Small businesses will get help from DuPage County program

 
 
Updated 6/23/2020 11:17 AM

Financial help is coming for small businesses across DuPage County that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

County board members today are expected to spend roughly $1.7 million to assist 177 small businesses -- including restaurants, barbershops and nail salons -- through DuPage's Small Business Grant Relief Program, which provides forgivable loans of up to $15,000 to qualifying businesses and independent contractors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"There were a lot of small businesses left out of the benefits of the (federal) Paycheck Protection Program," county board member Robert Larsen said Monday. "Small businesses have always been the engine that drives employment in DuPage County. They need our help."

Choose DuPage administers the grant program with support from the county and local banking and financial experts.

To qualify, a small business must be based in DuPage, have fewer than 15 full-time employees and generate less than $1.5 million in annual revenue. Independent contractors in DuPage who earn less than $100,000 a year also can apply for a forgivable loan of up to $7,500.

Money received under the program may be used for payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other expenses necessary to maintain operations, officials said.

Tuesday's vote on 177 applicants comes two weeks after the county board approved more than $1 million so loans could be provided to 99 small businesses and independent contractors. More loans will be considered by the board in the coming weeks as applications are processed.

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Larsen said the loans are being granted in phases to ensure the county does its due diligence "while getting the money out to the people who need it as quickly as possible."

"We want to make sure we're giving it out responsibly," said Larsen, a Wheaton Republican who serves as chairman of the board's finance committee.

Last month, Choose DuPage received 1,198 applications for the program, officials said. After a pause, officials started accepting applications again on June 12.

The $7 million in initial funding for the program comes from money DuPage received under the federal CARES Act. Now county officials are planning to set aside an additional $10 million for the program.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

An estimated $3 million of the additional money would be used to ensure the county can help all the small businesses that qualified for the first round of loans.

The rest of the money could be used to help businesses that earn up to $3 million in annual revenue, officials said.

"These are still not going to be giant corporations," Larsen said. "They're slightly larger businesses."

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