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Glenview wizard receives resilience-boosting county grant


Glenview magician Randy Bernstein couldn’t make COVID-19 go away, but he’s one of dozens of north suburban businesses that recently learned they had received up to $20,000 in grant money from Cook County to “increase resilience in the post-pandemic economy.” ”

“This is truly a magical experience for me,” said Bernstein, who has operated Magic By Randy Inc. in Glenview for more than 20 years.

“I feel very lucky and excited to be able to continue living my life,” he said. “I have friends and other entertainer friends who lost jobs to COVID.”

The 2023 Resource Grants come from Cook County and are part of a “$50 million investment in both urban neighborhoods and suburban communities” in the wake of COVID-19. Small businesses received grants of $10,000 and $20,000 to increase resilience in the post-pandemic economy through the Cook County Small Business Program.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said more than 16,000 applications for funding were reviewed and 3,000 recipients, including Magic By Randy Inc., were selected by lottery. Recipients were notified of their awards in mid-December, and the funds were notified in January. .

“Cook County’s small businesses face uncharted waters in the post-pandemic economy, and this grant provides the stability they need to thrive in 2024 and beyond,” Preckwinkle said in a statement. “Small businesses have shown unparalleled tenacity and resilience in surviving the pandemic, and they are important assets to our community.”

According to county officials, 60% of aid recipients are in suburban Cook County and 60% are in “priority sectors,” including arts and entertainment; child care and social assistance; accommodation, food and tourism; retail sale; and transportation and storage. Forty-five veteran-owned businesses also received grants.

Like many other artists, Bernstein said the pandemic lockdown was “brutal” on his part, and at one point early in COVID-19 his business dropped by 100%.

“I’m sure there are many other companies that were just as impacted by this that didn’t get this grant, which is very exciting to me,” he said. “I really appreciate this.”

Preckwinkle’s office said Cook County used $50 million from a $1 billion pool from the “American Rescue Plan Act,” the economic stimulus bill signed by President Joe Biden in 2021, to fund the 2023 Resource Grants program. The original goal of the program was to distribute $40 million, but received additional funding due to “excessive interest.”

Grant money can be used for operating expenses, including payroll, operating expenses, rent or lease payments, and the purchase of inventory vital to the business, but cannot be used for “capital improvements or personal expenses,” according to information from Cook Country.

“This keeps me looking for new marketing opportunities,” Bernstein said. “I’m sure there are many other companies that are equally affected by this and don’t understand it, so for me this is very exciting. “I really appreciate that.”

Brian L. Cox is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.


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