Chamber Members:

Thanks to all that joined us today on our Government Affairs Coffee Series talk with Congressman Bill Foster and Jason Keller from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. A lot of good information was shared. We will have another Coffee Series talk in September with former Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger covering the Progressive Income Tax ballot item in November.

Business Interruption Grants (BIG) Announced

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced $46 million in small business grants have been released to 2,655 small businesses located in over 400 individual cities and spread across 78 counties. The grants are the first round of the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program through which the State will award grants to a diversity of businesses, as well as business communities hit hardest by COVID-19 related closures. A substantial portion of the BIG program is dedicated to supporting childcare providers. View the list of grant recipients online here:

To ensure ongoing support for Illinois small businesses, the State of Illinois has planned future rounds of funding. BIG represents the largest state-run economic support program in response to the economic hardship caused by coronavirus.

First round grants range from $10,000-$20,000 and may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including: payroll costs; rent; utilities; and equipment as well as other unexpected costs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, such as PPE, training, and new technology.  Business categories identified in the first round include small businesses in industries that continue to experience economic hardship due to public concerns for health and safety and in areas that sustained setbacks due to property damage and closures as a result of recent civil unrest.

More than 5,000 businesses applied for funding, with grantees selected via random lottery. To ensure reviews were conducted with an objective, equitable lens and to maximize the turnaround time on application reviews, DCEO partnered with several community-based grant administration partners, including Accion, Chicago Urban League, Women’s Business Development Center, The Chicago Community Loan Fund, Somercor and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives.

The initial round of BIG grants will be followed by subsequent rounds, each offering consideration to business sectors facing the most extreme economic hardship because of COVID-19-related closures or diminished operating capacity. Separately, the portion the BIG program set aside for childcare providers is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Childcare providers may apply for these funds until August 14th at this link.

Update from the Hill

With talks dormant, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the full House will not convene again until Sept. 14, adding another week to the month-long August recess

Federal money for state and local governments is a key sticking point to reviving negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package. The White House and congressional Democrats are deeply divided over whether states should get more money and if so, how much.

Before talks collapsed late last week, the two sides were hundreds of billions apart on how much they were willing to put on the table. Democrats want $915 billion, while Republicans are offering $150 billion, the same amount included in the CARES Act from late March. There are no signs the impasse is thawing, underscoring how difficult it will be to clinch an agreement after negotiations went off the tracks.

A Treasury Department report found that through the end of June, state and local governments had spent roughly a quarter of the money previously appropriated by Congress. Although other reports place that number around 70% based on when actual expenditures will occur.

Democrats warn that without a significant influx of new money, state and local governments will have to seriously consider layoffs and cuts to essential services in the middle of a public health crisis and recession. The progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated in early July that state governments would face a total $555 billion budget shortfall between fiscal 2020 and 2022. That figure does not include budget holes impacting city and municipal governments.

JCAR Passes Rule to Enforce Public Health Guidelines and Issue Warnings and Fines on Businesses

Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted along party lines to approve Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) emergency rules proposed by Governor Pritzker that impose a new penalty on businesses that do not comply with mask requirements or public health guidelines. The rules will be enforced by local and state authorities, including local police, health departments, and liquor commissions. Click here to read the rule beginning on page 8:

As a refresher from what we announced at the end of last week, here are the rules:

  1. Written warnings will be issued to businesses and encouraged to comply with public health guidelines.
  2. Businesses that do not comply will be ordered to have some or all of their patrons leave the premises to come into compliance.
  3. Businesses that do not comply could be cited with a Class A misdemeanor and subject to a daily fine of $75 to $2,500.

One of the concerning items on top of the fine on businesses that may be struggling to stay afloat, is that not much was directed towards individuals that refuse to comply with the mask requirements and public health guidelines.  Punishment needs to go both ways and not always towards business, especially those that are trying their best to comply with proper posting, etc.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

IDHA Emergency Rental Assistance Program (Application Period 8/10/20 – 8/21/20)

With applications now available, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) will support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Tenants whose applications are approved will receive one-time grants of $5,000 paid directly to their landlords to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020 and prepay payments through December 2020, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first. The assistance will be in the form of a grant and repayment will not be required. Applications for ERA will be accepted August 10th through August 21st. Due to anticipated high volume, the application window may close early. IHDA will use a third-party entity to select a pool of applications to be reviewed for eligibility. Approximately 30,000 tenants are expected to receive funding. Apply online at:

Tenant Eligibility:

Household income before March 1, 2020 was at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income;

An adult member of the household must have had a loss of income due to the COVID-19 crisis on or after March 1, 2020; and

Household has an unpaid rent balance that began on or after March 1, 2020.

Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program 

IDHA Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (Application Period 8/24/20 – 9/04/20)

Available August 24, 2020, the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) will assist homeowners who have experienced a COVID-19-related loss of income resulting in past due mortgage balances starting March 2020. Approved applicants will receive up to $15,000 paid directly to their mortgage servicer. Assistance will cover the homeowner’s past due or forbearance balance and their regular mortgage payments through December 30, 2020, or until the funding is exhausted, whichever comes first. Payments may include all escrowed first mortgage expenses including property taxes, insurance, and certain fees. The assistance will be in the form of a grant and repayment will not be required. Applications for EMA will be accepted from August 24th through September 4th. Due to anticipated high volume, the application window may close early. IHDA will use a third-party entity to select a pool of applications to be reviewed for eligibility. The program is expected to assist approximately 10,000 households. Apply online at:

Homeowner Eligibility: 

  • Household adjusted gross income from 2019 Tax Return was at or below 120 percent of the Area Median Income;
  • An adult member of the household has had a loss of income due to the COVID-19 crisis on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Homeowner’s mortgage was current as of February 29, 2020;
  • The mortgage is past due or in forbearance.

Finally, thanks for continuing to read these updates. Hopefully, they continue to be of benefit. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas then certainly feel free to email them over. We look forward to keeping you updated on what is going on as we know that you’re all busy trying to do your day to day and that is certainly enough these days.

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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