hbPARK FOREST -  To assist local businesses impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19,  State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) is reminding residents of state and federal programs that may help business owners facing hardship.

“Small local businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. We must support them during these trying times,” Joyce said. “There are a variety of disaster assistance programs available to help give our local businesses the support they desperately need.”

Joyce encourages business owners to apply for up to $2 million in low-interest disaster assistance loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Interested applicants can apply directly at sba.gov/disaster.

The Illinois Department of Revenue will also defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants in Illinois. Find more information and check whether your business qualifies here.

“We need to come together at every level of government to support local businesses and communities, “Joyce said. “This pandemic is affecting everyone, and we’ll come out of it more strongly if we all work together.”

Those without access to paid sick leave or who are unable to work because of COVID-19 can call the Illinois Department of Employment Security at 1-800-244-5631 to apply for unemployment benefits. More information is available here. The department has hired additional staff and expanded business hours to handle an increased volume of calls. Callers may experience long wait times but are encouraged to stay on the call, even if they hear a busy line signal.

Joyce stated that even if his office is closed, his staff is working remotely to answer questions and address concerns from constituents. He urges residents to reach out by calling (708) 756-0882 or by visiting http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/contact-me.

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