The City’s Planning and Development Department has been engaged in a number of efforts to promote economic sustainability in our community during and after the issuance of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Much of this work has been done with our countywide economic development partners including the University of Illinois, Parkland College, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC), Visit Champaign County (VCC), the Champaign Center Partnership (CCP) and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. Efforts include the following:
- Working jointly to survey essential businesses operating through the Stay at Home Order on their needs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their employees and working with the Champaign County Public Health District (CUPHD) and WCIA to conduct a cloth mask drive resulting in 4,000 masks being donated. These are being distributed to businesses one per employee.
- Working with CCEDC to host a manufacturers roundtable on May 13, 2020, to answer questions about safe operational practices, purchase of PPE and thermometers, employee wellness checks and more. Representatives of Carle, CUPHD, and the Illinois Manufacturers Association were guest speakers on the call. A working group was formed to develop materials and resources for the next round of business openings.
- Along with a working team including EDC, VCC, the Chamber of Commerce, and United Way, a new website was set up (ChampaignCountySafe.org) to serve as the central site for all resources businesses need during the implementation of the Restore Illinois plan. This includes the “Reopening your Business in the Age of COVID-19 Toolkit”, a PPE vendor lists, materials from the Wear it Don’t Share it campaign (developed under the leadership of the City’s COVID-19 Crisis Communication Team), and the Safe Business Pledge program established to allow businesses to make a commitment to maintaining safe operational practices, and to visually demonstrate that commitment through a certificate they can place in their window.
- Working to provide support to disadvantaged businesses, in particular immigrant and minority businesses by surveying them to determine their needs and developing a new grant program to provide immediate support.
- Developing new rules for restaurants and bars to have the outdoor seating that is now allowed in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan, including expanding the Downtown Champaign Sidewalk Café program, establishing three Picnic Parks in Downtown, and allowing establishments outside of Downtown to use their private parking lots for outdoor seating.