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News: IRA News

Senate Vote Pending, Small Restaurant Grants, Mixed Drinks

Wednesday, March 25, 2020  
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The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to engage with local, state, and federal officials to help our employers and employees address concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please see the below resources and information for your business - updated as of 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25.



Senate Nears Vote on Bipartisan Relief Package, House Unanimous Vote to Approve Expected Tomorrow


The Senate vote on the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package has been delayed, but is still expected later tonight. The House is expected to vote tomorrow on the package.

Click here for a breakdown of the Senate package.

The IRA and other stakeholders fought to ensure that the definition of business (500 or less employees per legal entity) is included in this Phase 3 relief package.

The package includes $377 billion in benefits for small businesses, nonprofits, and workers. More details are below on how your business or nonprofit can benefit from the relief package:

  • You qualify if you are: S corp, a C corp, non-profit, partnership, sole practitioner, LLC, etc. with 500 employees or fewer per entity

  • This is a grant, not a loan, if a nonprofit or business can show they used the funds to cover payroll and business related expenses like rent/mortgage, utilities, etc. (back dates to February 15) 

  • 1099s, independent contractors and subcontractors are covered 

  • Mechanism: Loans (grants) would be immediately available through existing Small Business Administration-certified lenders (7a program), including banks, credit unions, CDFI and other existing lenders. 

  • The size of the loans would equal 250% of an employer’s average monthly payroll; business-related expenses and other debt obligations over the previous year.

  • Conditional upon business or nonprofit retaining their employees and payroll levels during the covered period, the portion of the loan used to cover payroll and payments on pre-existing debt would be 100% forgiven.

  • The maximum loan amount is $10 million and the SBA Express loans increased from $350,000 to $1 million with an average of a 36 hour turn-around. 

This plan gets cash quickly to small businesses, nonprofits and their workers because it respects the existing mechanism by which they operate their businesses and reduces bureaucracy. We sincerely thank Chairman Marco Rubio, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Durbin, Sen. Collins, Sen. Shaheen, and Chairwoman Nydia Velasquez for their tireless efforts on this legislation.

The Phase 3 package is almost to the finish line!

Send a note to the U.S. House to make sure they pass a Phase 3 package that guarantees small businesses and their employees receive the most possible relief.



DCEO Grants for Small Restaurants With Under $1 Million in Revenue in 2019


To help small hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes. 

Grant funds are available to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery.

Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.

These grants will provide aid to the smallest operations in the hospitality segment, and every dollar helps during this time of crisis. The IRA appreciates this effort from DCEO, and will continue to advocate at the federal level for broad-based economic relief for the state’s 25,000+ eating and drinking establishments and their employees.

Businesses can submit an application online here.

Applications for awards will be accepted until 5:00pm on April 1, and winners will be chosen via a lottery. Therefore, there is no benefit to submitting an application first as long as a valid, complete application is received by the deadline.



Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund, Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program - Available This Friday


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

Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. 

Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term. Starting this Friday, March 27, interested businesses will be able to express interest at a form that will be posted here.

DCEO has also announced the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. This new $20 million program supports small businesses in suburban and rural counties across Illinois, providing grants of up to $25,000 to small businesses in communities served by DCEO's Office of Community Development.

These grants will offer businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. The program redeploys Community Development Block Grant funds to support local small businesses.

Applications will be available on DCEO's website by Friday, March 27. The grants will be offered on a rolling basis.



Mixed Drinks/Cocktails for Take Out And Delivery


The IRA has discussed the issue of selling pre-mixed cocktails for delivery/carry-out with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC).

During this unprecedented time, restaurants and bars would understandably like to pursue as many revenue streams as possible. For those who do not sell beer or wine, or focus exclusively on mixology, selling professionally mixed cocktails is one such possible avenue.

The ILCC is conducting research to determine the viability of revising current regulations while ensuring consumer health and safety. We will continue to engage and keep members updated.



Gift Card Donations Needed for Illinois Healthcare Workers, Elderly Populations


The state of Illinois is currently seeking donations of restaurant gift cards for front-line healthcare workers and others in high need such as elderly populations.

Please email in order to donate a gift card today.



ServSafe Guidance on Safe Delivery and Takeout, Free Food Handler Training


Food safety training and education are more critical now than ever before.

With this in mind, ServSafe will be releasing two new free training videos to reinforce safe food handling during the coronavirus outbreak. These are: ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions and ServSafe Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions.

Click here to register to watch the free training videos.

In addition, to support restaurant workers on the front line, ServSafe is making its standard, ANSI-accredited, online ServSafe Food Handler training program available free of charge through April 30, 2020. 


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