Libertyville to offer $500 business grants to offset pandemic costs
Libertyville will be offering $500 grants to as many as 200 businesses to help offset costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
The business stabilization grant program will be funded with $100,000 from the pending federal American Rescue Plan. Notification and application measures to roll out the program are being formalized now so the process flows smoothly when funding becomes available later this summer.
Program details and applications will be made available on the village website. Advertising through social media and other channels is planned.
"We don't want to precede (the arrival of funding) too much," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator.
The village later this summer expects to receive $1.25 million as the first installment of its share of federal funding for state and local governments. An equal amount is expected next year.
Uses for the money were identified in April. About $947,000 of the initial funding will be used as revenue replacement in the village's general fund, which pays for day-to-day expenses. Funding also will help offset lost revenues in the hard-hit hotel/motel and commuter parking funds.
Village leaders directed $100,000 be used to support businesses affected by pandemic-related expenses. Because of limited funding, the village staff recommended smaller payments be made to a larger number of businesses rather than the other way around.
The resulting program will provide $500 grants to 200 local businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to businesses in commercial districts with walk-in traffic, including restaurants, retail shops and those offering personal services.
"I'm happy to hear that priority will be given to businesses that rely heavily on walk-in customer traffic," said Jennifer Johnson, executive director of MainStreet Libertyville, a downtown revitalization and marketing organization.
Johnson said the grants will help especially because many small businesses did not qualify for or receive state or federal funds.
Applicants for the new program won't have to produce receipts but must certify their businesses had expanses or losses beyond those covered by other federal or state grants. Applicants would be subject to a village audit if required.
Reimbursable expenses include PPE, air filtration or sanitary/safety equipment, spoiled food, and maintenance or utilities due to closure or reduced hours.
The biggest category covers temporary or permanent alterations to address health effects and allow for safe operation. Among the eligible expenses are modifications to add or expand pickup or delivery services, measures needed for social distancing, and purchase or rental of tents, heaters or furniture for outdoor seating.
Johnson said five downtown businesses closed as a result of the pandemic but four others have opened.
"Most of them have seemed to be able to weather the storm, but they're still dealing with after the storm impacts," Rowe said.