McHenry County creates task force focused on reopening local economy

Task force to focus on smooth, safe transition once COVID-19 shutdowns allow

McHenry County has created a new, specialized task force designed to ensure a safe, smooth and successful transition in reopening the local economy once COVID-19 containment measures allow for such measures to be taken.

Aptly named “Resume McHenry County,” the task force will rely on the counsel of longtime community leaders to determine the role of county government, businesses and residents in aiding the transition, according to a news release from McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks.

“Resume McHenry County is a collaborative effort to discuss the best way to get businesses back on their feet while protecting employees and customers from the pandemic,” Franks said in the release.

Local businesses have been severely affected by COVID-19 shutdowns. Many have been forced to shut their doors or make drastic changes to their operations, including laying off or furloughing employees, according to the release.

After learning Thursday that Gov. JB Pritzker will extend the state’s stay-at-home order through May 30, the county’s task force also plans to make suggestions and requests to the state on how to protect local businesses.

The group cannot and will not, however, try to override the governor’s stay-at-home order or reopen businesses deemed nonessential, according to the release.

The task force is made up of local leaders in a variety of sectors, including a county epidemiologist, a representative from Northwestern Medicine and the president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp., Jim McConoughey.

Other members include Steven Slack, president and CEO of Home State Bank; Kay Rial Bates, president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce; and John Rung, CEO of Shaw Media.

“I want to thank the community leaders who have stepped up and graciously volunteered their time to help brainstorm ways to restart McHenry County’s economic engine, depending on what form the end of the stay-at-home order takes,” Franks said.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally also has joined the Resume McHenry County task force.

The group’s first meeting is set for 11 a.m. Thursday and will be held virtually.

“In the meantime, I implore McHenry County’s business owners to pursue every federal, state and county resource that’s been made available to help them in this time of crisis,” Franks said.

Federal loans for small businesses still are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additionally, McHenry County announced Wednesday that it will be providing loans of $5,000 to businesses with five or fewer employees through its Small Business Stabilization Grant Program.