• website-banner-COVID.jpg
  • Links:


    Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package - CLICK HERE for a great summary of what this is all about.

    (Thank you to Julie Thompson from Back Office Service Solutions for providing the following distilled summary for us!)

    For Individuals - Stimulus Checks of $1,200 per person.  Married couples will receive $2,400. Additionally $500 per child will be sent.   These checks will be mailed out if your income was $75K or less in 2018 and phase out between $75K and $99K. Unemployment benefits are being extended by 13 weeks and will include 4 months of enhanced benefits.  Unemployment may also be claimed by independent contractors, freelancers and gig workers.

    For Small Businesses - For those businesses that did not lay off workers – or pledge not to lay off workers – The bill provides for federally guaranteed loans available at community banks.  The loans are available during the emergency period and end on June 30th.  For those businesses that did not lay off employees** and continued to pay employees the loans would be forgiven.

    ** Addendum to the above from John Lynch at the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) on March 26 -  "The stimulus bill is still not signed, but the latest I'm reading is that it will include a forgivable loan program to cover payroll costs for 2.5 months.  The loan would be forgiven as long as the employer continues to employ its workers or rehires them when they reopen for business."

    For All Businesses and Distressed Businesses - The Federal Reserve has $425 Billion of funds to loan – additional funds would be made available for industry specific companies hit hardest. Bill also includes $100 Billion in funds earmarked for hospitals and health systems.


    Illinois State Treasurer's Office - Small Business Covdi-19 Small Business Relief Program - IL State Treasurer's Office is launching a partnership with Illinois financial institutions to assist small businesses and non-profits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CLICK HERE for more information. See March 24 update below for further information.

    Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Assistance - The SBA has issued a great document that summarizes how to apply in three clear steps - CLICK HERE to go right to the PDF. See March 24 update below for further information.


    Hospitality Emergency Grants Program - Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have announced a grant to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. CLICK HERE to apply NOW. Deadline is April 1, 2020.

    Bartender Emergency AssistanceEligibility requirements include being a bartender, or the spouse or child of a bartender, and experiencing a lack of the necessities of life, including financial, physical, mental, or emotional well being as a result of emergency hardship. CLICK HERE for more information.

    Single use retail bag fee suspended in Oak Park - Effective March 31, 2020 - The suspension is consistent with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in grocery stores. CLICK HERE to see the order.


    Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act - allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. In fact, if small businesses maintain or later restore their payrolls, they may not have to repay some — or possibly any — of the loan. Here’s a guide and checklist from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help your small business through the process. 

    IDES Taking Steps to Address Unprecedented Volume of Unemployment Claims - CLICK HERE for a great summary.

    Advice for April 1 Rent in the Wake of COVID-19 - CLICK HERE for some great advise on how to chat with your landlord.

    Grace Period extended to OP business licenses - The Village of Oak Park’s annual business license renewal process was previously started with a deadline of March 31st.   The Village are providing notice of a 90 day grace period through July 1st for those businesses who have not yet paid their annual renewal fees.   They are however continuing to process liquor license fees and have not extended a grace period for that category.

    Guidelines issued for stores that sell groceries and medicine - Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley today issued guidelines for stores that sell groceries and medicine to help ensure customers and employees are protected - CLICK HERE for more information.

    Seven Coronavirus scams targeting your business - Business Email Compromise (BEC) cases have increased since this pandemic began.  Fraudsters will take advantage of any disruption and this disruption is of a historical level.  With more clients having to work from home, communication channels are altered. Fraudsters will both step up their efforts and be more successful at altering payments. CLICK HERE for a great article about how to protect yourself.


    Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package - CLICK HERE for a great summary of what this is all about. Please see the section at the top of this page for more details of the package.

    Hospitality Emergency Grants Program - Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have announced a grant to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. CLICK HERE to apply NOW. For a little more detailed information, see Restaurant&Retail sector update on this page.

    Illinois delays tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 - CLICK HERE for article.

    Guidelines issued by Oak Park for stores that sell groceries and medicine - CLICK HERE.


    Childcare for Essential Workers - How to find emergency care - not only for parents seeking care, but for providers wishing to reopen as part of that network of care. CLICK HERE.

