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COVID-19 Business Resource Center

We’re here to fuel your business through the COVID-19 outbreak.

We know our small business customers are facing unprecedented economic disruption during this time. That’s why we’ve created a COVID-19 Business Resource Page to help you navigate the resources available in one centralized place.

Local Resources

State and Local Chamber

State and local chambers also have information, resources and updates to help small businesses during the Coronavirus crisis.

Rebuild Illinois: Fast Track Public Infrastructure Program FAQs

What are Fast-Track Capital grants?

  • This program reallocates $25 million in funding from the Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure program to be used to fund public infrastructure projects that are ready to be started this construction season.
  • In recognition of the revenue loss felt by cities across our state due to COVID-19 and the job loss felt economywide, we’ve designed this program to help governments jumpstart planned capital projects.
  • All projects that receive awards will be required to start within 90 days of receiving a Notice of State Award Finalist (NOSAF), and will be required to provide documentation in their application that they are ready to do so.
  • Grants will be at least $500,000, and DCEO may award up to $5 million per applicant.
  • Grants will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until June 15, 2020.

Where do I go to get information on how to apply?

Who can apply?

  • Any local government in Illinois can apply. This includes cities, villages, counties, townships, school districts, and special districts.

What types of projects are eligible?

  • All projects must be public infrastructure and eligible for capital grants. This means they must be public assets, must be permanent in nature, and must not include recurring expenses.
  • All projects must be ready to start within 90 days of receiving a Notice of State Award Finalist (NOSAF)
  • Examples of eligible projects are projects that entail new construction and/or significant renovation or improvements of:
  • Publicly owned buildings, facilities, and parks
  • Publicly owned industrial and commercial sites
  • Waste disposal systems
  • Water and sewer line extensions
  • Water distribution and purification facilities
  • Gas and electric utility extensions
  • Dredging of waterways
  • Rail, air, or water port improvements
  • ADA-compliant sidewalks, curb and gutters
  • Previously unimproved WPA streets
  • Other public infrastructure capital improvements
  • Grant funds cannot be used for the following expenses:
  • Administration or Activity Delivery costs associated with the management of grant activities.
  • Indirect costs.
  • General government expenses.
  • Costs of operating and maintaining public infrastructure and services (e.g., mowing parks, replacing streetlight bulbs).
  • Servicing or refinancing of existing debt.
  • Planning only activities.
  • Demolition only activities.

What does “shovel ready” mean?

All projects will be required to demonstrate that they are ready to start. This includes, if applicable:

  • Current construction permit or permit application
  • Proof of land ownership/lease/option to purchase land
  • Control of right-of-way
  • Agreement for water/wastewater treatment
  • Project Location Map
  • Floodplain Map
  • Approvals for non-state funding
  • Additionally, all projects must be ready to start within 90 days of receiving Notice of State Award Finalist (NOSAF), which would have these projects initiate this year.

What is a Notice of State Award Finalist (NOSAF)?

  • This is the initial notice that applicants will receive to notify them that they will receive funding.
  • Since this is a rolling application process, this notice will be provided shortly after reviewing applications that meet a scoring cutoff.
  • Once a NOSAF has been provided, the grantee still has to complete an environmental review and comply with several other requirements to receive a grant.

What happened to the Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure grant that you released a few months ago?

  • It is still open and receiving applications.
  • The total funding available through that program is now $25 million.
  • All other details about that program, including application requirements, deadlines, eligible applicants and projects, etc., continue to apply.

If I do not receive a Fast-Track award, can I still receive one under the Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure grant program?

  • Yes. We encourage applicants who fail to receive a Fast-Track award that have projects eligible for the Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure program to apply to that program, as well.

Do I benefit from getting my Fast-Track application in quickly?

  • Yes. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, until funding is depleted or until June 15, 2020, whichever comes first.

What scoring criteria will be used?

  • Projects will be scored on a 100-point scale
  • Capacity (25 points) – Clear plan, secured funding, clear timeline, ability to obtain necessary permits
  • Community Need (30 points) – Located in an underserved area and/or opportunity zone, local gov’t fiscal capacity, current infrastructure poses risk to health or safety
  • Creation of Jobs (25 points) – Points scale up to 25 jobs
  • Project Quality (20 points) – Strategically located, impact on economic development, minority inclusion plan, detailed and complete proposal and budget

How will you determine which projects will receive grants?

