As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

The cities of McHenry and Woodstock, during an emergency meeting Wednesday, discussed implementing a small-business loan program that would help business-owners stay afloat during the shutdown, which Gov. JB Prtizker ordered March 16.

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett will issue an executive order to implement the program, put together by Director of Economic Development Doug Martin, immediately.

“This newly established microloan program is intended to provide quick financing to strengthen small business enterprises in the time of this need,” Jett said.

McHenry plans to loan $250,000, with $10,000 loans a business, while Woodstock plans to loan a total of $500,000, with $5,000 a business, according to city documents. The loan terms would include no payments or interest in the first year for both cities.

The McHenry Police Department, the only Illinois agency that filed cease-and-desist orders, shut down JoAnn’s Fabric, Michaels and GameStop Tuesday after they refused to close, claiming they were an essential service. After the police department battled against the corporations for hours, the retailers finally complied with the order, McHenry Chief of Police John Birk said.

“After hours and hours and hours of going through this, we could not support the [essential service] concept to the extent that we even sent some people in for some undercover buys to show that they're selling to anybody for no reason at all,” Birk said during the meeting.

McHenry’s and Woodstock’s business loan program won’t help large retailer chains.

“This is for the most-at-risk businesses that we have in the community, either low margins or those that have been completely shut down,” McHenry City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

The loans, Morefield said, are meant to be used for rent, maintenance costs or continued operation during the shutdown when there’s no revenue coming in for an extended period of time.

What McHenry does not intend this program to be is a longterm financial loan program lasting four years, Morefield added.

“This is meant to be a quick influx of cash to these businesses and return that money back to the city officers so that we can replenish that money that we're going to loan out,” Morefield said.

Loans in the revolving loan program will come directly from the city instead of the bank.

Details of the program will continue to be drafted and brought back to the McHenry City Council at its next meeting.

In response to the emergency state created by COVID-19, The city of Woodstock has created a plan to further help local businesses.

“We've been looking at programs that will help us provide cash assistance, knowing that cash flow is probably a major critical area of need for small local businesses.” City Manager Roscoe C. Stelford III said.

The city Wednesday afternoon unanimously approved a three-month delay for small businesses on principle payments owed to the city starting April 1. All interest on any revolving loan unpaid balances will be forgiven.

To prevent transmission of the diseases to retail employees, the City Attorney’s Office has developed an ordinance to temporarily suspend the Single-Use Bag Fee. The suspension began Wednesday and will end May 31.

In addition, Woodstock City Administration is proposing a waiver of late-payment penalties on all city fees, including water bills, bag fees, hotel/motel taxes and local motor fuel taxes for residents and businesses through April 16. This program will not require an application or request and will be automatic for all customers.

The city also is proposing a three-month temporary suspension of wireless alarm fees for businesses, which will benefit 267 local businesses, Roscoe said. In order to assist with cash flow, specifically on behalf of the city’s restaurants, taverns and bars suffering from the mandatory dining-room closures, city administration will refund and reduce a significant portion of liquor license fees, according to city documents.

The City of McHenry also has taken steps to respond to the financial impact of COVID-19 on residents. The city has waived all late payment penalties on water sewer payments and discontinuance of shutoff for nonpayments. These measures will continue until COVID-19 no longer threatens the public, Jett said Wednesday.

Coronavirus