April 2020
Chamber Member Newsletter
Your source for upcoming West Town Chamber meetings, events, business district news and information on chamber programs geared to support your business.
Hello West Town Businesses,

I hope you are safe and healthy and are doing what you can to make it through this difficult time. All Member events until April 30th have been postponed due to recently extended Federal Social Distancing guidelines.

Also, the distribution of the 2020 Neighborhood Guides has been tentatively rescheduled to May.

If you participated in West Town Winterfest this year and received any Winterfest Gift Certificates in January and February of 2020, it's time to turn them in! Please drop off the certificates with their corresponding receipts in the Chamber's mailbox (1819 W Chicago Ave), or email the receipts with the certificates to Kace Wakem. All receipts and certificates are due by April 1st.

The West Town Chamber is here to support you. Please feel free to email us at info@westtownchamber.org if you have any questions. Thank you! ♡


Sara Bemer
Membership Director
West Town Chamber of Commerce
Membership News
Welcome New Members
Chamber Members Only Facebook Group
Join our Chamber Members Only Facebook Group !

Our goal is that this will be an effective forum for communication amongst you--the Members of the West Town Chamber.

We know you are busy! Please use this place to communicate with each other - share your events, specials, and reach out to other members! We will also be posting up to date info in the group and reminding you of events coming up.
Business Resources - COVID19
SBA Assistance Loans for Illinois Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result COVID-19 through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

The EIDL program is now open to Illinois small businesses. You may apply online or by mail using these forms.

EIDLs offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. 

For more information, please visit the SBA's website on COVID-19 disaster assistance, call 1-800-659-2955, or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

In addition to the EIDL program, SBA has other resources available for small business support. Contact their Chicago District Office at 312-353-4528 or illinois.do@sba.gov, or visit their website for more information. Local staff are available to assist you.
State of Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Program
Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes. 

Grant funds are available 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. Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.

Click here for the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program application.
Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund
Just released! Loan applications are now being accepted for the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund. Click here to access the loan application.

Earlier in March, Mayor Lightfoot announced a new $100 million economic relief package to support Chicago's small businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Who qualifies for a loan?
In order to be considered for a loan under the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund, business owners must meet the following qualifications:
  • Suffer more than 25 percent revenue decrease due to COVID-19
  • Employ fewer than 50 employees
  • Have gross revenues of less than $3 million in 2019
  • Provide a City business address or City business license
  • Have no pre-existing tax liens or legal judgments

What documents will I need to provide?
  • Applicants should be prepared to provide the following information:
  • Bank statements dating back to October 2019
  • Most recent tax return
  • Photo ID (CityKey will be accepted)

What are the terms of these loans?
  • Repayment Term: Low-interest loans for a term of up to five years.
  • Loan Amount: Up to $50,000 but sized based on revenues before the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Loan Proceeds: Proceeds are required to be used for working capital. At least 50 percent of proceeds should be applied toward payroll and commitment to retain the workforce at 50 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.
City Temporarily Suspending Fines & Tax Payments
The City of Chicago will temporarily defer all business fine collections, as well as license renewal and late fees, until April 30th, 2020. The City is also extending due dates for tax payments until April 30th, 2020 for the following City taxes:
  • Bottled Water tax
  • Checkout Bag tax
  • Amusement tax
  • Hotel Accommodation tax
  • Restaurant tax
  • Parking tax
Cook County Financial Relief Package
With businesses and residents facing so many challenges and difficulties created by the coronavirus, Cook County is moving to waive various County fines, fees and deferring tax collections. Waiving these fines and fees and deferring the County’s tax collection will assist businesses in terms of cash flow to the tune of $35 million during these trying times. This can provide some breathing room for businesses that are struggling. 

Under this relief package, due dates for Home Rule Taxes like the Alcoholic Beverage Tax, Amusement Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gasoline and Hotel Accommodations Tax will be pushed back. So will numerous fines and fees under the jurisdictions of the Departments of Transportation and Highways, Environment and Sustainability, Revenue, Building and Zoning and Public Health.

