 

  • Completed application form which includes:

  • Basic business information

  • A description of the impact of COVID-19 on the business (including revenue)

   COOK COUNTY RECOVERY GRANT

  • Businesses located in municipalities within suburban Cook County and in the unincorporated areas

  • Businesses with 20 or fewer employees

  • Sales reduced (>20%) by COVID-19 in any month from March-July vs. February 2020

  • Businesses who have not received federal funding in the past, or businesses that have received federal funding and intend to use the Cook County Recovery Grant for expenses different than what federal funding was used for

  • For-profit small businesses only are eligible (non-profit organizations are not eligible)

  • May not have an IRS tax lien or other judgment(s) against it and the business owners or partners may not be currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings

  • Businesses located in municipalities within suburban Cook County and in the unincorporated areas

  • Businesses with 20 or fewer employees

  • Sales reduced (>20%) by COVID-19 in any month from March-July vs. February 2020

  • Businesses who have not received federal funding in the past, or businesses that have received federal funding and intend to use the Cook County Recovery Grant for expenses different than what federal funding was used for

  • For-profit small businesses only are eligible (non-profit organizations are not eligible)

  • May not have an IRS tax lien or other judgment(s) against it and the business owners or partners may not be currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings

 
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HOW TO APPLY

Applications for grants have closed.

Business advising applications are open.

Business owners will be matched with Business Support Organizations listed below to complete and submit an application.

FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO APPLY FOR THE BUSINESS ADVISING PROGRAM

STEP 1

Fill out this form with your contact details

to get matched with a Business Support Organization.

STEP 2

Your Business Support Organization will reach out

within seven days with next steps to schedule a consultation

WHAT ORGANIZATIONS ARE INVOLVED?

 

FOUNDING ORGANIZATIONS

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FUNDING & ADVOCACY PARTNERS

Funding for this program is made possible with the generous support of our partners:

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REFERRAL PARTNERS

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much is the pool of funding for this program?


The pool of funding for this grant program is $12.6M.




Do businesses located in Chicago qualify for the grant?


No. Grants are allocated to businesses located in Cook County outside of Chicago.




Do businesses in all industries qualify?


Yes, with a few exceptions. Businesses across most sectors are eligible to apply, including independently owned franchises. Businesses that are not eligible include, but may not be limited to:

  • Adult bookstores
  • Massage parlors
  • Strip clubs
  • Astrology, palm reading
  • Branch banks
  • Junk yards
  • Liquor stores, night clubs
  • Marijuana dispensaries
  • Pawn shops
  • Pay day loan stores
  • Track waging facilities
  • Trailer-storage yards
  • Any uses similar to those listed above
  • Vape and tobacco shops, gambling businesses, dult entertainment businesses




Who is the primary point of contact for questions regarding the program?


This webpage is the central point of contact for all questions related to the program. If business owners are interested in applying, they should submit the Get Matched form here to be connected to a Business Support Organization (BSO) to apply. The BSO can help answer questions related to eligibility and the application process.




I received funding from the federal COVID-19 assistance programs (PPP or EIDL) but they do not adequately cover my business. Can I still apply for funding through this program?


You may be eligible, depending on what you plan to use the Recovery Grant for versus your intended use of PPP or EIDL funding. You cannot receive government funding for the same expense multiple times. Therefore, if you received funding from a program like PPP for a specific expense, then you are not eligible to receive Recovery Grant funding from the Small Business Assistance Program for those same expenses.




Will all eligible applicants receive grant dollars?


No. Businesses will be scored using additional criteria and enter a lottery program if they exceed expected score thresholds.




When should grant recipients expect to be notified of their grant award?


Given the robust process of reviewing applications, we aim to notify grant recipients.




If a business does not qualify for the grant, are there any other resources or referrals that will be made to help that business?


Our intention is to help businesses through this tough period. If a business is not funded through the program, the business should maintain a relationship with the BSO provider, who should be able to provide technical assistance on general operating matters. There is a small business resource guide with resources for businesses here.




Who is eligible for Cook County Recovery Grants?


