Chamber Members:

We hope that everyone and your organizations are doing well.  It has been quite an interesting three months during this pandemic. As we move towards phase 4, please let us know what topics and issues are of interest to you and how we can best be of assistance. Good news today before we get job numbers tomorrow – May retail sales rose 18%, much ahead of predictions! Plus, major announcement for over $900 million in Illinois funds to be released.

Governor Pritzker Announces $900 Million Package of Equity-Driven Community and Business Grant Programs

Press release is below to outline the five programs announced by Governor Pritzker.

Chicago — Today, Governor JB Pritzker joined members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucuses of the state legislature and small business owners to announce a package of state grant programs to support communities and businesses impacted by the pandemic and recent civil unrest.

The package includes more than $900 million across more than ten programs and four state agencies to help working families and small businesses who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19’s economic impacts, which was compounded by recent property damage and civil unrest.

“We are in a moment that requires a historic effort to mitigate this virus’s devastating effects on the health and livelihoods of the residents of this state,” said Governor Pritzker. “We must do so in a way that prioritizes those who were hurting long before we’d ever heard of COVID-19 – to be there for people who are in need, people who are falling through the cracks, people who never expected themselves to need a helping hand from anyone else – but now they do. With assistance from the federal CARES Act and in partnership with the General Assembly, including from the Black Caucus, Latino Caucus, and Asian Caucus, my administration has put together a support package of over 900 million dollars to lift up small businesses, working families and Black and Brown communities who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19’s financial impacts. I’m deeply proud to lead a state government so committed to being there for the people we serve.”

The economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted residents across Illinois but has disproportionately affected households with limited resources who are least able to weather financial hardship. Businesses across every industry sector have faced significant economic strain.

To ensure families and businesses receive ongoing support to maintain their livelihoods, the new package of grant programs operate with equity requirements, ensuring that disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) receive their fair share of support.


The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is launching a $150 million program with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) is expected to reach approximately 30,000 renters who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The program will launch in August 2020 and run through the end of the year. Governor Pritzker will extend the ongoing residential eviction ban through July 31 to provide a smooth transition into the assistance program.

To address housing instability due to COVID-19, renters who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be prioritized in the grants process. Eligible tenants must already carry an unpaid rent balance from March through present day and certify that the reason they were unable to pay rent was due to a COVID-19 related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to a property owner or landlord on behalf of the tenant and as a condition of accepting the assistance, landlords must agree not to evict the tenant for the duration of the ERA. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.


IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000 to provide support with mortgage payments. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) is expected to assist approximately 10,000 eligible homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage. The program is also expected to launch in August 2020 and provide assistance through the end of the year.

Building upon efforts to mitigate housing instability, homeowners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will also be prioritized in the grants process. Homeowners’ income prior to the pandemic cannot exceed 120% of the area median income (AMI). Therefore, only homeowners with mortgage arrearages, or in forbearance, on or after March 2020 through present day may be eligible to apply. Eligible homeowners must be able to certify that the reason they could not pay their mortgage in full was due to a COVID-19-related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to the mortgagor’s loan servicer on behalf of the homeowner. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.


The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will launch the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July. The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 of which has been set aside for childcare providers, and is funded by the CARES Act.

In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in DIAs. Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount, since March and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure. Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020. An emphasis will also be placed on those businesses that are located in areas that have experienced recent property damage due to civil unrest, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Specifically, the program includes support for:

  • Businesses in DIAs – $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each
    • Bars and Restaurants – $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing at least 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each
    • Barbershops and Salons – $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each
    • Gyms and Fitness Centers – $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each

DCEO will make the application for BIG available on Monday, June 22.


The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s new economic recovery program will provide $25 million to support Illinois businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest during the recent protests and demonstrations on or after May 25, 2020.

The Distressed Capital Program will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.

The program will prioritize small businesses, women and minority-owned businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, businesses that have a high community impact – such as grocery stores – and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment.

The Rebuild Distressed Communities NOFO will solicit applications from regional and local organizations that will perform outreach, coordinate local qualified vendors, and provide funds to cover the cost of repairs and building improvements for businesses in their region. The Distressed Capital Program also includes provisions to ensure BEP-certified contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, are the first in line to do the repair work.

DCEO will invite applications for the Distressed Capital Program with a NOFO made available on Monday, June 22.


The Department of Human Services (IDHS) will provide $32.5 million in an effort to immediately mitigate poverty in Illinois and respond to the needs of hard-hit communities by COVID-19 and by the civil unrest. The program will support more than 73,000 people across the state by building upon contracts and services to target communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The actions will begin in June and extend through the summer.

