Downtown Highland Park businesses have been forced to close for a week as law enforcement authorities investigate the July 4 parade shooting, where a gunman killed seven people and wounded dozens more, and they are just beginning to calculate the impact. economic and human aspects of the event.
Stores, offices and restaurants located beyond the four-square-block police perimeter were also affected as people dealt with the trauma of the massacre’s aftermath.
“The tail end of this tragedy is going to be very long,” U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park, said after a Monday news conference where federal and local officials discussed available business relief.
Schneider, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, and U.S. Small Business Administration officials discussed the relief available to businesses and other organizations affected by the shooting Monday at the SBA’s temporary Business Recovery Center. in the center of Highland Park.
The SBA is offering loans of up to $2 million to help businesses and nonprofits recover from the impact of the shooting. Geri Sánchez Aglipay, SBA regional administrator for the area, said affected businesses in Lake, Cook, McHenry and Kenosha counties are eligible.
Rotering discussed the recently approved $500,000 grant program for businesses forced to close between July 4 and 10 because they were located within the perimeter of the investigation. Those businesses were singled out as the most affected by the damage inflicted by the gunman.
“Some of your employees were shot. They are dealing with physical damage and emotional trauma,” said Rotering. “Thousands of people who were in the parade felt the trauma and need help. They need to be taken care of.”
Highland Park grant applicants must apply by Aug. 19, according to a city news release. Prizes will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis and will be calculated on historical revenue records. Restaurants can claim up to 75% of losses and other businesses up to 50%. They must agree to pay the wages of employees scheduled to work at that time.
Liliana Tschanet, an SBA public affairs specialist, said she is touring downtown Highland Park meeting with area businesses to learn about their needs and educate them on the agency’s loan programs.
The SBA Business Recovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays in the lobby of the First Bank of Highland Park at 1835 First St. Aglipay said representatives are there to help people with the application process. and answer questions.
Although the resource center closes permanently on August 11, Aglipay said the deadline to apply for a loan is April 25 next year. One reason for the nine-month window is that some of the costs may not be known for a while, as the “long tail” Schneider described grows.
“People are still grappling with when to return to downtown Highland Park,” Schneider said. “Thousands of people were affected by this. People will have to accept it and the economic impact is unknown.”
Businesses and nonprofits can apply for a loan of up to $2 million with a term of up to 30 years, according to SBA documentation. The interest rate is 2.935% for companies and 1.875% for non-profit operations.
Aglipay said that if a business applies for a loan of a certain amount and then learns that its losses were greater, it can apply for more as long as SBA procedures are followed. The resources of some community service organizations, such as those offering counseling, were severely taxed.
“They had an exponential increase in demand,” Aglipay said. “They had to bring in more people, and they are still doing it. This was a massive tragedy in Highland Park.”