LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — The coronavirus is weakening the health of countless small businesses.
On Monday, the State of Illinois announced a $250 million small business loan fund that will offer short-term loans for the businesses that cannot stay open right now.
For the City of Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week announced millions in emergency low interest loans to help them get by.
But as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reported Monday, some small business owners, and some main streets in suburban villages such as Libertyville, are unsure if that’s the best medicine to help them survive.
Several businesses have closed, but those still open have reduced sales and staff. Some can get help form the city’s new small business loan. But business all over the state are asking is a loan enough.
They are making coordinated “no touch” hygienic pickups at Hewn Bakery, at 810 Dempster St. in Evanston. Bread orders now taken only online and the shop that was thriving two weeks ago, has cut staff.
‘We had to cut hours and six people,” said Julie Matthei of Hewn Bakery. “It was a really bad day. A really bad day.”
The emotions at Hewn not unlike those at countless scaled back small businesses in Illinois. Word of possible loans to get them through only goes so far.
“We really could use some tax breaks,” Matthei said. “Payroll tax cut, sales tax cut. Anything to shave off the costs we made willingly and freely.”
In Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot on Thursday unveiled the $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund. But applications for the low interest loans won’t be accepted until March 31.
The owners at Cafe Selmarie, 4729 N. Lincoln Ave., are benefiting from new delayed sales tax deadlines for Illinois restaurants. But the costs of operating at all forced owners to close.
“It was so hard,” said Burgit Kobaayashi of Cafe Selmarie. “A loan will help but I need $50k by next Tuesday.”
Up the street in Lincoln Square, Timeless Toys, 4749 N. Lincoln Ave, has closed its doors and switched to online sales. Owners said beyond loans, a tax delay like that granted restaurants would help.
“Depending on how long this will last, financial hardships will get harder and harder,” said Scott Friedland of Timeless Toys.
“All these sales taxes that’s limiting cash flow to businesses that don’t have cash to operate,” Friedland said.
The state’s loan will be administered through banks and credit unions. For the city, users will apply directly. But applicants won’t be able to submit their applications until the end of the month.
Gerasole has also been digging into the application process for small business loans, and he found something curious. There are hoops that one has to jump through, but they are hoops that are aimed at keeping as many people employed as possible.
For the city’s loans, a business owner may apply for a loan of up to $50,000 and has five years to pay it back, but 50 percent of each loan has to go toward payroll, and 50 percent of the business’ workforce has to be kept employed.
As to whether more than $50,000 is a possibility, the mayor has put out a call to numerous businesses and philanthropists to contribute to the city’s fund. If that happens, more money could theoretically be opened up.
Meanwhile, many are running into problems when it comes to filing for unemployment. Last week, 64,000 people in the State of Illinois were trying to do so.
Some report they try to navigate online and are then directed to call the unemployment office. They follow prompts on an automated menu and end up getting a message that the call center is receiving too many calls and cannot take their call.