  • Businesses located in municipalities within suburban Cook County
  • Businesses with 20 or fewer employees
  • Sales reduced (>20%) by COVID-19 in any month from March-July vs. February 2020
  • Businesses who have not received federal funding in the past, or businesses that have received federal funding and intend to use the Cook County Recovery Grant for expenses different than what federal funding was used for
  • For-profit small businesses only are eligible (non-profit organizations are not eligible)
  • May not have an IRS tax lien or other judgment(s) against it and the business owners or partners may not be currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings




What can I use the funding for?


The grant may be used for payroll, operating expenses, lease or rent payments, modifications that are required for complying with reopening guidelines, and inventory acquisition vital to the business. Funds cannot be used for capital improvements, taxes, or personal expenses.




Does the grant application approval process involve a credit check or personal guarantee requirement?


No.




How do I demonstrate that I've lost at least 20 percent of revenue in any month since February 2020?


This can be shown by comparing February revenue with revenue of the following months March, April, May, June, or July 2020. If you’ve lost more than 20% in any one month since February 2020, you meet that qualification criteria. On the application, you will enter in your revenue for February – July and the application will do the math for you.




What documentation do I need to submit with my grant application?


  • 2019 or latest business tax return.
  • Signed W9.
  • Bank statement from 2020.
  • Photo copy of a valid ID card (Driver’s License, State ID, Passport or Consular ID card are acceptable).




Can business owners with a felony record participate?


Yes.




Are sole proprietors eligible?


Yes.




Can nonprofits apply?


No, our programs are exclusively intended to support for-profit businesses.




Can for-profit businesses owned by a non-profit organization apply?


For-profit businesses owned by non-profits organizations are eligible, as long as they meet all other requirements. The application must be made through the for-profit business, and not the non-profit parent company.




How and when can I apply?


  • Click here to apply for the Business Advising program.
  • Applications for recovery grants have closed.
  • Applications for business advising are currently open.




When will I receive Business Advising support?


All small businesses can receive support right away through our weekly webinars. Webinar participants will also receive self-guided resources to help with their recovery. In addition to weekly webinars, there will be one-on-one Business Advising consultations available to qualified applicants:

For Cook County Recovery Grant applicants, you will be contacted to provide any assistance needed with application. If you are ultimately awarded the grant, you will be required to have a follow up one-on-one Business Advising consultation prior to December, 30 2020.

For Cook County/Chicago Business Advising program participants, the first one-on-one Business Advising consultations will take place after the grant application period has closed on October 6th, 2020 at 5:00p.m. CST (subject to change).




How will one-on-one business advising work?


If you are deemed eligible for the one-on-one business advising work, a BSO will reach out to you within a week of your application to make sure your application is complete and that you have access to key resources, such as webinars and handouts. Following the three-week intake period, a BSO will reach out to set up time with you for a one-on-one meeting to begin your full consulting program.




How are Cook County Recovery Grants different from the Cook County Community Recovery Loan Fund?


  • Community Recovery Loan Fund offers a one-time, zero-interest loan of up to $20,000 for small businesses and up to $10,000 for independent contractors in suburban Cook County.
  • Cook County Recovery COVID-19 Small Business Assistance program offers $10,000 to small businesses with 20 employees or less. Grant recipients will work with our network of providers to receive strategic guidance and business advising to enhance operations.




Can I receive funding from both the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance program and the Cook County Community Recovery Loan Fund?


  • Yes, but you must use the Cook County Recovery Grant for expenses different than what Cook County Recovery Loan funding was used for. This is also true for any other state or federal funding originating through the CARES Act that you may have received through PPP, EIDL, or otherwise.




When is the deadline to submit grant applications?


  • The grant application window closed on October 6th.





TECHNICAL QUESTIONS AND TROUBLESHOOTING HELP

I’m having technical issues with my grant application. Who should I contact for support?


If you have any questions and/or are encountering technical difficulties, please review information to troubleshoot your situation at the following link. For more specific technical questions please reach out to Submittable’s Customer Support team at support@submittable.com. For questions specific to your application, you can reply to your Business Support Organization.