Highland Park frees up funds for businesses in shooting investigation’s perimeter
Village manager gives overview of emergency response in first meeting since July 4 tragedy
Many downtown Highland Park businesses are eligible for financial relief in the wake of the Fourth of July tragedy.
The Highland Park City Council approved on Monday, July 25, a grant program for the dozens of businesses that were required to close for a week following the shooting.
Council members OK’d an initial fund of $500,000 for the Business Recover Grant Program, which is for businesses closed July 4-10 inside the FBI’s investigation zone. Applications, which can be found here, are being accepted through Aug. 19.
“We all know the importance of retailers, restaurants and service businesses to the vitality of the city,” said Julie Logan, the city’s finance director, who introduced the program to the council. “And the July 4 incident has created unprecedented hardship for these businesses, especially on the heels of the pandemic, from which these businesses are only just now recovering.”
The purpose of the program, Logan explained, is to offset a portion of the lost revenue from the time period the businesses were forced to remain closed. Logan said the City estimates each eligible business could receive a portion of the program’s financial allotment.
Eligibility requires businesses to be located inside the July 4-10 incident zone, which was bordered by Green Bay Road to the west, Laurel Avenue on the south, Elm Place on the north and the Metra train tracks to the east
To fund the program, the City will pull dollars from multiple sources. It plans to use $275,000 in unused federal aid provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, while the other $224,500 will come from City reserves.
The program will pay up to 75 percent of lost revenue to restaurants and 50 percent to retailers, as well as service providers, which were originally slated to receive 25 percent but were successfully championed by multiple council members.
To receive funding, businesses must agree to pay employees for work scheduled from July 4-10 and the lost funds must not be also covered through other means, such as insurance, donations or other grants.
Logan said that when the program concludes the City can consider its options, including another round of grant funding. Mayor Nancy Rotering added that the City is also pursuing additional funding relief for its business community through federal, state and local grant programs.
The City Council meeting Monday was Highland Park’s first since the mass shooting during its Independence Day parade on July 4.
After the council acted on standard business to start the meeting, Rotering spoke on the tragedy before leading the chambers in a moment of silence in honor of the seven victims of the attack.
“This shooting may have attacked our most basic and collective sense of humanity, but it will not define us,” she said. “Our coming together in the wake of this vicious attack, our outpouring of support for one another and our heeding the call to action will make a tangible difference and speak volumes about each of us and our community now and for years to come.”
Listen to Rotering’s full statement below:
Rotering then introduced City Manager Ghida Neukirch, who gave an overview of the City’s emergency response and thanked a number of City officials and community partners for their efforts.
“As a city, we want to express our appreciation to our community,” Neukirch said. “In the last three weeks, this community has truly shown the best of Highland Park, and I know I speak for our entire City team when I say we are all so fortunate to live in this community that is so generous, supportive and caring.”
See below to listen to Neukirch’s response overview and statement:
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319