It is painful to see hard-working individuals, with outstanding track records at their jobs, downsized because of the recession and unable to procure new employment. The SBAC Unemployment Committee, led by Bryan McDonald of Alper Services, has taken this issue on and is collaborating with The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to push forward authorization and implementation of the Self-Employment Assistant Program (SEAP). The program allows qualified individuals to start a small business while receiving unemployment benefits.
Currently IDES is working with the federal government to clarify guideline requirements to obtain funding for the program. Upon implementation, Illinois will start contacting those eligible persons currently receiving unemployment benefits in July and August of this year about their qualification for the program. Qualified participants must be part of the program by Labor Day in order for the program to eligible for funding. IDES has also joined forces with the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (IDEO) to utilize their small business development centers to provide educational services to SEAP participants.
Earlier this year, the SBAC supported state legislation sponsored by Representative Carol Sente authorizing SEAP and began educating IDES officials about the positive economic impact of the program and its success in other states. Since the bill was introduced, President Obama signed a federal unemployment law authorizing states to participate in SEAP with implementation of state agency rules and approval by the U.S. Department of Labor, making the state legislation unnecessary.