The Community Recovery Initiative – Chicago’s COVID19 Program (Revised May 5, 2020)

As part of our continuing coverage on COVID-19, we wanted to let you know about the COVID-19 Community Recovery Initiative. On April 6, 2020, Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development launched The Community Recovery Fund. This fund is a part of the Community Recovery Initiative, a $100,000,000 program for Chicago Small Business. In short, these loans offer a one-time, zero-interest loan of up to $20,000 for small businesses. Further, they offer up to $10,000 for independent contractors. Anyone in Chicago and in suburban Cook County affected by COVID19 may apply if they meet some limited criteria.

With that said, these loans will be administered by the Chicago Community Loan Fund. Therefore, the loans will be provided by a network of community lenders. Additionally, Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development expects the applications to open in mid-April on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Who can get a Community Recovery Initiative Loan?

To start, these loans are different from the CARES Act loans or the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans we discussed in our earlier Coronavirus Guide. So, this program is specific to Cook County, different from what either Illinois or the Federal Government is doing. Now, many counties throughout the country are putting out these loans, specifically for local business. Here, I will walk you through how to get these loans unique to Chicagoland:

Small Businesses

If you are a small business, you will need to meet the following factors for Community Recovery Initiative Loan eligibility. You can find the application here – and we will link it again in the Sources section.

  • Fewer than 25 employees
  • Less than $3 million in revenue
  • Located in Cook County
  • COVID-19 Interruption to business such as reduced customers, forced closures, or interruption of service

Cook County is also offering a FREE seminar on how the Paycheck Protection Program will provide relief to local businesses. You can sign up for that program here. It will run on April 8, 2020, from 9:30 to 11:00 am Central Time.

If you apply for this loan, you can get relief by next week of up to $20,000 for your business. This money comes directly from banks that lend in our community. However, further details are a bit light at this time.

Independent Contractors

If you are self-employed or contract with a business for services, Cook County did not leave you behind. Accordingly, the Community Recovery Initiative loans provide for $10,000 for self-employed individuals and gig-workers who need help during this crisis.

  • Gig Workers, such as professional services businesses or the self-employed
  • Individual filing resides in Cook County
  • COVID-19 Interruption to your work such as reduced clients, forced closures, or interruption of payment
  • At least half of all income from 1099 contract work
  • Less than $100,000 in gross annual income

Again, the same webinars and forms should be used with independent contractors as with small businesses. If you are self-employed, you can use this program to apply for $10,000 of loans.

Cook County’s Technical Assistance Program for Community Recovery Initiative Applicants

Cook County’s Board of Governors will provide ongoing technical assistance to businesses that apply for Community Recovery Initiative loans. Further, the Board is creating a task force to keep us up to date with state, local and federal programs. The Cook County TAP is responsible for more than local guidance. They are the go-to agency for CARES, the PPP, Illinois’s Small Business Emergency Loan Fund. It is an excellent idea to have a specialized response agency that helps the public navigate these programs.

The Technical Assistance Network will provide guidance on how to bounce back from the COVID19 financial crisis. This agency should be responsible for many areas, including:

  • Loan Packaging
  • Retraining
  • Access to Funding
  • Guidance on Application and Repayment
  • Financial Recovery

We found a town-hall that TAP will host with the Small Business Administration on April 8, 2020, from 11:00 am to noon Central. Details were light on what would be discussed. As a result, we will be updating this article tomorrow, once we know more.

Property Tax Relief – Community Recovery Initiative Update

Not every community in Chicagoland is granting property tax relief, but many of them are trying to help the hardest hit among us with property tax relief. We’re breaking it down by a bulleted list, thanks to ABC’s article on the subject.

  • Lake County – No deferment, no relief. Late fees of 1.5% per month.
  • McHenry County – 90 days waiver of late fees.
  • DuPage County – Currently Pending relief discussions to waive June 1 late fees until September 1.
  • Cook, Kane, Will Counties – No Proposals currently pending.


While details are scarce on what Cook County will do for small businesses and independent contractors, help is available. Over $100,000,000 in funds are provided for local small businesses. From these extraordinary circumstances, our elected officials responded with extraordinary programs to try to keep the markets afloat. I hope this article helped you figure out if these programs will help you. Most of all, I hope you, your family and your business weather this storm.



Cook County Community Recovery Initiative – Retrieved April 7, 2020

Illinois’s COVID-19 Response Programs – Cook County Board of Governors Resources Page – Retrieved April 7, 2020

Illinois Property Taxes: Which Communities are Offering Relief – ABC 7 Chicago, April 23, 2020 retrieved May 5, 2020