Specifically, the IDHS strategies will provide:

  • Unemployed Adults – Stipends of up to $4 million to help rebuild businesses
    • Summer Youth Providers – More than $6 million to empower and engage youth and help rebuild communities
    • Foods Banks – $2 million to expand the capacity to feed hungry families in the hardest hit areas
    • Illinois Black and Brown Farmers – $1 million to increase the availability of fresh food and produce
    • Mental Health Services – $2 million to help meet the increased demand for crisis services and better serve diverse communities
    • Community-Based Organizations – $5 million to provide small grants for healing circles, restorative justice circles, and other healing activities
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – One-time $500 payment to help ensure food security, totaling $11.5 million

Additionally, the Department on Aging will expand the Emergency Senior Services Funds by providing up to $5 million to support senior residents in need of meals, groceries, medicine, and medical care. The funding will assist seniors who may not have been able to access necessary supplies due to damages to physical locations in their communities. The department will utilize the statewide case coordinator units (CCUs) throughout the Aging network to take referrals from all Aging providers for services.

We will be seeking more information on these programs and share out next steps to apply.

PPP Forgiveness Form Changes

The US Treasury and SBA announced that the paperwork needed to fill out for PPP forgiveness has been reduced. Feedback from borrowers has been that the process was too complicated and lengthy. This change means that a new “EZ” form will be available with only three pages for those who are self-employed or have zero employees and those who did not reduce salaries by more than 25 percent. To use the form, businesses must also certify that they did not cut employees’ hours or were unable to operate at pre-coronavirus levels because of health mandates. This new form will have less calculations and not as much required documentation as compared to the full application. Ultimately, all borrowers should talk with their lending institution before beginning the paperwork process.

Here is the link to the EZ form (it is also attached to this email as a PDF):

The SBA and US Treasury also released a reduced form of the regular forgiveness application and is now down to five pages in total, down from the original eleven pages. Here is the link (it is also attached to the email as a PDF):

US Chamber Guide to PPP Forgiveness

The US Chamber of Commerce has released a guide to assist in the process of loan forgiveness. Now that the forms have been reduced, you can use this guide to get through the process. It reviews the recently approved changes as well the allows more flexibility to employers such as the 24 week extension, 60% payroll amount, December 31 deadline to bring back employees, and a five year loan term for those that have received funds after June 4th. This program, as you can see from the paragraph above and past updates, is continuously evolving. We’ll share updates as we come across new information.

Here is the link to the guide (it is also attached to the email as a PDF):

July 1st Changes in Illinois

In addition to the increase in minimum wage on July 1st to $10 an hour, drivers in the state will see the first annual gas tax bump on the state portion of purchases. Back in 2019 a bill was approved to double the state portion of the gas tax from 19 cents to 38 cents. This was to help with the funding of the Illinois capital plan. In addition to the immediate doubling of the tax, the bill also put in place a yearly hike on July 1 of each year. This hike is to be equal to the rate of inflation, but not to exceed 1 cent. With that said, the 2020 increase will be 0.7 cents and will therefore take the state tax portion from 38 cents to 38.7 cents per gallon.

Ballot by Mail Bill Signed by Governor

Governor Pritzker made the temporary process to send up to three notices to request a mail-in ballot law yesterday by adding his signature. The new law, which will only apply through this November election, directs a notice to nearly 5 million voters that participated during the last three years. A resident who fills out the form will then receive a ballot through the mail at the appropriate time.

Contact Tracing

The goal of reaching 98% of those exposed to the coronavirus has been quite a challenge. Reports are that the efforts of those that have been sent out to communicate with those exposed are being ignored. People do not seem to be answering their phones and/or returning messages left. Michigan has reported that their tracers are getting through only 60% of the time and in Louisiana the success rate is 50%. This is likely a product of society today just not answering the phone when they see an unfamiliar number pop up.

Infrastructure Talks Again

We’ve seen this a number of times before and the topic is back up for discussion. President Trump is again looking to push a $1 trillion proposal to boost the economy. There is no arguing that building roads and highways, bridges, and ports add new jobs. Many economists argue that infrastructure spending has proved to be a jobs multiplier (each $100 billion in infrastructure spending has been estimated to boost job growth by roughly 1 million full-time positions), so the politically appealing concept never dies.

Getting something done though before the election is still unlikely. What is important is to see that a surface transportation bill is passed to extend funding for five years. We covered this bill back on June 3rd, reporting that Illinois would see a little over $10 billion for projects. Today, the House Transportation Committee was scheduled for H.R. 2 (INVEST in America) markups.

Finally, don’t forget that tomorrow is our next Virtual Conference. Join us at 1:00 as we present Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace…in the World with Troy Cicero of MultiultuReal Communications. The session will focus on:

  • Understanding Diversity and Inclusion and the urgency of now
  • Prepare for paradigm shifts
  • Gain broad perspective for greater workplace effectiveness

Here is the link to register:

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

815.727.5371 main

815.727.5373 direct


Have you heard the Chamber is going paperless? Since you are seeing this email then you’re on our mail list, but your co-workers may not be. Check in to make sure everyone is being reached that should be as we move forward to a paperless system. Contact us by phone or you can email us to verify representatives.