City Coordinating with Governor’s Office to Assist Local Economy
Extensive Small Business Support Initiatives under Consideration to Address Impacts of Pandemic
March 17, 2020 -- The City of Highland Park (City) has been actively coordinating with federal, state and local officials to address the challenges posed by the pandemic to public health and our local economy, particularly small businesses. As has been reported, social distancing is critical to reducing strains on healthcare providers as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The State and City both have taken difficult steps to reinforce social distancing through an Executive Order by Governor JB Pritzker prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more and closure of dine-in facilities in restaurants and bars, and an Emergency Order from Mayor Nancy Rotering directing the closure of health clubs, recreational clubs, and theaters. While these steps focus on our public health, both the State and City recognize the financial hardship such closures present to local businesses.
City representatives have been in communication with business leaders along with State and Federal representatives, urging support for stimulus funding to help small businesses to get through the operational challenges posed by COVID-19. On a call this afternoon hosted by the Governor’s Office with local representatives, First Assistant Deputy Governor for Budget and Economy Lisa Duarte explained that the State is working on several potential efforts to provide relief to restaurants and bars impacted by the closure of dine-in facilities. She emphasized that the State is researching different business assistance packages and assessing the impacts on the State budget and economy, but is working as expeditiously as possible.
The Governor’s Office is evaluating the following statewide considerations to assist small businesses during the ongoing public health restrictions:
- Extending time before a business is blacklisted for non-payment of bills for alcohol receivables
- Allowing late payments for sales, liquor, and hotel tax payments
- Delaying deadlines for license fees and eliminating late fees
- Working with alcohol distributors to allow food establishments to return unopened beer, wine and spirits
- Crafting policies to trigger business interruption insurance
- Reducing property taxes
- Assistance with mortgage and rent abatement
- Prohibit evictions during the pandemic
- Working with utilities and telecommunications companies to not cut services for non-payment and waiving late fees
- Payroll tax credits
- Expanding the unemployment collection period
The Governor’s Office also announced that they are working with the federal government on a stimulus package to support the restaurant, hospitality, and tourism sectors. The Governor’s Office has also taken steps to help individuals facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic by adding additional staffing to unemployment offices and by waiving the waiting period for unemployment eligibility.
It is important to note that all of these initiatives are still under consideration and not yet adopted policy. Moreover, the Governor’s Office is open to additional suggestions and can be contacted at 312-814-2121.
The City continues to work around the clock to provide COVID-19 updates as they impact the community. The City website offers a wide array of resources and information pertaining to the ongoing pandemic in the community at www.cityhpil.com/covid-19.
The City has compiled a list of local restaurants and businesses that are offering pick-up and delivery options. Residents are encouraged to support the local economy by taking advantage of the many delivery or pick-up opportunities available from businesses in the City.Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have emphasized that no community is immune to COVID-19 and none of these difficult decisions are taken lightly. It is vitally important to continue social distancing, but we can still support our local economy by ordering carry-out or delivery.