Choose Chicago is actively engaged with city and state officials, as well as our clients and customers, to provide you with the latest news and updates as the coronavirus situation evolves. We stand with our industry colleagues in encouraging continued support of Chicago businesses, while consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local public health authorities.
We have included several resources for you and your colleagues that include relevant information and updates regarding your business, our city, and a national context on this important issue.
If you have any questions, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for our partners
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released a five-phase framework, Protecting Chicago, that outlines her plan for safely reopening the city.
- Learn more about opening responsibly with local health and safety guidelines for different industries.
- Governor JB Pritzker also shared a five-phase plan, Restore Illinois, with benchmarks and guidelines for reopening the state while protecting public health.
- Chicago Hospitality Grant Program
The City of Chicago has launched the Chicago Hospitality Grant Program. This $10 million grant program is targeted towards Chicago’s restaurants and bars that continue to face significant challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. Opening for applications this month, the Chicago Hospitality Grant Program will supplement state and federal relief programs with grants of $10,000 to independent bars and restaurants.
- Local Restaurant Grants from Doordash
DoorDash, together with the Illinois Restaurant Association and Mayor Lightfoot, has announced $500,000 in grants for local restaurants in Chicago. Eligible restaurants can apply to receive a $5,000 grant to help cover winterization expenses such as the cost of heating equipment, additional safety materials to improve indoor dining, and more.
- Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG)
Applications for a second round of funding are set to go live Sept. 17. A total of $220 million will be made available for small businesses of all types in Illinois who have experienced revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. These BIG grants will be limited to companies with $20 million or less in revenue in 2019.
- City of Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund
Mayor Lightfoot announced the creation of the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund. This fund will start with more than $100 million in targeted, low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses. These loans are designed to provide much needed cash- flow relief for neighborhood entrepreneurs.
- State of Illinois Small Business Administration Loans
Governor Pritzker announced that small businesses in Illinois are now eligible to apply for low-interest Small Business Administration loans. Each individual small business is eligible for up to $2 million loans. You can learn more about the program and apply for assistance.
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses during this challenging time.
- Temporary job opportunities
Explore hundreds of temporary jobs at groceries and retailers throughout the state, compiled by the Illinois Restaurant Association.
- Arts for Illinois funding
Illinois artists and art organizations can apply for grants from the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.
- Events Industry Relief — A petition advocating for a COVID-19 federal aid package for the events industry.
- Miles Partnership has compiled insights, webinars, and recommendations for tourism organizations.
- Forbes Travel is offering complimentary training webinars and videos for the hospitality industry.
- Destinations International is sharing webinars and community resources.
- U.S. Travel Association has the latest travel data and industry research.
- Connect Travel is hosting virtual roundtables about the state of the travel industry.
If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers. Learn the steps on how to adjust business hours to reflect temporary closure. Additional items to be mindful of:
- Update information about temporary closure in the business description.
- Create a post on the Business Profile to alert customers about the current situation.
- Use this as an ongoing tool to provide helpful information.
You might also want to consider updating your Tripadvisor listing. Learn more.
During this time, it’s crucial to maintain an active social media presence. There are numerous innovative ways to engage with a home-bound audience to reflect the unique personality of your business. Consider posting the following:
- Fun, lighthearted content, whether it’s letting the animals loose around the museum, performing an opera from your living room, or holding a virtual cooking class, there are so many ways to engage audiences from the comfort of their home (and yours!).
- Digital offerings including virtual tours, video tours, and more.
- Community goodwill initiatives such as a fundraiser or making something that is in short supply to those in need
- Live stream feed sharing a how-to, tutorial, etc.
- Get in the spirit of the Year of Chicago Music! Share a Spotify playlist of favorite Chicago musicians from your chef, artist, curator, mixologist, performer, captain, or staff member.
- Share your favorite Chicago podcast, books, movies or television shows.
- Chef/mixologist creating inventive recipes one can make at home during this time.
Don’t forget to tag us @choosechicago if you have content to share with us so we can amplify your reach!
- Social sharing opportunities:
- Twitter: You can @mention (@choosechicago) in the text of the tweet or send the tweet via direct message once posted.
- Facebook: Send to @choosechicago using the Facebook Messenger direct message feature .
- Instagram Story: tag @choosechicago by either including in the copy or using the @mention sticker or send your Instagram Story to @choosechicago using the “Send to…” option once you’ve posted.
- You can also email links to your social content to email@example.com.
Health & safety resources
- The City of Chicago shares local updates, travel alerts and tips to help minimize risk.
- The State of Illinois shares daily state-wide updates and advice.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) features the latest global updates, health and travel information and guidance for large gatherings.
- The World Health Organization offers advice, reports and updates on the outbreak.
Additional resources for restaurants
- OpenTable will be offering new features and price cuts to help restaurants reopen. They’ve also launched a webinar series to discuss the state of the industry and create a sense of community.
- The National Restaurant Association has developed reopening guidance to help restaurants open safely and to reassure the public that social gathering for a meal is, again, a safe activity.
If you have not already, we highly encourage you to include your curbside, takeout, and delivery options on Dining at a Distance. This site is a resource to get the word out about your restaurant’s offerings and connect you to potential customers looking to support local businesses.
During this time, it’s crucial to maintain an active social media presence. We highly encourage you to create an Instagram Story on your business Instagram channel with text indicating what your restaurant is offering during this time (carry-out, pick up, delivery, specials, deals). We will be able to share your content on our channel as appropriate if you do the following:
- Be sure to tag @choosechicago by either including in the copy or using the @mention sticker.
- You can also send your Instagram Story to @choosechicago using the “Send to…” option once you’ve posted.
- Illinois Restaurant Association — Encourage federal government support for the Illinois Restaurant Association’s restaurant recovery plan.
- Save America’s Restaurants — This petition from American Chefs calls on local and federal lawmakers to swiftly implement financial relief for restaurants across the country.
Industry support opportunities
- James Beard Foundation Relief Fund – The James Beard Foundation is launching a fund that will gather support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.
- Virtual Tip Jars – Eater Chicago has a running log of merchandise, prizes, and donation opportunities to help bridge the gap for restaurant employees during the mandated closure.