Click here to view the full list of business-friendly efforts.
​​​​​Illinois Liquor Control Commission
Please visit the Illinois Liquor Control Commission website for guidance regarding COVID-19 related developments within the liquor industry. This includes updates on delivery of alcohol, license renewal extensions, etc.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.  Click here for "The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act". 

Small Businesses
  • $377 billion for the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act, which will help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • $350 billion worth of 100 percent guaranteed SBA loans, a portion of which SBA will forgive based on allowable expenses for the borrower, through a new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • $10 billion in direct grants for businesses that do not qualify for the EIDL program
  • $17 billion for to have SBA step in and make six months of principle and interest payments for all SBA backed business loans
  • $562 million for SBA to administer Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to businesses that need financial support. SBA has signed emergency declarations for all 50 and the territories, so the EDIL program will be able to help small businesses across the country.

Department of Labor/Unemployment Insurance 
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020 to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
  • Supplemental Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation -Through July 31, 2020, the federal government would provide an additional temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 a week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation (UC) benefits
  • Allows employers to receive an advance on the tax credit for required paid family leave implemented in Families First Coronavirus Response Ac from Treasury instead of having to be reimbursed on the back end
  • The bill includes $360 million for the Department of Labor to invest in programs that provide training and supportive services for dislocated workers, seniors, migrant farmworkers, and homeless veterans. This also includes funding for DOL agencies to ensure new Paid Leave and UI benefits are implemented swiftly and effectively.
Direct Payments to Americans 
  • 1 time direct payment $1,200 (individuals), $2,400 (joint filers), and an additional $500 per child
  • Based on 2019 tax returns for those who have filed and 2018 tax return for those who have not
  • Income eligibility: Full amount for individuals making up to $75,000 (individual) and $150,000 (joint filers) who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible SSN. The direct payment amount begins decreasing and then phases out completely for those making over the full payment income cap. Completely phases out at $99,000 (individuals) and $198,000 (joint filers)
Unemployment Benefits for Workers Impacted by COVID-19
If your business was forced to temporarily close and employees laid off to COVID-19, your employees may qualify for unemployment benefits under emergency rules filed by Governor Pritzker last week. For the full press release, click here.

Here is a Q&A guide release by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). For more information on the application process and/or to file an application, employees may visit this website.
IRS Updates for Small Businesses
Tax Day is now July 15!
  • The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced March 21 that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.
  • Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.
  • Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible.
  • For a list of frequently asked questions, go to the Filing and Payment Deadlines Questions and Answers page at IRS.gov.
  • For this and other COVID-19 related news, see the special section on IRS.gov focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the pandemic.

Coronavirus-related Paid Leave & Tax Credits for Small Businesses
  • The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced in a March 20 news release that soon, small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
  • This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.
  • For more information, click here to view the complete March 20 IRS news release.
BACP COVID-19 Resource Website for Business Owners
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has launched a new website, which will continue to be updated with additional guidance and resources for employers in response to COVID-19. For more information, click here.
ChiBizHub Resource Website for Business Owners
ChiBizHub, an initiative of World Business Chicago, is dedicated to supporting Chicago’s small business community. They have created this page as one place you can regularly turn to for updated resources and information to help your business weather the storm. For more information, click here.
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Resource Website for Business Owners
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce created a COVID-19 Resource page, which is a a go-to source of information for the business community. With state, local and federal links, as well as government and small business loan information, this page will help businesses navigate the current options available to support them and their employees. For more information, click here.
Go Fund Me - Frequently Asked Question
The Chamber received questions regarding employers setting up a Go Fund Me page for their employees. Would employees be ineligible for Unemployment if they accepted these funds? Would the employer be taxed on those funds before distributing it to employees?

