$2.2T federal coronavirus stimulus package could be lifeline for many Chicago-area businesses

It's been a bleak start to spring with most Chicago-area businesses padlocked, trying to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A fraction of restaurants are operating on skeleton crews funded only by takeout and delivery orders.

"We're just trying to make sure we keep the doors open and waiting for a good option to come our way," said Frank Maza, owner of DSTRKT Bar and Grill in Wicker Park.

On Friday, the federal government may have brought that option by passing and signing the largest stimulus bill in American history. The goal of the $2 trillion bailout is to line Americans' pockets with cash.

RELATED: Trump signs $2.2T coronavirus stimulus package after swift congressional votes

"Individuals will receive up to $1,200 per taxpayer, up to income of $75,000 per year, $500 more per child," said Jeremy Glenn, a labor and employment attorney at Cozen O'Connor.

Even people who are temporarily unemployed can now collect state and federal checks.

This won't apply to Emily Sutherlin at Katherine Anne confections in Wicker Park.

"We don't want people to end up needing to find a job elsewhere. We want to keep them paid. We want to keep them with us," Sutherlin said.

Stimulus check calculator:

Glenn said the financial relief is available to independent contractors, freelance journalists and those who are self-employed.

"We've done research and everything leads to loans," DSTRKT owner Frank Maza said.

The small business loans in the stimulus bill are different, according to experts.

"The new stimulus package starts as a loan but it's forgivable if it's used to retain or rehire employees," Glenn said.

For family owned businesses, that federal, forgivable loan could be a lifeline.

"That would allow us to stay open, keep operating, have funds to get through until we can figure out what that picture looks like for us on the other side," Sutherlin said.
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