Cook County launches new small business assistance program amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cook County has unveiled a new effort to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns and other pandemic issues.
Cook County has unveiled a new effort to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns and other pandemic issues. Photo credit Cook County Government

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Cook County has unveiled a new effort to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns and other pandemic issues.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison, and other county leaders announced Wednesday the launch of the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery: Small Business Assistance Program, a business advising, education, and grant program designed to help small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle led the announcement at the Thornton Distillery Company, one of the companies that could benefit from the program.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and employ thousands of our residents," Preckwinkle said. "This program provides $12.6 million in grants to suburban small businesses. This program also provides $2.4 million to create a free business advising and education program for businesses across the city and suburbs of Cook County."

The Program offers small businesses the following:

• Optional educational webinars to assist small businesses in repositioning their business towards recovery

• One-on-one business advising, or technical assistance, to help small businesses address their unique needs resulting from COVID-19

• Standardized curriculum, intake, and other impact measurement tools to ensure continuous program improvement and consistent impact reporting and accountability

• Cook County Recovery grants of up to $10,000 for businesses that have seen losses due to COVID-19 in suburban Cook County and the unincorporated areas

“This Program provides both financial assistance coupled with a robust network of over 35 organizations in both the city and the suburbs dedicated to providing support to small businesses. Our community’s recovery will take dedication and participation from the public, private and philanthropic sectors,” said Economic Development Bureau Chief Xochitl Flores. “Through the combined efforts, resources, and collaboration with business leaders and philanthropic leaders in our community, this effort is helping us close the gap and provides support for small businesses to come out stronger.”

Commissioner Donna Miller, who represents the area, said many small businesses, which are often the life’s blood of their neighborhoods didn’t have the connections, the knowledge or the credit necessary to take part in early federal aid. This program means to correct that.

"They didn't have access to the resources to apply quickly, and the money was not there, as well as pre-existing relationships they didn't have with large banks, who control the access to the program," Miller said.

For more information about eligibility and program requirements, if you are a Small Business located in either the City of Chicago or suburban Cook interested in receiving business advising, or you are a Suburban Cook County small businesses interested in recovery grants, go here to apply and get information: cookcountysmallbusinessassistance.com