City of Highland Park Launches New Business Assistance Grant Program
$255,000 allocated to provide matching grants for COVID-19 related operational expenses for retailers and restaurants
October 27, 2020 – The City of Highland Park (City) has announced a new matching grant program to assist small businesses in weathering the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in light of challenges posed by winter weather and a resurgence of COVID-19. The Financial Assistance for Retailers and Restaurants (FARR) Grant Program designates $255,000 in funding to support COVID-19-related operational costs incurred by restaurants and retail establishments to provide for a safe environment for customers and staff in compliance with state and federal public health guidelines. Qualifying small businesses may apply for reimbursement of up to 50% of eligible expenses related to COVID-19 public health mitigations, to a maximum of $10,000 for restaurants and $5,000 for retailers, for costs incurred between August 15, 2020 and December 31, 2021 or until funds are depleted. Applications for the program are now available at cityhpil.com.
Requirements for the FARR grant program mirror those of the City’s existing Small Business Façade Improvement Grant Program (SBFIG) while increasing the amount of matching funds available per grant. The SBFIG is limited to funding for exterior improvements, such as façade restoration or signage, and are set at a maximum of $5,000 per project. As with the SBFIG, FARR grants will be open to small businesses located and operating within a commercial building in Highland Park with a net worth of less than $2 million and generating less than an average of $200,000 in profit per year for two years after taxes.
“The City Council and staff deeply understand that our businesses are in survival mode. After months of working together, offering reduced fees, easing restrictions, and coordinating other assistance, the City Council was compelled to create the FARR Grant Program,” stated Mayor Nancy Rotering. “We carefully reviewed our budget and made adjustments to help our valued restaurants and retailers. They are the heart of our community and need all of the help they can get. This limited-time grant program enables the City to help qualifying businesses make the operational changes necessary to continue to provide service, offer employment, and generate revenue during the pandemic.”
The program will be funded through a reallocation of $227,500 from the City’s Sustainability Fund and $27,500 from planned expenditures within the General Fund budget. The reallocation of funds from the Sustainability Fund to the FARR grant program will not impact the schedule of proposed sustainable infrastructure capital improvements planned for FY 2022-2026 or purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles. The City will reduce the Sustainability Fund’s contribution to these sustainability projects and offset the reduction through increased contributions from other City funds.
City Council and staff have prioritized support for businesses throughout the course of the pandemic, working closely with business owners to provide timely assistance. These initiatives include advocating with state and federal agencies, temporarily suspending interest and late fees associated with certain business taxes, and launching no-fee outdoor use permit applications to allow businesses to provide outdoor dining, merchandising, and fitness classes. More information about these and other efforts to support small businesses is available at cityhpil.com.
Applications for the FARR Grant program are available at cityhpil.com. Applications will be administratively reviewed with final approval by the City Manager. Questions regarding the program may be directed to the Office of Business Development at 847.926.1027. To learn more about the City’s response to COVID-19, visit cityhpil.com/covid-19.