    - Online search for essential workers seeking child care during the COVID-19 crisis - CLICK HERE or call the hotline at 888-228-1146.

    - Not sure if you are an essential worker - CLICK HERE.

    - Already providing care for essential workers - CLICK HERE to get listed in this database.

    - Want to apply to be a Provider - CLICK HERE and scroll half way down the page.

    Navigating the Financial Impact on Non-Profits - Watch a presentation from Forefront on how nonprofits can navigate the loss of income due to COVID-19 - CLICK HERE.

    IRS tax payments deferred to July 15, 2020 - CLICK HERE for information.


    Social Services Resource Guide - In collaboration with the Village of Oak Park, the Community Mental Health Board and Oak Park and River Forest Townships have taken the lead to provide community resources due to the recent escalation of outbreaks of the COVID- 19 virus.CLICK HERE to see the document. This links to a live document that is being updated daily.

    SBA On-line Training for Small Businesses Impacted By Coronavirus - The Illinois District Office will host free webinars as long as there is demand covering topics like eligibility, terms, filing requirements Tuesday, March 24,  11 a.m. CTTuesday, March 24,  3 p.m. CTWednesday, March 25, 11 a.m. CT,  Thursday, March 26, 11 a.m. CTThursday, March 26, 3 p.m. CT.

    Illinois State Treasurer's Office - Small Business Covdi-19 Small Business Relief Program - IL State Treasurer's Office is launching in partnership with Illinois financial institutions to assist small businesses and non-profits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CLICK HERE for more information. At this time it seems that they are accepting applications from financial institutions who would be interested in administering loans. 

    - The information does state the following: "Eligible Illinois businesses or non-profits must (1) have been shut down or limited due to COVID-19; (2) have less than $1 million in liquid assets or $8 million average annual receipts (per SBA standards); and (3) be headquartered in the State of Illinois or agree to use the funds in Illinois."

    Covid-19 Restaurant Support - Great tips and resources! CLICK HERE


    Illinois Department of Commerce FAQ's - The Villages of River Forest and Oak Park are now deferring to the State order with regard to essential businesses.  If a business has a question about whether or not they are essential please CLICK HERE to see the FAQ's.

    If you are a River Forest business and you have further questions, please reach out to Jon Pape, Assistant to the Village Administrator at jpape@vrf.us

    If you are an Oak Park business and you have further questions, please reach out to Tammie Grossman, Director of Development Customer Service at tgrossman@oak-park.us


    Five Ways to Calm Fears Among Your Employees - This is a great summary from the US Chamber with some valuable tips - CLICK HERE


    OPEDC launches centralized website that lists restaurants & retailers who are open for business  This is an open-source list of restaurants and retailers in Oak Park that are open and how to order from them - CLICK HERE to go directly to the list and to submit your business information.

    Oak Park Village Manager Status Report Update - MARCH 20, 2020 - CLICK HERE

    River Forest President E-news Update - MARCH 20, 2020 - CLICK HERE

    Village of Oak Park Emergency Notification System - If you would like to sign up for emails/texts/voice messaging from the emergency notification system for Oak park, CLICK HERE. The community notification system is independent of the Village’s website and social media platforms and will only be used for emergency purposes


    The Village of Oak Park will defer to the state now that the Governor has issued a stay-at-home order - CLICK HERE to see update from the Village of Oak Park. CLICK HERE to see more targeted FAQ's.

    Illinois State FAQ's for Businesses under new state order - CLICK HERE for some great information.

    Illinois State FAQ's for Unemployment and eligibility - CLICK HERE for info.

    The Better Lake Street field office at 971 Lake Street is closed to the public until further notice due to COVID-19 - You can still contact them at 708-628-8075 or betterlakestreet.com/contact. or by going to betterlakestreet.com and sign up for their weekly newsletter.


    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker today issued a “stay at home” order for the entire state starting Saturday (March 21) at 5 p.m. through April 7 - CLICK HERE to see more information.

    Treasury Department extends tax filing day from April 15 to July 15 - CLICK HERE for Forbes summary. CLICK HERE to go directly to the IRS web site.

