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UPDATED AT 1:20 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 13:
YORKVILLE – A total of 18 small Yorkville businesses facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be considered for state financial relief grants as a result of action taken by Yorkville officials this week.
The Yorkville City Council voted, 8-0, to approve the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program grant applications for the 18 businesses during their Tuesday, May 12 remote meeting. All aldermen were present for the remote meeting.
CIty staff said the program is meant to provide working capital funds to community businesses economically impacted by COVID-19 and makes funds available for 60 days of verifiable working capital up to $25,000. Businesses also are required to follow certain criteria to be eligible for the grant funding and the grant could turn into a loan, which the city might have to pay back, if they fail to follow said criteria.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said applications will be processed through the city – meaning the application will be subject to a public hearing with the city. However, he said, the city isn't the one making the award decision.
"And the state has the final say," Purcell said.
Non-essential businesses as classified by the State of Illinois must have been open in Yorkville since Jan. 1, 2017 and ownership of the business must be exactly the same since that date to be eligible for the loan program. Any business that opened after that date is not eligible and franchise businesses also are not eligible. Some essential businesses may apply for the loan if social distancing is limiting the ability to conduct business with customers or clients on a normal basis.
Businesses must have at least one other W2 employee aside from the owner and less than 50 employees to be eligible for the program.
The amount of the loan is based on two months of actual business expenses not exceeding $25,000. The loan can convert to a forgivable grant if the business is able to remain open for at least 60 days after being awarded the funding and uses half of the award funds for payroll expenses and the other half for other working capital.
Sandra Hurtado, licensed esthetician and owner of Harmony Aesthetics, 223 S. Bridge St., said she was in attendance at the virtual meeting where her application for $11,644 in grant funds was approved by the city. She said her business, which has been in business since 2016 and includes three part-time employees other than herself, has been closed since March 14, a week before non-essential businesses were closed to the public per Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order, which currently is in effect until May 30.
“I didn’t want to risk anybody being exposed [to COVID-19 while in] my business,” Hurtado said.
Hurtado said she had to cancel numerous standing appointments with clients due to the state stay-at-home order. She said she basically had to lay off all of her workers until she got her paycheck protection program loan last month.
After receiving the paycheck protection program loan, Hurtado said, she was able to bring back a couple employees, including a spa coordinator to work on social media and marketing and an esthetician to do a deep cleaning of the spa – but only for about four hours per week for each employee.
“Other than that, we’re just not able to operate being a nonessential business,” Hurtado said.
Dr. Brian Berkey, a chiropractor and owner of Advanced Physical Medicine of Yorkville, 207 Hillcrest Ave., also attended the Tuesday meeting as one of the 18 businesses that applied for the grants. He said his request of $25,000 now up for state consideration would be used to pay for fixed expenses like malpractice insurance, software and medical contracts and maintenance contracts not covered by the paycheck protection program loan he received in April.
Berkey said he has been in business for nearly 17 years and has 15 people on staff. He said he went from more than 200 visits per week to four once the governor issued the stay-at-home order.
“That would be a 98% drop in business,” Berkey said.
While business has slowly increased since, Berkey said, he still had to furlough about two thirds of his staff. He said patients, particulary those who are more at-risk making up about a third of his clientele, also have been scared to come back.
“There’s a ton of fear and anxiety … and they don’t even want to go to the doctor anymore,” Berkey said.
Berkey said he's not sure how the state will determine grant approvals going forward, whether it's a first come, first serve basis. However, he said, he's grateful for the city in enabling that next step with the state regardless.
"I'm cautiously excited about it," Berkey said.
The 18 businesses applying for the grants through the United City of Yorkville and the State of Illinois account for a total of $436,644 in requested funds, according to city documents.
Those businesses also include Tiki Tan, 728 E. Veterans Parkway Suite 104; BH Martial Arts, 664 W. Veterans Parkway; Virtues In Motion Dance Studio, 104 Beaver St.; Brenart Eye Clinic, LLC, 120 E. Countryside Parkway; Salsa Verde Mexican Restaurant & Taqueria, 634 Veterans Parkway, Unit F; Duy’s Incorporated, 135 E. Veterans Parkway; Haven Medical Spa, 120 E. Countryside Parkway; The Heartland School, LLC, 708 E. Veteran's Parkway; Idea Marketing Group, Inc., 51 Fox Glen Drive W; Mike & Denise’s Pigeon Hill Diner, Inc., 728 E. Veteran's Parkway; Crossfit Exemplify North, 634 Veterans Parkway, Unit F; Sterchi Chiropractic, S.C., 54 W. Countryside Parkway; The Law Office Corporation, 759 John St.; Exemplify Health Center, 728 E. Veterans Parkway; Upper Crust Catering, Inc., 109 E. Hydraulic St.; and Foxy’s Ice Cream, 131 Hydraulic St.
The Kendall County Board also approved two similar grants for businesses in unincorporated areas and discussed possible backstop funding options to help municipalities in the event that a business never re-opens or otherwise fails to meet program criteria.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel had said during the county's April 30 remote finance committee meeting that the United City of Yorkville allotted $500,000 for their own program.
Hurtado said she's also grateful for the city's time and consideration, along with passing the motion so her application can be considered by the state.
“I look forward to finding out what the state decides and to see if I can get additional support to keep my business going after all of this is over,” Hurtado said.
• This story was updated to include additional information from the remote Yorkville City Council meeting on Tuesday, along with additional comment from local small businesses submitting applications for the downstate small business grant program.