Downtown Springfield Inc. polled downtown businesses and non-profits from March 31-April 3 to find out what impact COVID-19 has had on the neighborhood. More than 40% of respondents reported a drop in revenue above 75%. At least 20% of the downtown workforce has been laid off, mostly in the hospitality sector. This number is likely under-representative, as the survey asked for “layoffs over 20 individuals” as a category, far below the number of employees likely affected through 5% occupancy at downtown hotels. The need for rapid distribution of stimulus dollars is apparent in the survey results. Most restaurants can survive only 1-2 months in the current state; a majority of businesses can make it 3-5 months before being at risk of closing permanently. Gap financing varies by sector as well — a majority of downtown retailers need gap financing through June 1 of less than $10,000, with a majority of bars and restaurants needing $20,000-$50,000 to make it through to that date.
USDA is opening a second application window for funding under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. “Due to the COVID-19 National Emergency, USDA is providing an additional window for those who cannot complete applications prior to the first application deadline,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand. “This action will provide more time for applicants to complete their funding requests. Access to distance learning and telemedicine makes it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances or be among large groups of people.” Electronic applications for window two may be submitted through grants.gov beginning April 14, 2020, and are due no later than July 13, 2020. Paper applications will not be accepted under the second window. Additional information on how to apply will be available on grants.gov on April 14.
USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more.
The Illinois Office of Broadband is extending the application deadline for the current funding round until 5pm on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. From the Connect Illinois website: “We recognize the hard work many applicants have invested in this grant process, the urgent need for better broadband access throughout the state, and the mounting challenges impacting nearly every aspect of our daily lives. For these reasons, we want to ensure that applications underway have an opportunity to be completed – and we want to help those eager to extend critical connectivity throughout un/underserved areas of the state make as much progress toward this end as soon as possible.” Check the Applicant Update page for information.