    Cook County launches a text message alert system and phone hotline in response to Coronavirus crisis. CLICK HERE for more information.

    Cook County now eligible for Disaster Relief Loans - thanks OPEDC for keeping us up to date on all of this info! CLICK HERE for their summary.

    The Cook County Assessor's Office announced today the temporary suspension of assessment notice mailings and appeal deadlines. CLICK HERE for details.

    Oak Park Shelter-in-Place order in effect through April 3 - CLICK HERE for further clarifications from the Village of Oak Park on what this means for residents and businesses. 

    Sales tax relief for bars and restaurants Gov. Pritzker has directed the Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for eating and drinking establishments that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year. CLICK HERE for more information.


    On March 18, the Village of Oak Park issued a Shelter In Place Order. CLICK HERE to see the order. Clarifications from the Village about the Order can be found HERE.

    If you have any questions about the Order, and if it applies to you or how your business will be impacted, please do not hesitate to contact Tammie Grossman directly at tgrossman@oak-park.us. She and her team are monitoring emails diligently and she will respond at her earliest convenience. Please put "Question re: Shelter in Place Order" in the subject line. 


    Illinois Disaster Loan Assistance approved - The fine folks at the OPEDC have notified us that it looks like Cook Co has been approved for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.  We will keep an eye out for further announcements from the state. Here is the link that was sent through - https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations


    Governor Pritzker's news conference yesterday afternoon encouraged all business owners to go to coronavirus.illinois.gov for up-to-date information. Good summary of Economic Assistance for Businesses HERE, although it all seems to be "in progress."


    Governor Pritzker's news conference in the afternoon encouraged all business owners to go to coronavirus.illinois.gov for up to date information. Good summary of Economic Assistance for Businesses HERE, although it all seems to be "in progress"

    Apply for Unemployment Insurance if you are without access to paid sick leave or unable to work because of Covid19 - Call IDES at 1-800-224-5631 or visit www2.illinois.gov/ides 

    Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Covid19 Hotline - Get your questions answered 24/7 - 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV

    Report Covid19 Price Gouging - The Office of the Illinois Attorney General is taking action against reports of price gouging - CLICK HERE to report any cases.


    MARCH 16, 2020

    The Chamber has been working closely with the OPEDC to fully understand resources available for our businesses. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) has received authorization to provide small business assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.  Unfortunately, Illinois has not yet received a declaration of need, and therefore the EIDL program is not yet available to Illinois businesses and nonprofits.

    The State of Illinois is requesting help in identifying businesses that are experiencing substantial economic injury. By encouraging businesses to self-identify as economically affected, we can help ensure that Cook County and Oak Park will be included in the disaster declaration. CLICK HERE to tell them how this crisis has impacted your business.


    There are important resources that have been gathered together from both Villages and we encourage all businesses to check back to these pages regularly for updates:
    Specifically, please reference the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employees which has been issued for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The Illinois Department of Public Health has set-up a 24 hour COVID-19 hotline, for more information contact 1-800-889-3931, email dph.sick@illinois.gov.

    The Village of Oak Park also has an alert system to notify residents or businesses when emergency situations occur. To sign up, just go to www.oak-park.us/notifyme, click on the green Sign Up for Alerts button and follow the instructions. Anyone who would like to sign up, but lacks access to a computer can call 708.358.5489 to be added to the voice message alert list. The Village distributes messages only when deemed important, such as alerts about severe weather, snow emergency parking and mosquito spraying. For more information, email prepare@oak-park.us.


    - The US Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide small businesses impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) up to $2 Million in disaster assistance loans - CLICK HERE to read more.

    - Our partners at the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) have some fabulous tips when working with your bank or lender in these hard times. The bottom line: go speak to someone as soon as possible to look at how to be strategic with your options. CLICK HERE to see the blog.


    - This is a great summary article about possible federal assistance for businesses regarding paid sick leave and payroll tax cuts in light of the impact from the Coronavirus - CLICK HERE. HR6201 Family First Coronavirus Response Act is the Act relating specifically to paid sick leave. It's confusing and we are still trying to get a good handle on what this info means and how to get access to it. Fingers crossed, some of this aid will come through!


