Chamber Members:

Hopefully, everyone is safe from the storm yesterday. Two storms like that during this pandemic certainly have not made things any better. Please reach out if you need any assistance. Today’s update will be a combination of what was to go out last night and new updates from today. No worries though as it isn’t too lengthy.

Executive Orders from the President

Over the weekend, President Trump signed executive orders to help with coronavirus relief as the negotiations on Capitol Hill are stalled. The orders will surely be contested legally as questions immediately arose with the challenge that the President lacks the authority to spend taxpayer dollars without the approval of congress.

The executive orders are as follows:

  • Extends the expired unemployment benefit but lowers the additional payout from $600 a week to $400.
    • States will cover $100 / 25% of the cost
    • Many Governors are concerned with finances and reportedly will not sign on
    • $44 billion would be set aside to cover this from previous approved FEMA disaster aid meant to help states with tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires
    • The aid is supposed to last through December 6 or whenever the fund is depleted
    • Estimates show that the amount of funding would likely last only 5 weeks based on the 30 million unemployed right now
  • Directs the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of employee-side Social Security payroll taxes through the end of 2020 for Americans earning less than about $104,000 annually or $4,000 every two weeks.
    • Employees would as of right now need to repay the federal government unless there is an act of congress to do otherwise
    • So, this basically works as an interest free loan that would need to be repaid at some point
    • The President remarked that he may want to extend the period and terminate the tax eventually, but that would need congressional approval
    • Employers would still be responsible for their portion
  • Defer student loan payments through the end of the year
    • Temporary cancels interest payments
    • Principal payments are due 12/31
  • Minimizes evictions
    • Not a ban on evictions, rather the order calls on Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Redfield to “consider” whether a ban is warranted.
    • No funds have been provided, rather a directive to see if funds could be provided for aid

Tell Congress to Pass COVID Liability Protections Now

As Congress closes in on the next Coronavirus legislative relief package, one of the most important remaining debates is over lawsuit protections.  The business community, universities and local school boards across the country have united to call for timely, temporary, and targeted liability protections for those that work to follow public health guidelines.

They need assurances that if they do the right thing, they won’t face more financial hardships from unwarranted lawsuits. Liability protection is the key to reignite the American economy, get people back to work, protect those already back at work, and get students back to school.

These provisions will allow organizations of all types and sizes to operate and aid our nation’s recovery. Specifically, the safe harbor should apply to businesses; educational institutions; non-profit organizations; health care providers on the front lines; and manufacturers making PPE, hand sanitizer, and other needed materials.

We are simply asking for temporary ‘safe harbor’ protections to give employers some degree of assurance that if they’re working to follow public health guidelines, they won’t face further financial hardships through unwarranted lawsuits. But those who engage in gross negligence or willful misconduct should be held accountable.

Act now and tell Congress to pass liability protections and get people back to work, back to school and on with their lives. Click here to send a message to your elected officials:

“P4” Discussion Updates

As you know, we’ve been updating about the ongoing talks to extend or rewrite the PPP loans. As these discussions progress, we will be advocating that the final version reflects more of the House’s HEROES Act than what has been put forward by the HEALS Act. Allowing only companies that have a revenue decline greater that 50% excludes way too many companies that are in dire need. The push will be to reduce closer to 25%.

Another item that has been frustrating is the lack of direction on the original PPP forgiveness. Numerous businesses are waiting for the final rules and are beginning to panic that they’ve missed out on the process. Rest assured, this has just been a big waiting game. Most banks have been hesitant to submit based on the ongoing discussions and the potential for a more streamlined process for the forgiveness.

Currently, the HEALS Act, proposed by Republican senators, would allow borrowers with loans less than $2 million to apply for forgiveness without having to submit paperwork showing how the money was spent. Borrowers would simply be required to “certify” they spent the PPP funds on expenses deemed eligible under the program. Small business owners with loans for less than $150,000 would only have to certify they spent the money on eligible expenses. Those with between $150,000 and $2 million would have their application forwarded to the SBA, potentially for review or audit.

All businesses with PPP loans would still have to retain receipts and documentation for how the money was spent, he said. Businesses need to maintain the documentation for three years.

With all of this said, a recent poll conducted shows some concerning feedback. The results go to show how important it is for the negotiating team on Capitol Hill to act quickly.

