Business Resources

COVID-19 Business Resources

The Partnership is here to help provide the most up-to-date information on health and safety guidance, financial resources and programs available to keep your business strong during uncertain times.

Today’s Updates

Phase 4 Mitigations: Effective January 25, 2021

A Phase 4 Guidelines Overview can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

• Indoor dining and drinking now permitted for parties of up to 10 people
• Seated areas should be arranged so that tables allow for 6 feet between parties; impermeable barriers may be installed between booths which are less than 6 feet apart

• Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy

• Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy

• Reopening select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks); indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks should remain closed
• Indoor recreation to operate at lesser of 50 customers or 50% of facility capacity

• Capacity limit of no more than 25% occupancy
• Guided tours should be limited to 50 or fewer people per group

• Limit to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of room capacity
• Multiple groups may meet in the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms

IDPH will continue to closely monitor test positivity, ICU bed availability, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. Should data show regions trending in the wrong direction, based on the established mitigation metrics, regions could once again find themselves in a higher tier with increased measures.

For reopening guidance for your business or industry, check out our Recovery & Reopening page.



NFIB tip sheets and guides for small business owners:

LISC Rural Relief Small Business Grants

Apply NOW for the next round of LISC Rural Relief Small Business Grants. As part of our continuing commitment to elevate our impact in rural America, OneLISC is inviting small business owners in rural locations across the country to apply for the LISC-Lowe’s Rural Relief Small Business Grants program. Deadlines:  January 5, 2021; and January 26 – February 2, 2021. To find out more about who is eligible, to sign up for updates, and to apply, please visit the LISC website.

Illinois Department of Labor Launches Back to Business Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) today announced the launch of Back to Business Illinois, a free, voluntary service to connect small businesses of 250 employees or fewer with consultants who will help them evaluate and address workplace safety and health issues related to COVID-19. The consultants will create a plan for small businesses that promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for workers and customers.

Back to Business Illinois health and safety consultants in IDOL’s Workplace Safety and Health Consultation Division will help local small businesses audit their physical operation, identify best practices and find ways to implement them efficiently.

“While this pandemic has affected Illinois’ small businesses in unexpected ways, IDOL remains committed to promoting health and safety during every step of recovery. We are excited to offer this new program in support of our small business owners’ efforts to keep workers and customers safe as these businesses continue to operate,” said IDOL Director Michael Kleinik.

Since every industry presents unique work environment challenges, each consultant will be paired with applicants based on their expertise and specific needs to customize the best plan for their business.

The Illinois Department of Labor will also be offering a free, voluntary “Back to Business” certification designed to show workers and customers that the small business has participated in the program.

Businesses can voluntarily complete a series of online modules and then institute the necessary practices to promote a safe work environment. The online guidance and education program will emphasize areas including basic infection prevention, physical space modification, infectious disease planning, employee monitoring and workplace flexibility.

This is a non-punitive program, and no fines or citations are associated with it. It is designed entirely as a benefit to empower Illinois small businesses to continue operating safely.

For more information on the Back to Business Illinois program, visit the official website at: illinois.gov/worksafe

Partnership Panel – COVID-19 Webinar Series


January 14, 2021
Topic:  – PPP 2.0 – Jenny Blocker, CPA & Partner, Benning Group, LLC
Meeting Recording Here
Webinar Slides

July 15, 2020
Topic:  – New Laws for Business & Sexual Harassment Requirements – Sen. Brian Stewart and Beth Maskell
Meeting Recording Here
Webinar Slides
Sexual Harassment Training by Furst Staffing, click here

Sexual Harassment Training by Hughes Resources contact Carolyn Mitchell, Director of Sales and Marketing, for additional details.  carolyn@hughesresources.com or call 815-232-2000

June 19, 2020
Topic:  – Freeport Clean Hands, Open Doors with Nicole Haas, Greater Freeport Partnership
Meeting Recording Here
Password: 4J*%k14i 

June 12, 2020
Topic:  – Growing in Tough Times: Thinking like a Startup, Richard Lamm, Lucas Group CPAs
Meeting Recording Here
Password: 4S%4946u 

June 4, 2020
Topic:  – PPP Part 2 :Loan Forgiveness Application, Jenny Blocker, Benning Group
Meeting Recording Here
Password: 5g+G6!75

May 20, 2020
Topic:  – Reopening & Recovery, SBDC
Meeting Recording here
Password: 4Y@4R*am 

May 7, 2020
Topic:  – Business Survival Coaching: Using Downtime as Growtime
Meeting Recording Here
Password: ab010834!

May 1, 2020
Topic: Unemployment Benefits
Meeting Recording Here
Password: 4V%5^04$

SBA Disaster Loan Information

Webinars from SBA


FEDERAL ASSISTANCE offered via the following programs:

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

All Illinois small businesses can again apply for the EIDL.  The SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.   While the EIDL Advance is no longer available, businesses can still apply for the EIDL loan.


  • These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. The first payment is deferred for one year.
  • EIDL applications that have already been submitted continue to be processed.
  • FAQ for Economic Injury Disaster Loan


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Program Update

  • JUNE 19, 2020 – Procedural Notice for Lenders – The purpose of this Notice is to provide guidance for when Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan proceeds must be used to refinance U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and to inform PPP Lenders of the procedure for remitting to the SBA any PPP loan proceeds designated for the refinance of an EIDL.
  • Partnership Webinar: PPP Part 2 :Loan Forgiveness Application, Jenny Blocker, Benning Group – June 4, 2020

Meeting Recording Here

Password: 5g+G6!75


Small Business Debt Relief Program 

Will provide immediate debt relief for existing SBA Borrowers: SBA will cover all loan payments for existing SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months; this relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out an SBA loan within six months after the president signs the bill.