In short, the answer to both questions is no. Donations made to Go Fund me campaigns are considered to personal gifts which, for the most part, aren't taxed as income. Go Fund Me does not report donations as income at the end of the year, or issue any tax documents. The Go Fund Me Platform receives its revenue by taking a percentage of the donations.
Business to Business Deals - COVID19
Candice C. Cusic Photography- Complimentary Portraits of West Town Business Owners
Candice C. Cusic Photography has started "Save Local Businesses: West Town." Her goal for this project is to photograph (from a distance) local West Town business owners in front of their shops, share their stories, and provide a face behind their closed doors and dark windows.

If you want to participate in this project and receive a complimentary photo from Candice, along with a social media post highlighting your story and business during this difficult time, please sign up here. We will be sharing these posts and your stories on our West Town Chicago social media pages as well.

Chris Hunt, owner of Seek Vintage, is her first featured post.
David Hardin - Cultivate Advisors
In response to the current COVID-19 Pandemic, Chicago-headquartered small business advising firm, Cultivate Advisors, is offering free 1 and 2 hour advising sessions to help business owners navigate through the next 30-60 days. 

As experts in partnering with small business owners 1:1 to weather these kinds of storms, Cultivate Advisors can help you manage cash flow and find innovative ways to survive and then thrive in the next few months. 

Book a call here to get your free advising session scheduled today.
Michele Taylor Photography
Michele Taylor Photography is offering her services free of charge for anyone that would need visual imagery for their websites, social media, blogs, marketing collateral, etc!

To set up an appointment, you can contact Michele here.
Lucky Prints
Lucky Prints has initiated a program to help fellow businesses raise funds while their brick-and-mortar stores may be shuddered.

The goal is for support businesses in raising funds to help their staff out and to ensure they’re able to make it though this challenging time. The program is free and all Lucky Prints needs is for participants to send any logo or graphics and they will help put together some product ideas and build the site out.

Below are some currently running site for reference:

For more information, contact Lucky Prints here.
2020 Special Event Calendar
The West Town Chamber has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Illinois and its potential impact on our 2020 events, specifically to Do Division Street Festival scheduled May 29-31. The safety of our participants, attendees, staff, and artists is of paramount importance and we will continue to follow the leadership of our public health and government officials.

The Board of Directors of the West Town Chamber of Commerce will assess the situation and discuss, and we hope to make an official announcement in mid-April (after the April 9th Board Meeting) regarding Do Division Street Fest 2020.

Please check the festival website www.do-divisionstreetfest.com for updates this month. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and appreciate your understanding in this evolving global situation.

The West Town Chamber of Commerce produces a number of special events throughout the year to promote the chamber, the West Town commercial districts, to foster economic development, and provide area wide marketing. Funds raised at these events supplement the chamber’s operating budget and benefit specific commercial corridors, local schools, parks, and other local non-profits.

West Town Chamber members receive priority acceptance and members within the service area also get discounted vendor and sponsor rates on Chamber produced events. Contact info@westtownchamber.org for more information on the 2020 events.

*All 2020 Events are pending approvals and permits. 2020 event dates and locations are subject to change.
Upcoming Member Meetings
SSA Commission Meeting
Thursday, April 2nd
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
via Zoom (Contact Kace Wakem for meeting info)

  • We encourage stakeholders and interested community members to attend. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month. The Open Meetings Act requires SSA meetings to be open to the public.
  • The Commissioners are all stakeholders and they exclusively vote on West Town SSA programs and budgets. Commission meeting minutes, SSA budgets, and SSA work plans can be found on the SSA website under the "Transparency" tab.
Do Division Street Fest Business/Vendor Meeting
**Postponed due to COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines**
Thursday, April 2nd
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
at Folklore Argentine Restaurant (2100 W. Division St.)

