Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today signed an executive order to create an emergency relief fund for businesses and 1099 workers in suburban Cook County to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county will seed an initial $10 million for the fund, which will grant loans to gig workers and small businesses.

The county this week also launched a technical assistance program to help suburban small businesses and contract workers apply for loans through the federal CARES Act.

“Unprecedented problems call for unprecedented solutions,” said President Preckwinkle. “Small businesses and entrepreneurs are at the heart of the towns and villages throughout Cook County, and my administration will do all it can to support them through this dark time. This virus may dictate our present, but it will not write our future.”

The new fund created by Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development will offer one-time, zero-interest loans to suburban Cook County small businesses with up to 25 employees and to suburban Cook County residents who make more than half their income in 1099 contract employment.

The loans will be up to $20,000 for small businesses and $10,000 for individuals, and the fund will be administered by the Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF) with the support of several community lenders who will distribute the funds.

The County plans to open applications for the Community Recovery Fund by mid-April. More information is available at

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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