It’s no secret that bars and restaurants in DuPage and Will counties are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Naperville is looking at several ways to help those businesses.
“We’re talking today about kicking in an in-house delivery,” said Naperville Development Partnership President Christine Jeffries. “We’ve all read about DoorDash and some of the other companies that are getting about 30% [of the share]. A lot of people are going straight to those apps and ordering the food.”
Jeffries said while those delivery apps help restaurants, some businesses are looking at offering some sort of in-house delivery so they can keep staff employed.
Tomorrow will mark two weeks since Governor J.B. Pritzker announced enhanced mitigations would be in place in both counties due to a rise in COVID-19 positivity rates. The order closed indoor dining and indoor bar service, but does allow outdoor dining, so the City of Naperville is getting creative.
“The city is in the process of starting a test pilot with a railcar, a boxcar,” said Jeffries. “They’re going to carve it out, put in sliding doors, and it fits perfectly in one of the downtown parking spots… The first one is going to drop next week at Features [Bar & Grill]. Once we see how that goes they think they can bring them in for under $5,000.”
If things go well with the test pilot, Jefferies said there may be more boxcars throughout the Downtown Naperville area. The Downtown Naperville Alliance will help with the decorations of the boxcars.
Community Development Block Grant
Jeffries also mentioned the City of Naperville is in the process of offering small businesses some relief with the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“The city has assigned $100,000 for the first round,” said Jeffries. “There maybe additional funds coming in, if so we’ll go into additional rounds. We’ll be able to have up to 20, maybe even more, up to $5,000 for Naperville small businesses.”
To apply, a business must:
- Be open and operating in Naperville City limits with a valid Naperville certificate of occupancy.
- Be owned by a U.S. citizen or legal resident and employ 50 or fewer people.
- Have annual revenue of less than $2 million in 2019.
- Be able to document a negative impact of the pandemic on business income.
Grants are for small businesses that are open right now, and grants applications will open November 12 through November 19 and will be awarded the week after, according to Jeffries.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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