November 23, 2020 – The City of Highland Park (City) will eliminate and defer certain business fees in an effort to provide relief to small businesses that have sustained significant economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic. To provide direct financial assistance to businesses, the following measures will be implemented beginning Monday, November 23, 2020:
- Waiver of 2021 business registration fees for qualifying businesses occupying 7,000 square feet or less, valued at approximately $30,000
- Waiver of 2021 restaurant licenses, valued at approximately $11,000
- Waiver of 50% of 2021 liquor license fees for Highland Park restaurants and hotels, and deferred payment of the balance until June 30, 2021 valued at approximately $69,000
These measures will benefit all qualifying Highland Park businesses regardless of industry. Eliminating fees provides immediate financial assistance and eases the administrative burden on business owners by streamlining operational processes. City staff will contact business owners who have already submitted payment for the above fees to coordinate reimbursement.
The total value of these new measures is estimated at $110,000. Waivers will be administered as grants through the Financial Aid for Restaurants and Retailers (FARR) grant program, which also allows eligible restaurants and retailers to apply for matching grants to offset qualifying pandemic-related expenses.
“City Council members and City staff understand the significant strain that the pandemic has placed on small business owners. By eliminating and deferring City fees to provide direct cash relief for small business owners, we are using all available means to help our businesses weather the storm,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “Highland Park’s restaurants, retailers, service and fitness businesses have faced enormous challenges this year, and we encourage all residents to shop locally this holiday season. With safe and convenient options such as virtual personal shopping and fitness classes, curbside pickup, and even free local delivery, Highland Park is open for business.”
City Manager Ghida Neukirch stated, “In addition to direct financial assistance implemented during 2020 and for 2021, elected officials and City staff continue to support small business owners through open communication, assistance with state and federal loan and grant programs, and marketing support.”
The FARR grant program designates $255,000 in funding to support COVID-19-related operational costs incurred by restaurants and retailers in providing a safe environment for employees and customers. Through the program, qualifying small businesses may apply for reimbursement of up to 50% of eligible expenses related to COVID-19 public health mitigations, to a maximum of $10,000 for restaurants and $5,000 for retailers. Examples include purchasing tents or heaters, installing acrylic barriers, and upgrading ventilation and air circulation systems. Detailed information and applications for the program are available at cityhpil.com.
Other initiatives to support businesses have included the temporary suspension of interest and late fees associated with certain business taxes, no-fee outdoor use permit applications for outdoor dining, merchandising, and fitness classes on the public right-of-way, City-wide marketing campaigns and advertising, and advocacy with state and federal agencies. More information about these and other efforts is available at cityhpil.com.
Questions regarding the elimination and deferral of business registration and license fees may be directed to the Office of Business Development at 847.926.1027. Information about the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available at cityhpil.com/covid-19.