    To fall in line with everything that is happening, we have had to close the Chamber office on OP Ave starting Monday March 16, 2020. We are still infinitely contactable via email, text and phone. Our main office number (708-613-7550) has been experiencing high call volumes so if you call you may need to leave a voice mail. If there is a time-sensitive matter, please contact us at businessmgr@oprfchamber.org. This email will be monitored closely by our Office Managers through the day.


    The Chamber Board president Dr. Mary Ann Bender and Liz Holt (Chamber Executive Director) met with Village of Oak Park Trustees Deno Andrews and Simone Boutet on Monday March 16, 2020 to discuss the impact of recent events on local businesses. The Trustees wanted to fully understand the impact on all business sectors. They are communicating directly with the Mayor with information from the Chamber.
    The Chamber Executive Committee is communicating regularly about how to manage the changing landscape of doing business in OP and RF. The Executive Committee is on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to draft a plan for communicating regularly with members and for collecting and distributing information to our members.
    The Chamber Board of Directors is preparing industry sector summaries to inform our members of resources (local and state) pertaining to specific areas of business. We anticipate having this information on-line by the end of this week.


    In light of recent developments regarding the COVID-19 virus, we have had to make the following changes to our regular programming effective March 13, 2020:

    Business After Hours (BAH) - The April BAH has been canceled, and the OP Arms and Generation Law have agreed to host a BAH in November of this year. At this time we have not formally canceled the May BAH, but we will be monitoring recommendations from local authorities.
    Affinity Group Gatherings - Effective March 13, 2020, we will cancel all affinity group meetings for the remainder of March and all of April. Look to hear from Mark Walden as we look to May and getting our schedule back on track!

    - Open Office Hours - The fantabulous Mark Walden however, has agreed to carry out our Open Office Hours via Face Time or any other socially distant media of your choice. Please email Mark directly (mwalden@oprfchamber.org)  to set up a time that works for you (and him!).


    The Chamber's Executive Committee and staff, in consultation with the Health&Wellness Fair organizing committee, have made the difficult decision to postpone the Health&Wellness Fairoriginally scheduled for April 26, 2020.
    We have been working closely with our fantastic venue partners, FFC Oak Park, to set a new date for the event which will be Sunday, September 13, 2020.
    We have also decided to postpone the Boost Your Business networking event that was originally scheduled for March 31, 2020. We are working closely with Riveredge Hospital to set a new date for this event.


    Marketing Your Business - Now is the perfect time to revisit all of the amazing benefits that your Chamber membership offers you, in particular for marketing yourself and your business! CLICK HERE for a great summary of all the things you could be doing NOW!

    E-blasts - These marketing gems are the perfect way to tell the world that you are still open for business! CLICK HERE to see how to put one together.

    Member Profile Page - Having your business information linked onto our Chamber web site gives you a HUGE boost in the world of Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so take some self-isolation time and get your profile looking it's best. Need some help with this? CLICK HERE to see some tips on how to get started. 


    Crain's Chicago Business has, as a public service, made the important decision to lift the paywall on their daily digital coverage of COVID-19, and will continue to allow free access for the foreseeable future. You can CLICK HERE to sign up for the newsletter.



    Oak Park and River Forest are communities who pride themselves on taking care of others, and now is the time that we all need to extend this sentiment to our local business community. Many of our local business have felt the pain of a downturn in sales or slowing of clients through the door. Now more than ever we need to be mindful of Staying Local for all of your shopping and service needs and continuing to show our LOVE to all of our local businesses.
    Many businesses are now offering concierge curb-side pick-up, extended shopping hours on request, home delivery and staggered appointment times to limit the number of people in shared waiting rooms. They are being creative, innovative and flexible to help our community continue with their regular routines as much as possible. Please show them the LOVE right back by:
    - prioritizing Staying Local for all your shopping and service needs. 
    - working directly with your local providers to find a way to work with your new challenges and keep to your regular routines. 
    - getting everyone you know (school-aged kids who are suddenly at home!) to do some Community Service hours and get on-line and show our small businesses some social media LOVE