SBA Express Bridge Loans 

Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

  • Terms up to $25,000
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan

Other Financial Resources

USDA Rural Development Opportunities for Immediate Relief


Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund

The Office of Minority of Economic Empowerment was recently informed of the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund which is in partnership between Verizon and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). They are offering grants up to $10,000 to support small businesses. For full information regarding the grant, click here. 


U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Response

USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  These programs can support efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through:

  • Technical, training, and management assistance;
  • Financial assistance; and
  • State and local assistance


Kiva Loan Assistance

In partnership with Verizon, the digital fundraising and advocacy platform Hello Alice is offering emergency grants of up to $10,000 for companies impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


GoFundMe has partnered with Intuit QuickBooks, Yelp, GoDaddy, and Bill.com to give small businesses a $500 grant if they raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.


Beauty Changes lives is offering $1,000 grants for licensed beauty professionals who are out of work due to the coronavirus.


Spanx and The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation, administered by Global Giving, are providing 1,000 grants of $5,000 to women-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 in monthly rounds. The application will open again From September 8-15.


Lurn: The company’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will help entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing emergency grants ranging from $50 to $500 to help with necessities such as groceries, medicine, transportation, etc.  To date, it has raised over $50,000 and dispersed roughly $32,000 in emergency relief grants to individuals.


Mailchimp$10 million worth of service will be offered for existing customers who want to continue using Mailchimp’s platform but need some financial support during this period. As an additional response to the crisis, Mailchimp will invest up to $100M to help drive new and ongoing business for our small-business customers through price discounts, product upgrades, add-ons and more.


Wefunder: The company’s Coronavirus Crisis Loans program enabling small businesses to crowdfund loans of $20,000 to $1 million from supporters.


Zapier: The $1 million assistance program is meant for their most impacted small-business customers. Zapier’s support team will set up qualified customers with a free month credit for a Starter plan.


Thanks to a $1 million grant from Sam’s Club, LISC will provide the emergency assistance that small businesses desperately need to stay afloat. They will deploy grants to help them bridge the financial gap, and deliver technical assistance to help them navigate the intricate web of public and private resources now available. LISC will focus these efforts on historically under-served communities—especially those enterprises owned or led by women, minorities and veterans, which often lack access to affordable capital. 


Office of IL State Treasurer: Charitable Trust Application Process

The Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund assists small non-profits with annual budgets of $1 million or less. Money comes from filing fees non-profits pay when incorporating in the state of Illinois, not personal or property tax dollars. Awardees are selected by an 11-member board, which oversees the management and guidelines of the fund. The 2020 cycle will focus grants to non-profits in three areas: Food Programs, Housing, and Workforce & Economic Development.

Unemployment & Paid Leave

Unemployment Benefits – Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)


For Employee: 

  • Unemployment Benefits for More Americans: makes sure self-employed and independent contractors, like Uber drivers and gig workers, can receive unemployment during the public health emergency
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
       PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not covered through other avenues in the unemployment insurance program, including self-employed sole proprietors and independent contractors. IDES is contracting with Deloitte to implement and maintain a web-based solution for PUA as quickly as possible. IDES will have this program fully implemented by the week of May 11.
    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
      PEUC Provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100 percent federally funded benefits to individuals who have exhausted their rights to regular state unemployment benefits of up to 26 weeks in Illinois. PEUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending December 26, 2020. PEUC will be retroactive once implemented. IDES received USDOL guidelines on April 10 and expects to have the program fully implemented the week of April 20.


Other Helpful Links: 


For Employer: 

IDES Resource for Employers.   


Paid Leave – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) 

FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses. 



IRS: Coronavirus Tax Relief:  The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. This page will be updated frequently as new information is available: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus


Manufacturing Resources

OSHA Guidelines

COVIID-19 Task Force Work Instructions

Facility Visitation Form


Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)

  • Resources & Information
  • If businesses have a facility and are capable of manufacturing PPE or are able to quickly make the switch to manufacture PPE, they should reach out to IMEC here.
  • If businesses are manufacturers of PPE looking for a supplier, they should reach out to the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center here.


Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA): List of Illinois businesses that are producing PPE

  • PPE DonationsIf businesses have personal protection equipment (PPE) that they would like to donate, they can send an email to the State of Illinois’ Covid-19 Donation Intake Team (ppe.donations@illinois.gov). Please note that all items should be in the manufacturer’s original packaging and unopened, as they cannot accept open products or homemade items.
  • For non-PPE related donations, businesses may reach out to businessdonations@illinois.gov.
  • If businesses have PPE that they are interested in selling to the state, they can send an email to the State of Illinois’ Covid-19 PPE Procurement Team (covid.procurement@illinois.gov).

Key Industries

icon box image


icon box image

Construction, Plumbing, Heating, & Service

icon box image

Private Label Food Manufacturing

Calendar Feed

Blog Feed

Pretzel Fest celebrates Freeport’s moniker as the Pretzel City April 19, 2021 The inaugural Pretzel Fest is scheduled for April 24 in Downtown Freeport to celebrate the history and comradery of the Pretzel City. Activities, food, shopping and fun for all ages between 10 am to 4 pm on Chicago Avenue. The Pretzel Fest BBQ Competition will kick off in the early hours of the morning with aromas to entice all residents […]
Stephenson County Restaurant Week April 14, 2021 The Greater Freeport Partnership is excited to announce the first annual Stephenson County Restaurant Week April 23-May 1. During this nine-day event, patrons are encouraged to seek out dining options from area restaurants that are offering featured dishes. Freeport and Stephenson County are home to more than 95 restaurants, cafés, bars, lounges, and delis, each with a unique flavor or […]