  • Grants will be awarded on a rolling, first-come, first qualified, first awarded basis.
  • All grants that receive a score above 80 will be recommended for a grant.
  • To ensure that these funds are issued in a timely manner in line with the goal of this grant program, if $15 million in grants have not yet been awarded once applications submitted by May 31 have been reviewed, DCEO will recommend awards in the following order based on those applications until $15 million has been awarded:
  • Projects that received between 70 and 80 points and have the highest score in their region, in descending order of score
  • The remaining projects that received between 70 and 80 points, in descending order of score.
  • Projects that received a score over 70 that would bring applicant’s total grants above the $5 million threshold, in descending order of score.

We will repeat the above process to ensure all $25 million in grant funds are awarded following review of applications submitted by the June 15 deadline. 

Are there any requirements to ensure minority inclusion?

  • Applicants are required to provide a minority inclusion plan and fill out a Minority Benefit Statement, where the applicant will be required to identify a goal for the percentage of funded contracts to be awarded to minority contractors compared to minority population in the impacted community. Part of the applicants’ score will be based on the minority inclusion plan and Minority Benefit Statement.
  • All projects will be required to comply with requirements for minority contractor participation as outlined in state Business Enterprise Program (BEP) requirements.
  • A significant number of points are awarded to projects that are located in an underserved area or Opportunity Zone.

How will the department prioritize where the money is spent? Is there a geographic distribution requirement?

  • Extra points will be awarded for being located in an underserved area or in an Opportunity Zone.
  • In addition, DCEO will prioritize awarding projects that represent a broad geographic distribution across the state.

Will there be webinars provided with more information? Do I need to register?

  • Yes. The DCEO Office of Community Development will host two webinars with details on the program and the application process at the following times:
  • Friday, May 15, at 10 AM
  • Tuesday, May 19, at 12:30 PM
  • Registration will be available here.

What other grant funding opportunities are available for local governments right now?

  • In addition to the Fast-Track program, the following programs are currently open and receiving applications:
  • Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure program, for local governments to make major investments in infrastructure. Applications for this program are due June 30.
  • Rebuild Illinois Regional Economic Development program, for economic development capital projects in line with regional economic plans. These applications are being accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Rebuild Illinois Shovel-Ready Sites program, for significant renovations or site preparation to get a structure or site of regional significance ready for future investment

If the max grant allocation allowed is $5M – then what is stopping just a handful of projects from clearing out all the grant moneys available? How many projects might receive the money?

  • We expect a wide range of project types to apply, and all else equal, larger projects will not receive significant advantages over a smaller project.
  • It’s hard to say how many projects will receive the funding—this is dependent on applications received, their ability to start projects within 90 days, and applications received for projects in underserved/disadvantaged communities.
  • Equal consideration will be given to projects of large and small sizes.

Learn about your relief options

Coronavirus Relief Options for Small Businesses

The CARES Act established several new temporary programs administered by the Small Business Administration to provide small businesses relief during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Source: Small Business Administration

Learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration is offering loans to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program beginning April 3 through local lenders and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans at any time on the SBA website.

The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to keep employees paid and businesses operating. The loans will cover 8 weeks of payroll, mortgage/rent, and utility costs between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

Paycheck Protection Program Overview Sheet

This is a basic overview about the Paycheck Protection Program and how to apply.

Source: U.S. Department of Treasury

Paycheck Protection Program Information Sheet

This fact sheet provides more detailed information about the Paycheck protection program, who can apply and how it works.

Source: U.S. Department of Treasury 

Find a Lender

Lender Lookup Tool

Use the Small Business Association’s Lender Lookup Tool to find a participating lender who can help you with your Paycheck Protection Program loan application.
Source: Small Business Association

Resources for our HVAC and Builder Community

ASHRAE COVID-19 Resources

ASHRAE has developed guidance to help address COVID-19 concerns with respect to the operation and maintenance of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems.
Source: ASHRAE

HARDI COVID-19 Resources

HARDI has developed helpful tools to help contractors navigate the temporary relief programs for small businesses, including a tool to help businesses determine which loan option is right for them.

Resources for Diverse Businesses

As a part of our commitment to supplier diversity, Southern Company Gas offers exclusive resources to help our diverse business partners navigate during the COVID-19 outbreak, both internally through our own training webinars and in partnership with our business diversity advocacy organizations in each state we operate in. Check back as we add additional links and resources here for diverse suppliers, visit our supplier diversity pages (below), or contact us at

Key Takeaways from “Navigating the Paycheck Protection Program” webinar

This document outlines the key takeaways from our recent webinar, Navigating the Paycheck Protection Program. Included are:

  • Small & Diverse Business Advocacy Support Organizations with links to websites
  • CARES Act Loans Comparison Chart with key information on each loan
  • Paycheck Protection Program FAQ sheet with links to SBA resources
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application