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Lightfoot: $100M loan fund for businesses hit by coronavirus
The mayor also announced that schools will stay closed until mid-April to help control the COVID-19 spread

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by A.D. Quig

In a prime-time address, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city is launching a $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund. The fund will provide "targeted, low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses . . . to provide much needed cash flow relief for neighborhood entrepreneurs."

The fund includes a $25 million grant by the city of Chicago, $50 million in capital from the treasurer's Chicago Community Catalyst Fund, $10 million from Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group, $1 million from Fifth Third Bank and $250,000 from Clayco Construction.

Lightfoot also thanked partners at Citadel and Citadel Securities and its CEO, Ken Griffin, who donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools and $1.5 million to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "Ken and others are exhibiting extraordinary civic leadership at its finest," the mayor said. Read the mayor's full speech below.

Lightfoot announced tonight that Chicago Public Schools will remain closed until April 20, with students returning April 21.

She also invited and urged others from the business and philanthropic communities to contribute to the fund. "It is a meaningful way to help our small businesses meet payroll, avoid layoffs and survive under extraordinarily dire circumstances."

Lightfoot said she's providing small businesses "further relief" by extending due dates for several city taxes until April 30, on bottled water and checkout bags, as well as the amusement, hotel accommodation, restaurant and parking taxes.

The mayor also called on banks to grant foreclosure relief during the crisis and property owners to "give tenants some grace, wherever possible during these trying times. No one needs the added stress of evictions, certainly not now." She thanked Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for delaying eviction enforcement until the end of April.

Lightfoot reiterated her belief that Chicago's finances can withstand the economic hit from the coronavirus and reminded consumers she's suspended the booting of cars, collection of late fees and defaults on payment plans for all city debt, administrative court dates and debt checks for ride-hailing and taxi drivers through April 30.

Thanking Illinois' congressional delegation for pushing relief in Washington, the mayor said "federal stimulus packages must bring immediate relief to individuals, not just big businesses, through help like extending and increasing unemployment benefits and more grants and loans to small businesses," and that the fallout from the virus "can only be solved with billions" from the federal government.

The city has survived heat waves, polar vortexes, recessions, depressions, two World Wars and the Great Fire, the mayor said, but "moved forward together," and the local economy "bounced back strong and quickly from those downturns."

"Resiliency and resolve are baked into our DNA, and, as a people, this is our moment to prove to ourselves and a nation that in Chicago, we may get bent, but we will never be broken."

The fund will begin accepting applications here on March 31. To be eligible, businesses must attest to a more than 25 percent revenue decrease due to COVID-19, employ fewer than 50 workers and have gross revenues of less than $3 million in 2019. Businesses will have to provide bank statements dating back to October 2019 and their most recent tax return.



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