  • 65% of businesses are concerned that they’ll have to close (again) during a 2nd COVID wave
  • Almost 50% of companies that have let employees go in some form believe they will not be able to hire them all back for at least 3 to 12 months
  • 25% of businesses are fearful they will not last three months without aid
  • 20% believe they will not last six months without aid
  • 15% have or considered filing for bankruptcy
  • 55% struggle with rent or mortgage payments

Additional Funding Opportunities

Since the PPP application period has ended, companies are left asking what is available to help us out.  The SBA’s EIDL loan remains although the Advance grant has ended. We will hear tomorrow on our conference call about the Main Street Lending program. A little more about that is below as well as further down about the soon to open Will County program. We also await information and the opening of the state Business Interruption Grant (BIG).

7(a) Loan Program

The PPP was largely modeled on the SBA’s 7(a) program, the agency’s flagship working capital loan program. While many of the Cares Act changes made to the 7(a) program ended with the PPP–such as eliminating the provision that says businesses must personally guarantee or provide collateral–at least one benefit remains: If you apply for, and close, an SBA loan before September 27, your first six months of payments will be forgiven entirely.

It is worth noting that 7(a) loans have fees and higher interest rates–fixed rates are capped at 6 percent–than what the PPP provides. Also, while lenders don’t require collateral for loans up to $25,000, for amounts in excess of $350,000 the SBA traditionally requires the lender to collateralize the loan to the maximum value possible–and that may include requiring a person secure his or her loan with personal assets.

Main Street Lending Program

Last week, Fed chairman Jerome H. Powell announced that the central bank would extend through December 31 its crisis-era lending facilities, including the Main Street Lending Program, a low-interest loan offering aimed at companies with up to $5 billion in annual revenue or fewer than 15,000 employees. The program was scheduled to expire on September 30.

The Fed has made several key improvements to Main Street loans since first introduced, which may make them more palatable for small businesses. The minimum loan amount dropped to $250,000, for instance, and the loan repayment term extended from four to five years. Interest rates are variable, and equal to Libor plus 300 basis points, currently about 3 percent.

The Fed program is expected to run directly through federally insured depository institutions, including banks, savings associations, and credit unions, and the Fed says it will support up to $600 billion in new loans. Business owners who have received PPP loans are permitted to apply, but any business that applies must demonstrate that it was in good order before the Covid-19 crisis.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

If you haven’t received PPP loans and you either had to shut down or have suffered a significant loss in gross receipts as a result of the pandemic, you can still apply the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The refundable tax credit is now equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in annual wages for each eligible employee. That includes the employer portion of health benefits.

Take Action to Save Nonprofits

Local and state chambers of commerce, industry associations and tourism groups –  all nonprofits, all small employers – are currently prohibited from accessing emergency assistance programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) due to a unique tax code classification known as 501(c)6 – “C6” for short.

These organizations are a vital support network for local businesses and communities across the country. With live events, tourism, and other key revenue streams on hold, they need emergency assistance to survive, so that they can bring back jobs and help their local economies and communities recover.

Local and state chambers and destination marketing organizations are the protectors and promoters of the many businesses that make up the fabric of Main Streets and communities across our nation. We cannot allow these organizations to collapse.

Now is the time to act. Congress must allow all C6 organizations to apply for PPP loans and access much-needed support in the next relief package.

Click here to contact your elected officials:

Will County CARES Act Funding Update

The County received a little over $120 million as part of the passed CARES Act. Since receiving the money, the county board has created the Ad-Hoc Committee, held a number of meetings designed to figure out how to disseminate the money, created a website (, and are preparing to release details on how apply for the grants.

Here are the basics that are known as of today –

Payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund can only be used to cover expenses that:

  1. are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  2. were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, for the State or government
  3. were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020

It looks like the likely opening date for business applications will be on the 24th. More details and confirmation are to follow. We do know that about $24 million will be available to Will County businesses and it sounds like it will those with fewer than 25 employees and $2.5 million in annual revenues. The funds will be a maximum of $15,000 in a grant form.

Finally, tomorrow will be our Government Affairs Coffee Series as part of our virtual conference series. The topic will be a “Federal Update from Congressman Bill Foster.” We also have a late addition to the program. Jason Keller, Community and Economic Development Senior Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will join to talk about the Main Street Lending Program.

This will take place tomorrow, August 12th at 11:00 AM. You can register here to participate:

During the government affairs coffee series, we plan to discuss the next federal funding phase including the following topics:

  • Unemployment Insurance
  • PPP Round 2/”P4″
  • Liability Protection
  • Individual Stimulus Payment
  • Rent & Mortgage Assistance
  • State & Municipality Funding
  • Education & Testing Funding

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