The Economic Development Downstate Small Business Stabilization program provides grants up to $25,000 to businesses with 50 or less employees, a number that can include the business owner or owners but also requires at least one full-time employee in addition to an owner. Applicants must demonstrate an “urgent need” caused by the COVID-19 emergency efforts.

All businesses facing losses related to the economic shutdown should apply, but there is no guarantee money will be provided. This program is different than the payroll assistance program that needs to be replenished as running out of money. Congress was working on adding more funding this week.

If businesses misuse the grant money or lie on applications with the Economic Development Downstate Small Business Stabilization program, then they default on the agreement. Many Jasper County businesses need some assistance due to the stay-at-home order and mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses or plummeting sales for many smaller businesses still allowed to continue doing business.

Business owners apply should realize there will be plenty of paperwork to navigate to gain the money. The application will check on past bankruptcy or financial insolvency history of applicants, lawsuits involving the business and its officers or principal owners, as well as the current bank statement for the business. There will be a check on net income for the last three fiscal years and whether the business has a history of utility shutoff notices, delinquency on billing or denial of loan applications. All applicants must also provide a Certificate of Good Standing from the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The intent of the grant program is to help businesses remain in operation and retain jobs. It is not designed to expand or enhance businesses. The grants will not be awarded to any business entity earning more than 33 percent of its gross revenue from gaming.

Sharing these facts will help businesses have a better chance at getting some grant money, but applications will be submitted from across much of the state and the fund now has $250 million. There is no guarantee that all applicants will receive grant money.

For more information, check with your banker, state legislator or the governor’s website. Another source of information is the county website at where application materials will be posted because the Effingham County Board agreed last week to assist Effingham County businesses with the application process.