Chamber Members:

We hope you have enjoyed a sunny day so far for Wednesday. The Senate finally came up with final terms early this morning. As of 4 pm it seems as if there is a last minute hold-up though centered around language concerning unemployment benefits. We’ll see when this makes it to a vote. Here is what we know to be expected in the bipartisan deal:

  1. $150 billion for a state and local fund
  2. $130 billion for hospitals, and extend unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits if they are furloughed or lose their job due to the coronavirus crisis. It would also apply to freelancers and gig workers, such as Uber drivers and others who do not have regular full- or part-time employment.
  3. direct payments to qualified individuals and families with checks of up to $1,200 and $2,400, based on income. $500 per child
  4. $367 billion in federally guaranteed loans for small businesses but only for those that keep their payrolls steady through the crisis. Small businesses that pledge to keep their workers would also receive cash-flow assistance structured as federally guaranteed loans. If the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis, those loans would be forgiven.
  5. $500 billion for loans to larger industries

The deal hammered out by negotiators provides $30 billion in emergency education funding, $25 billion in emergency transit funding and creates an employee retention tax credit to incentivize businesses to keep workers on payroll during the crisis. It will also provide $25 billion in direct financial aid to struggling airlines and $4 billion for air cargo carriers, two industries that have taken a big hit in the economic downturn.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).   The guidance addresses critical questions such as:

  • How does an employer count its number of employees to determine coverage?
  • How can small businesses obtain an exemption?
  • How does an employer count hours for part-time employees?
  • How does an employer calculate wages employees are entitled to under the FFCRA?

The initial WHD guidance is available in three-parts:

Governor Pritzker has announced creation of a $60 million small-business loan fund that will offer low-interest financing for companies with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenues. Here are the highlights:

Emergency Small Business Grants and Loans Assistance

Under the leadership of Governor JB Pritzker, DCEO is working with partners to launch emergency assistance programs for Illinois small businesses.  These initiatives include:

Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, DCEO is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job training, tourism promotion, and other purposes.  Grant funds are available to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000.  Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

DCEO and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are establishing the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses low interest loans of up to $50,000.

Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply.  Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term.

Click here to view more information with helpful questions and answers.

Attached please find the Illinois Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 “Guidelines for Large Businesses” which were released today. These guidelines are for employers in order to protect employees’ health and ensure the continuation of essential businesses.

Will County, City of Joliet and the Continuum of Care (CoC) join the United Way of Will County to assist the homeless during the COVID-19 crisis

On Monday, the Continuum of Care, a network of agencies and service providers working to end homelessness, released the Emergency Housing Assistance Plan to provide safe shelter for the homeless and those at risk of losing shelter.

Local shelters are at capacity and some have had to rehouse their clients due to limited staffing and the inability to maintain proper sanitization standards. For the health and safety of their clients and staff, shelters such as Daybreak Center shelter, are transitioning clients to hotels. Similar moves are being made across the U.S. and worldwide as the homeless are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the lack of stable shelter, lack of access to proper hygiene and medical care and basic food supplies.

With the help of local hotels, the Plan can support up to 50 hotel units at this time. Shelter can be provided for up to three weeks in accordance with the current shelter-in-place order. It is estimated that about $100,000 is needed at this time to cover the costs of these hotel rooms. Agencies have secured about half of what is needed by reallocating existing state and federal resources (CDBG/ESG) to this effort. Remaining funds are being solicited through private and corporate funds to make this a public/private effort.

The CoC response system is as follows:
• CoC’s Lead Agency is Will County Center for Community Concerns which will coordinate the effort and manage additional state resources being made available through Department of Human Services and federal emergency response funds to sustain the effort.
• MorningStar Mission shelter will act as the entry point for assistance. MorningStar will screen shelter seekers for COVID-19 symptoms and collect necessary data and then refer the client to a designated hotel location.
• City of Joliet Police Department will transport MorningStar referrals to partnering hotels.
• Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County will coordinate case management needs with other CoC service agencies.
• CoC Leadership Committee Homeless Advocate will provide peer mentorship to those housed through this initiative.
• Local business owner, Jeff Eberhard, and founder of the Guardian Group will coordinate the support services needed for those housed through this effort (food, diapers and personal hygiene supplies) and will be the drop off location for donations at 313 S Larkin Ave, Joliet, IL 60436.
• Northern Illinois Food Bank has ordered 50 Shelf Stable food boxes to be delivered to sheltered homeless at these hotel.
• United Way of Will County has pledged financial support and will assist in soliciting private and corporate donations to a COVID-19 Response Fund that can be used for housing. Donations can be made at
• Local agencies in need of volunteers and residents looking for volunteer opportunities, are encouraged to join the United Way of Will County Volunteer Center:

For more information about this program, contact the CoC interim Coordinator Sarah Kidwell at phone: 815-722-0722 ext 2227 or email

Pace is offering free rides on all Pace fixed route bus and On Demand services to all medical personnel–including doctors, nurses, EMTs, and paramedics–for the duration of the State’s “stay at home” order. To ride free, medical personnel must present a work ID showing that they are employed at a hospital, doctor’s office, medical facility or local fire department. For the latest information on Pace’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see:

New online trainings for small businesses impacted by coronavirus – Spanish option

All Illinois small businesses can now apply for low-interest disaster loans to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Illinois District Office will host free webinars as long as there is demand covering:

  • Eligibility
  • Use of proceeds
  • Terms
  • Filing requirements
  • Additional small business resources

Click the event date to register.

**Events for Spanish speakers

We are also holding two trainings with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Spanish: Thursday, March 26, 10 a.m.

Bilingual: Friday, March 27, 11 a.m.

More webinars will be announced soon! Watch your email for future events.

The state has now added an online search function for essential workers seeking child care during the COVID-19 crisis: This is in addition to the 888-228-1146 hotline.  (I’ve added this detail to yesterday’s message, below.) Note that this system of child care for essential workers is still being assembled across Illinois, and the process will definitely take time to unfold, experiencing challenges along the way.  We’re already hearing examples of that, and are sharing them with our partners in child care advocacy as well as Illinois DHS contacts.  But it’s encouraging to hear that hundreds of providers already have applied to join this emergency system-in-progress. Much, much further info is available online – not only for parents seeking care, but for providers wishing to reopen as part of that network of care and for qualified volunteers looking to help. Visit

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors


Mike Paone

Vice President

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry

815.727.5371 main

815.727.5373 direct