Cook County officials today announced a series of measures waiving various County fines and fees and deferring tax collections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With businesses facing so many challenges and difficulties created by the coronavirus, waiving these fines and fees is the right thing to do,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. She said the measures will improve cash flow for businesses by an estimated $35 million.

Cook County Chief Financial Officer Ammar Rizki said, “We must do whatever possible to assist the businesses that serve as the backbone of our local economy.”

Under the relief package, due dates for Home Rule Taxes like the Alcoholic Beverage Tax, Amusement Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gasoline and Hotel Accommodations Tax will be pushed back as will numerous fines and fees under the jurisdictions of the Departments of Transportation and Highways, Environment and Sustainability, Revenue, Building and Zoning and Public Health. A full list of the measures is available online.

Jack Lavin, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said letting employers defer tax payments to Cook County will give them “access to additional cash flow needed to overcome the current loss in business and keep people employed.”

Earlier this week Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new emergency assistance programs for Illinois small businesses.

They include a Hospitality Emergency Grant Program help smaller bar, restaurant and hotel businesses cover payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery.

Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, and recipients will be chosen via a lottery. More information is available on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.

DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation are establishing the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses low interest loans of up to $50,000.

Small businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 are eligible
Businesses can receive a low interest loan of up to $50,000 with a 5 year repayment period with no payments due for the first six months
Loans can be used to support working capital

Starting Friday, , interested businesses will be able to express interest at a form that will be posted here.

And, the City of Evanston has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources for small businesses at its Evanston Edge website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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