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Show me the money!

Our industry has been particularly hard hit by this global pandemic. While restaurants are having to close for dine-in customers, food is still a necessity. Getting some take out is a justifiable expense for most people working from home or on the front lines. However clothing is considered a luxury, even though it's an industry that also touches everyone. People facing economic uncertainty are hesitant to shop.

So what is a Designer/Entrepreneur to do when facing an uncertain time of lowered orders? These next few months will definitely be full of learning curves. And depending on what you were working on when the world came to a standstill, you have a varying degree of concerns.

It may feel completely overwhelming but right now, more than ever, we have the time to apply for as many grants and loans as possible! (If you cringed at the loan word, don’t. All of these loans have an interest rate of under 4%, with 6 months of deferred payments. Some of them can also be forgiven entirely!)

Wondering where to even start? We've researched the different opportunities available to designer/entrepreneurs at the city, state, and federal levels. Here's a round up of what we found:

Freelancers/Sole proprietors

  • Freelancer’s Relief Fund - Financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs. Applications open on April 2, 2020.

  • CFDA A Common Thread - Funds for those in the American fashion community who have been impacted by COVID-19. Applications open on April 8, 2020.

  • Arts for Illinois Relief Fund - Financial relief to workers and organizations in the creative industries impacted by COVID-19. Applications open now, Because of the magnitude of this crisis, they anticipate more requests for funding than there are funds to distribute. Although there is no explicit deadline, it may be necessary to close the applications when the funds are expended.

Small Businesses with 2 - 500 employees

  • SBA Paycheck Protection Program - A loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

  • SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan - Small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

  • Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund - Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will pay nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term. Loan funds must be used for working capital, and at least 50% of loans proceeds must be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group healthcare benefits.

  • Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund - Emergency cash flow for small businesses and non-profits during this health crisis. Funds will be provided to eligible businesses as low-interest loans.

Most importantly, please know our staff is here to help you with the application process for these programs. Keep your eyes open for some new webinars in the coming week. In the meantime feel free to shoot us an email with specific questions.

In addition, you can contact your local Small Business Development Center to discuss your options.

Good luck and stay safe!

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