Cook County officials are marking Small Business Week, which runs through Saturday, with the launch of a new initiative aimed at supporting small businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Small Business Week is about acknowledging and supporting our employers who create jobs and strengthen our communities,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at a Monday morning news conference. “Today, we will celebrate and acknowledge the small businesses that are the backbone of our communities.”
The program includes a pair of webinars this week for business owners on expanding your customer base (9 a.m. Tuesday) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (9:30 a.m. Thursday). Attendance is free, but registration is required.
Officials have also created social media graphics and window decals for small business owners to use during Small Business Week.
Last year, Cook County launched the Small Business Assistance program, which has provided $16.9 million in grants to nearly 2,000 small business owners experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
“A lot of our businesses have suffered” during the pandemic, said Commissioner Alma Anaya (7th District). “They say oftentimes that our masks and getting vaccinated saves lives, but the grant and the program save businesses. They save families.”
Ramon Torres, who owns Aztec Dave’s Food Truck, received a Small Business Assistance grant that he said has helped him keep his business afloat.
“Reflecting back on last year, our entire business was turned upside down. It was a point of uncertainty. We needed some resources to use and gain momentum, and this grant really helped us pay our bills, employees and keep the project going,” Torres said.
Officials also encouraged residents to shop local.
“Small businesses … have been there for us and our communities, not only throughout this pandemic but throughout existence. And it’s critical that we’re there for them,” said Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (1st District).
The Small Business Assistance program also includes free business advising, webinars, grants and loan application assistance. To learn more about available programs and services, visit Cook County’s website.