Chamber Members:

We have been bringing you a weekly recap on Friday via video on our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn accounts, but today felt that there was just too much information to share now rather than wait for Monday. To kick things off, we thank Illinois State Representative Mark Batinick for joining us today on our Virtual Conference. You can view the recording here if you weren’t able to join us:

City of Joliet Announcement
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk announced today at his press conference that the City has sent a request to Governor Pritzker to ask for allowance for restaurants to open outdoor seating. We have the “FORWARD TOGETHER – A Guide to Reopen Joliet Restaurants” document attached to this email for your review.

CDC Guidelines Released
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines yesterday to help schools and businesses decide whether they’re ready to open. The recommendations are like those in a draft that was circulating within the Trump administration in recent weeks. The new guidance is a set of decision trees. These are charts that cover yes-or-no scenarios that are aimed at assessing readiness to reopen. You can view the workplace guidance here. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schoolscamps, child care programs, and mass transit systems.

Retail Report
Retail sales fell 16.4 percent in April from March’s total and 21.6 percent from April 2019 levels. Consumer sales overall make up roughly two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product, and the retail industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

Vote Day?
Earlier this week, as we all know, House Democrats introduced The Heroes Act.  The text of The Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) has been posted on our COVID-19 resources page. The House is expected to vote this afternoon on the $3 trillion relief bill that has no chance of passing in the Senate. The bill is mainly meant to begin negotiations and allow members to vocalize their priorities. It will be interesting to see what items hold up during negotiation and what will not.

A one pager on the legislation is here.
A section-by-section summary is here.

Timing of the passage of the next relief package
The continuing stalemate puts in doubt the original target date of Memorial Day to get a deal done.  Senators say that while they expect to pass something eventually, it probably will not happen between now and next Friday when the holiday recess begins.

We are hearing that the Senate will likely draft and release information on business liability protection next week.

Report on SBA’s PPP lending 
Less than 40 percent of small businesses have received support from the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration’s (SBA) emergency coronavirus lending initiative, according to Census Bureau data released Thursday. While 74.9 percent of respondents to the Census Bureau’s survey of small businesses applied for a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), only 38.1 percent received aid.

To date, the program remains open which may be surprising based on early assumptions as to how long it would last. In reality, situations have changed from the initial release through the second. Now, businesses have not been able to open as early as had hoped and still have employees sitting on the sidelines. A grant that can’t be used predominantly to pay bills and cover other operations has not been as coveted as at the beginning. Another reason may be that owners are still uncertain to several aspects of the program. SBA was supposed to provide final guidance by April 26 and to date we still have not seen that release.

Small Business-Specific Guidance on Reopening
Download this step-by-step guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help your company reopen safely and keep employees and customers healthy and informed as restrictions lift across the country. The playbook includes safety and sanitation guidance, communications advice, and other best practices information.

Sector-Specific Guidance
The pandemic has affected different industries differently — likewise, the reopening process will vary by sector. Here is sector-specific guidance from some of the leading industry associations and government sources:

For restaurants: CDC’s Reopening Decision Tree for Restaurants and Bars and National Restaurant Association’s Reopening Guidance
For retailers: National Retail Federation’s Operation Open Doors
For home service providers: AIHA’s Reopening Guidance for At-Home Service Providers
For construction businesses: AIHA’s Reopening Guidance for Construction Environments
For gyms and fitness facilities: AIHA’s Reopening Guidance for Gyms and Workout Facilities
For office-based businesses: AIHA’s Reopening Guidance for General Office Settings
For hair and nail salons: AIHA’s Reopening Guidance for Hair and Nail Salons
For airlines: CDC’s Interim Guidance for Airlines and Airline Crew
For childcare programs: CDC’s Reopening Decision Tree for Childcare Programs
For camps and youth programs: CDC’s Reopening Decision Tree for Camps and Youth Programs
For schools: CDC’s Reopening Decision Tree for Schools

Illinois Population Decline & Now a Shift?
Researchers are now studying the possibility that a population shift will occur as we move forward in time out of dense urban areas out to rural ones which are also less costly. The Illinois out migration will likely continue as it has over the years, but this new shift will not only happen as a result of the virus and in regard to future virus outbreak, but because of the new investment in bringing broadband service to the outer areas.

New Illinois Lawsuits
The Chair of the Will County Republican party and three businesses have filed a lawsuit alleging losses and layoffs specifically because of having to close their business because of the stay at home order.

Special Session Topics
Here are the official topics that will be focused on during the General Assembly “special session” beginning next Wednesday:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters.
  • The state budget and its implementation.
  • Economic recovery, infrastructure projects, and funding thereof.
  • The explanation, arguments for and against the Progressive Income Tax.
  • Laws of authority scheduled to sunset prior to June 1, 2021.
  • The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections.
  • The hospital assessment program.

Executive Order Compliance Questionnaire
We have learned that the Office of the Illinois Attorney General is asking businesses how they are complying with executive orders requiring employers to mitigate risks presented by COVID-19. The questionnaire asks businesses how they are reducing the number of on-site employees, the nature of the business, and what type of sanitation measures have been put in place. The questionnaire also asks businesses to describe their COVID-19 policies in detail and what type of screening measures are being implemented at the worksite.

The examples provided are only a small portion of the entire questionnaire. The Illinois Chamber does not believe that the Attorney General has the authority to force businesses to comply with this survey. The Illinois Chamber suggests that you contact your business’s legal counsel before responding to the questionnaire.

Finally, we want to share with you the details for our first Virtual Conference next week as we present: Filling the knowledge and skills gap…how JJC can help through a registered apprenticeship program. This session will take place on Wednesday, May 20th at 1:30 PM. You can register here:

Stay well,

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



Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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