Bartlett program aims to help struggling small businesses
Bartlett officials have implemented a Small Business Relief Program they believe to be the first of its kind in the Northwest suburbs to help sustain the village's independently owned restaurants and stores through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They're an integral part of any community," Village President Kevin Wallace said of small businesses. "Talk about changing the dynamic of the village."
The village's new program was inspired by one in Wilmette. What gave Bartlet a head start was the village already had funds earmarked for business development that could be temporarily diverted to this new purpose, Economic Development Coordinator Tony Fradin said.
The funding source is the village's video gambling tax revenue that normally goes to the Bartlett Economic Development Assistance (BEDA) program for grants to help with capital improvements and the like in the private sector.
The amount of that money set aside for the new program -- $221,000 -- is equal to 25% of the village's sales tax revenue from last year.
Open for only 90 days, the relief program seeks to replace some of businesses' lost income based upon the difference in sales taxes they generated during the pandemic so far and the same time period last year.
The cap was set at $10,000 per business, though only a few in the village would be eligible for as high as about $9,000, Fradin said.
Only about 75 small businesses in Bartlett would be eligible for any relief, he added, among a total of 350 commercial locations in the village. A small business was defined as one earning a maximum of $2 million in annual income, while franchises and home-based businesses were automatically excluded from the program.
The pandemic has caused some small businesses, such as restaurants, to barely hang on through pickup and delivery service; others, such as nonessential stores and services, have had to shut down temporarily due to social-distancing requirements.
The point of the program is to keep all these businesses alive for the future, Fradin said. And so a personal guarantee is required that a business will reopen for at least 30 days after restrictions are lifted or a full refund of the grant will be demanded within 10 days.
While some of the assistance grants provided by other, nonmunicipal governments during the current crisis have prohibited their use for rent payments, the Bartlett program does allow the money to be spent on rent or any other operational cost.
For information about the program, visit village.bartlett.il.us/government/administration/economic-development/coronavirus-covid-19-bartlett-business-guidance-resources.