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Local News

Kendall County Board OKs small business grant backstop funding proposal

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YORKVILLE – Municipalities within Kendall County are going to be better equipped to essentially co-sign for downstate small business grants meant to provide local businesses financial relief in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kendall County Board voted, 10-0, to approve a proposal to provide backstop funding for those downstate small business grants during their remote Tuesday, May 19 meeting.

The proposal includes the county taking $1.5 million from the county's about $1.9 million revolving loan fund and using the $1.5 million to help back municipalities if businesses default on the grants by not adhering to the state program guidelines.

Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel said the county would set aside $400,000 for Oswego, $400,000 for Yorkville and $200,000 for Plano for the county to backstop loans for municipalities for the business grants. The plan also includes setting aside $100,000 for Montgomery, $200,000 for unincorporated parts of Kendall County and $200,000 for smaller municipalities within the county.

Koeppel said the money would be transferred to municipalities and each allocation to each municipality is accompanied with promissory notes that outline responsibilities of each party involved.

“They can use the money only very specifically for funding this downstate program if there is an issue and the state would require repayment of the money,” Koeppel said.

The County Board also approved on Tuesday a $25,000 downstate small business grant to Faith in Designs, a remodeling and construction company that is based in unincorporated Kendall County.

County Board member Amy Cesich said she feels good about the approved agreements after compromises were made on both sides.

"I think this is something that is going to be good for our community," Cesich said.

The update comes after after Kendall County Board members voted on May 5 to approve two $25,000 grants for two businesses in unincorporated parts of the county through the state of Illinois' Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program, along with the means to create backup funds if the businesses default on the grants. The County Board also voted to approve borrowing $200,000 from the county's revolving loan fund to secure emergency working capital grant funding through the state program for local businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Koeppel had said during a Thursday Committee of the Whole meeting those applications went through the county directly, since they were in unincorporated Kendall County. Businesses in municipalities who want to apply for the grants through the state's small business stabilization program would have to do so through their own municipalities.

“And there has been a lot of interest within the municipalities,” Koeppel had said.

The grants are meant to provide 60 days worth of working capital for those small businesses suffering because of closures or social distancing parameters related to the pandemic. Funds for the state program will not need to be repaid, provided the businesses remain open for at least 60 days, or reopen and retain or re-employ permanent jobs within the next year.

However, Koeppel had said, municipalities didn't have the funding to provide back up funding for those small business grants to the state, should businesses default on the grant.

"We don't anticipate this happening very often, but it was something that was going to prohibit all of the municipalities from participating," Koeppel had said.

Other criteria businesses would need to adhere to for grant eligibility include having fewer than 50 employees, having been in business since January 2017 and being able to reopen after the award of the grant and lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Though the grant applications are subject to local government public hearings, grant awards are ultimately determined by the state. Koeppel said the state grant funds are available on a first come, first serve basis.

County Board member Audra Hendrix, who is also chairwoman of the county's economic development committee, had said she has talked to a lot of business owners who are relieved to hear the proposal making its way through county government. She had said she was very pleased with the swift action from all parties involved to try to get the program rolling as quickly as possible to help county residents.

Even though the allocated money proposed to serve at grant backstop funds was granted to the county by the federal government, Hendrix said, the bottom line is that money came from taxpayers.

"This is the moment to send that back to them," Hendrix said.

• This story has been updated to include additional information following the Tuesday remote Kendall County Board meeting.

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