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Local News

Yorkville city officials green light 8 more grants for small businesses affected by pandemic

Yorkville City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road, Yorkville
Yorkville City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road, Yorkville

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YORKVILLE – Eight more Yorkville businesses facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic also will be considered for state financial relief grants following action taken by Yorkville officials.

The Yorkville City Council voted, 8-0, to approve downstate small business grant applications to eight small Yorkville businesses facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic during their remote Tuesday, May 26 meeting. All city aldermen were present for the remote meeting.

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said the financial relief requested from the eight businesses accounts for a total of $200,000. He had said applications will be processed through the city – meaning the application will be subject to a public hearing with the city – but the state has the final say in which businesses ultimately get the financial relief.

Purcell said he's unsure what the state will do concerning the requests that have been approved by the city so far, nor is he sure of the timeframe of the state's process with the program.

"But we've got your back, 100%," Purcell said.

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.

Nonessential 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.

Gerardo Alcantara, owner of Fast Burrito, 1214 N. Bridge St., attended the virtual meeting where his application for $25,000 in grant funds was approved by the city. He said his business, which has been in operation since 2005 and includes four employees other than himself, has been honoring take-out food orders since dine-in businesses were closed to the public per Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order.

With demand for meat increasing, Alcantara said, his business has to pay double what they ordinarily would for the product and he is now looking at 80% to 90% in lost revenue. He said he has had to lay off two employees – both kitchen help workers – due to the loss of business.

Alcantara said the hope is to re-hire those two employees this coming weekend, especially with bars and restaurants in the state possibly being able to re-open for outdoor dining service on Friday.

“I don’t know if they’re still able to," Alcantara said. "[It’s been] eight weeks ago now.”

For Alcantara's sake and others, he said, he wants everything to go back to normal as soon as possible.

"It's hard to work," Alcantara said. "It's hard to see people suffer."

Businesses who got city approval to pursue the state funding during the Tuesday meeting also included Crusade Burger Bar, 209 S. Bridge St.; Foot and Ankle Centers, 654 W. Veterans Parkway, Suite D; Ginger and Soul, 131 E. Hydraulic St.; Butcher Block 360, 227 Heustis St.; NCG Yorkville Cinema, 1505 N. Bridge St.; Sunfield Restaurant, 382 E. Veterans Parkway; and Taekwondo Korea Center, 482 E. Veterans Parkway.

The update comes after the Yorkville City Council voted unanimously to approve grant applications to 18 small Yorkville businesses facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic during their May 12 remote meeting. The previous 18 businesses that were approved for the grants through the city and the state of Illinois accounted for $436,644 in requested funds, according to city documents.

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 its own program. The County Board also previously approved $400,000 for Yorkville as backstop funding, since the city has to essentially act as a co-signer for the grants if a business fails to meet state criteria for the program.

County officials also have said the state funding is available to businesses in need on a first come, first serve basis.

Purcell said that, if every single application the city approved gets approved by the state and every single one of those businesses doesn’t re-open in 60 days, the city could be on hook for more than $600,000.

“We don’t expect that, but I just want to lay that out that there as a very, very minimal possibility that that could happen,“ Purcell said.

Ward 3 Alderman Joel Frieders said he's happy to support city businesses in their applications, as long as they meet the requirements for the state program. He said he's been pretty inspired by how Yorkville businesses have managed to pivot and sometimes reinvent themselves in this time of crisis, like incorporating delivery and curb-side pick-up services that may not have been there previously.

“Just to the greater Yorkville business community, you’re kicking rear end,” Frieders said.

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