Grant money available for projects related to COVID-19 for Elgin downtown businesses
Businesses in downtown Elgin will be able to apply for funding for modifications and upgrades needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, an initiative by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin.
The Downtown COVID Adaptation Grant Fund will help businesses fund safety-related expenses, such as plexiglass dividers, and technology upgrades, such as online reservations or in-house online delivery services, said Jennifer Fukala, the association's executive director.
"It's any project that helps them to better and more efficiently operate during the current circumstances, and also through the whole recovery period and ongoing," she said. "That will mean different things for different industries."
The effort so far has collected about $25,000, including $10,000 from the association's budget, $10,000 from the city of Elgin, plus a crowdfunding effort and donors like 79 Ratio and Elgin Beverage Company, Fukala said. "I'm really excited about it," she said. "That's enough money to do something significant that can actually have a big impact."
The association's area includes 325 entities, the vast majority businesses. The grant program is expected to launch in early June with a quick turnaround, she said. "We know the need is now," she said.
The Elgin City Council approved the city's $10,000 contribution earlier this week, making it a point to say the money is not intended for businesses that are planning to close. That was a reference to Dog's Paw Brewing downtown, which closed March 21 and five days later applied for an emergency hospitality grant from the state. The business won a $10,000 grant via a lottery.
Fukala said businesses that apply for the Downtown Neighborhood Association grant money "will have to articulate a plan."
"There will be questions asked about what their previous operating looked like, the current operations and plans for the future," she said. "It's going to be incumbent on them to make a case for how they are going to use that money to advance their business."