Chamber Members:

Another end to another week. As we move into fall and the continuance of the pandemic, please make sure you are taking full advantage of grant programs available. We have listed three below and two of them have deadlines next week. More information is staring to come out regarding the fears of owners looking ahead to the fourth quarter and 2021 which has led to reports of federal aid talks picking back up next week. See below for more info.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Quick Follow Up
Following up on our note to make sure you and those around you are counted in the 2020 Census, a federal judge barred the Trump administration from ending the 2020 census a month early, after evidence showed that top Census Bureau officials believed doing so would endanger its accuracy.

New Package from the House?
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed her committee chairs to assemble a scaled-back coronavirus relief package ($2.4 trillion) as a basis for potential talks with the White House, according to Democratic sources. But an agreement still seems out of reach, and the House could vote on the new proposal next week even without GOP support.

The move comes after Pelosi refused, for weeks, to consider passing another relief bill during a lengthy standoff with Republicans and with rising demands from centrist Democrats that the House take more action before the election. Putting the bill on the floor would also be a win for Pelosi’s deputy, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has been pushing the idea for weeks. If that bill makes it to the floor, Covid relief is most likely dead for the time being — it will just be a messaging bill to help Democrats out. If the bill does NOT make it to the floor, then it may signal that Pelosi thinks she could get a deal done and set up a vote on that instead.

House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal confirmed the plan, saying a vote, if it were to happen, would likely occur next week before the chamber leaves for recess. “I think the contours are already there,” Neal told reporters of drafting the smaller package. “I think it’s now about [the] time frame and things like that.”

Republicans still say their upper limit is at $1.3 trillion to $1.5 trillion. So, about a trillion off still from the scaled back amount from Democrats. House Democratic leadership wants to help moderates by giving them a vote, but the left doesn’t want her to go too far to appease them. And, of course, Senate Minority Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats are battling for control of the Senate, and that affects how much they are willing to bend.

Anyone want to wager which side, if any, is going to cave? If your answer is probably no one, then you are in line with the thinking of most people in and around the Capitol.

COVID At-home Tests Available Today
Jewel-Osco’s pharmacy plans to start offering at-home COVID-19 tests, becoming among the first retail pharmacies in Chicago to offer the do-it-yourself testing option.

Patients can buy the tests at the pharmacies, and Jewel-Osco asks that any patients showing symptoms get their tests delivered. The tests will be available at all 179 Jewel-Osco pharmacies in the Chicago area and cost $140 each. Jewel-Osco cannot bill medical insurance plans for them. Patients must fill out an online medical questionnaire and request the test. It requires people to collect their own saliva sample and mail it as soon as possible. People can expect results within 72 hours.

There are about eight different at-home COVID-19 tests available nationally, and they’ve been around since mid-summer. The at-home saliva tests are generally accurate, and people are typically good at collecting their own saliva samples. Home swabbing has been found to be about 80 percent sensitive in detecting COVID compared to tests administered by medical professionals.

But there are caveats. If the at-home test comes back negative but the patient is symptomatic, the recommendation is having a medical professional administer a deep nasal swab, which has been crowned the gold standard of COVID testing.

Fed Releases Changes to Small Business Lending Program
The Federal Reserve offered changes to its Main Street Lending Program, but borrowers are still likely to balk. With stimulus negotiations having hit a wall, business owners and trade groups are increasingly shining a spotlight on the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program, a loan offering for small and midsize businesses that were in good financial standing prior to the pandemic. And the added scrutiny is revealing more of its apparent inadequacies.

Formally announced on April 9 and enacted on June 15, the Fed’s Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) was expected to support up to $600 billion in low-interest loans aimed at companies with as much as $5 billion in annual revenue or fewer than 15,000 employees. To date, just 248 loans worth about $2.4 billion have either been booked or are in the pipeline.

That’s 0.4 percent of the expected $600 billion outlay–and plain unacceptable, say entrepreneurs and representatives of business advocacy groups. What’s more, they say, the latest changes the Fed made to ameliorate the flaws of the program don’t go far enough. The Fed on September 18 announced a series of modest program adjustments, mostly pertaining to dividend payments and other administrative issues. It also adjusted the wording on how banks should weigh the current financial conditions of borrowers. In the updated guidance, banks are now encouraged to make lending decisions based on a borrower’s pre-Covid-19 conditions and post-pandemic prospects. Originally, the guidance stated that banks should follow their normal lending protocols when making Main Street loans, which practically guaranteed that any business experiencing losses during this period would not qualify.

Reminder Again of Existing Grants
Business Interruption Grant Program
Applications for a second round of funding are now being accepted and can be found here:

A total of $220 million will be made available for small businesses of all types in Illinois. Grants will be awarded and funded on a rolling basis until funding is depleted. The grant size will be equivalent to two months of expenses.

Will County Small Business Assistance
Will County has earmarked more than $24 million for a Small Business Assistance Grant Program to provide financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 so they can maintain operations. Selected businesses may receive up to $15,000 in grant assistance.

Applications are open up until September 28 and along with more info can be found here:

Joliet City Center Special Service Area Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant Guidelines PHASE II 
The Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant is intended to provide financial relief from the COVID-19 pandemic for City Center businesses. This grant provides funding directly to retailers or restaurants who are renting or leasing space within the Special Service Area. This grant is not intended for property owners. The use of funds is flexible in nature and is intended to assist businesses to pay employees or other operating expenses. The grant applicant shall identify specific uses for the money. Phase II grants are open to businesses that received a Phase I grant.

Application period ends September 30. More information and a downloadable application can be found here:

Finally, a reminder that entries are now being accepted for the 2020 BBB Torch Awards for Business Marketplace Trust. Three new categories have been added for this year. You can enter your business to win of the most powerful brand and reputation building awards that a company can receive. Entries are now being accepted for the Torch Awards from the Better Business Bureau.

The Torch Awards are the highest honor the BBB can award to a business owner. Open to all businesses of excellence in the Chicagoland region. These prestigious awards are presented annually to businesses demonstrating excellence in the marketplace and high ethical standards with their customers, employees, and community.

Three new categories have been added to honor women and minority owned businesses as well as business associations. The 2020 deadline to enter is October 9th. Full details are available at

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