The Wilmette Village Board is leading by example on how North Shore communities can help local small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—by passing its own $375,000 relief package this past week.
The program, which utilizes municipal sales tax rebates, will provide immediate financial support to restaurants, retail stores, and other local businesses. It is one of the only locally funded programs in the area.
“We recognize that COVID-19 has placed a substantial burden on the Village’s small business community. This program will provide funds for businesses that need help now making payroll or paying suppliers,” said Wilmette Village President Bob Bielinski.
Eligible businesses must meet certain requirements in order to be considered for a grant. These include: a current and valid Village of Wilmette Business License; business operations must have not permanently ceased as of the date the funds are dispersed; the business must generate municipal sales tax as part of its operations and sales; and municipal sales tax eligible revenue must have not been below $50,000 or above $7.5 million in 2019.
In addition, only businesses that are not part of a franchise or a chain of more than four units will be considered. Eligible businesses must be open to the general public and cannot be a home occupation. Businesses must also have suffered a minimum of a 15 percent decrease in municipal sales tax eligible items from March 21 to the application date in comparison to the same time frame in 2019.
The Village’s grant program is easy to apply for, with a goal of getting funds to business owners quickly to cover payroll, suppliers, service providers, and utilities. An application can be found on The Village of Wilmette’s website and submitted to [email protected].
Many local businesses were forced to close their doors or change their operations to offsite on March 21 as a result of Governor JB Pritzker’s Stay at Home Executive Order which currently extends through April 30.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved the State of Illinois’ eligibility for disaster assistance loans after Governor Pritzker submitted documentation of more than 3,000 businesses across the state impacted by COVID-19. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest SBA Disaster Loans.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is also working to provide emergency assistance to small businesses through its Hospitality Emergency Grant Program, Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund, and Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program.
Bielinski explains, “As a local government, Wilmette has the ability to move faster than the federal and state governments, which are implementing more substantial financial assistance programs for small businesses. The intent of this program is to put money into the hands of businesses immediately so they can continue to remain in business until they are able to access those larger programs.”
For more information on The Village of Wilmette’s Economic Relief Package, visit wilmette.com/village-managers-off ice/covid-19-information-response-and-resources/covid-19-community-response/covid-19-business-response.