  • Division Street business are highly encouraged to attend, especially business owners located within the site plan on Division between Damen and Leavitt.
  • At the meeting we will review the site plan, review the special event "rules of the road" as they pertain to bars, restaurants, and retailers within the site. We will also review the vendor application process, sponsorship opportunities... and answer any questions our Members and/or local businesses may have regarding Do Division 2020.
  • Click here to RSVP.
Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, April 9th
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
via Zoom

  • Monthly Chamber of Commerce Board of Director meetings are held on the second Thursday of every month with committee reports and agenda items approved by Board President.
  • It is a closed meeting for the Board of Directors.
  • If interested in joining the Board, a Chamber Committee, or introducing an agenda item please contact: sbemer@westtownchamber.org
Photo Credit: REP3 
Late Night on Chicago Avenue
**Postponed due to COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines**

Thursday, April 16th
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Chicago Avenue from Milwaukee to Western

  • Join the Lost Girls Vintage, Paperish Mess, and the West Town Chamber & SSA as they host Late Night on Chicago Ave.
  • Email Kace at KWakem@westtownchamber.org if you want to participate on May 21 and June 18th.
Member Mixer at the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America
**Postponed due to COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines**

Thursday, April 23rd
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
at the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (984 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

  • Join the West Town Chamber and the Polish American Chamber of Commerce (PACC) as we connect at the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA) for the April Member Mixer!
  • Guests will also enjoy music, refreshments, and a specialized tour of the PRCUA and the Polish Museum.
  • These events are a great way for Chamber members to get together, shake some hands, talk about their business, and learn how the Chamber might fit their business from those in the community who know first-hand about the benefits – other Chamber members. Everyone is invited to this no-program event and there is no charge to attend – we are at the courtesy of our host.
Styling Lab & Professional Headshots at Chicago Ave. Salon
**Postponed due to COVID-19 Social Distancing Guidelines**
Thursday, April 30th
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
at Chicago Avenue Salon (1941 W. Chicago Ave.)

  • Is your headshot out of date? Looking to update your business profile on LinkedIn? The West Town Chamber and Chicago Ave. Salon want to help you put your best face forward! 
  • In addition to the headshots, Chicago Ave. Salon will also be hosting a styling lab. You will learn from their pros about styling your hair at home and how to get that "salon look" through demonstrations on volunteers.
  • All active Chamber Members are welcome to join for the styling lab but a RSVP is required for headshots as there are only 20 spots available. Headshots to be provided by photographer Niko Sulek.
SSA Updates
Grants Opportunities
The SSA has four grant opportunities, open year round, that you can take advantage of if you are located in the West Town SSA! They are available until the money runs out:

Please take a look at the applications by clicking on the grant you are interested in. If you would like to discuss the program or have any questions regarding the applications, please contact SSA Program Director, Kace Wakem at KWakem@westtownchamber.org.

Safety Resources
Neighborhood News
Neighborhood Association Meetings
There are several highly active neighborhood associations within West Town that meet regularly and would love to have representatives from local businesses attend! Their contact info is in the links below so reach out, attend an upcoming meeting, and introduce yourself and your business.

Special THANKS to Our Community Partner & Community Champion Chamber Members!
About Us
2020 Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Lesley Timpe, Squasht Boutique - President
Evan Muellner, Pie-Eyed Pizzeria - Vice President
Julia Skuibida, American Family Insurance - Secretary
Greg Whipple, American Eagle Bank - Treasurer
Jen Brown, Hangout Lighting - Director
Victoria Kolar, Soundscape Studios - Director
Joe Lauer, Penelope's - Director
Karen Woodbury, The Superior Street Center for the Arts - Director

2020 West Town SSA Commissioners

Michael Van Dam, Residential Property Owner
Chris Hunt , Seek Vintage
Jenny Rossignuolo , Urban Source 
Steven Tobiason , Epic Spices
Sara Dulkin, Chicago Truborn
Adam Williams, Reach Fieldhouse
Candice Cusic, Candice C. Cusic Photography
Nora McCarthy, Gallery 2052

2020 West Town Chamber of Commerce Staff

Kara Salgado, Executive Director
Susan Aldous, Operations Director
Kace Wakem, SSA Program Director
Sara Bemer, Membership Director
Deana Martin, Bookkeeper
Click here for the full West Town Chamber Member Directory 
West Town Chamber of Commerce | 1819 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago IL 60622 | 312-850-9390 info@westtownchamber.org | www.westtownchamber.org