Chamber Members:

Happy Monday as we start the last week in September and move into October. Make sure you’ve got your applications in today for the Will County Small Business Assistance Grant as it closes out. They have plenty of funds remaining with a reported ability to add up to 500 more organizations. Also, this Wednesday is the deadline for the City Center SSA Emergency Grant for those in downtown Joliet. Don’t miss out on these opportunities. Finally, in addition to information on these programs, we have a reminder still about the Business Interruption Grant. Added today is information about two webinars scheduled for this Wednesday.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Start of the Week Update on Federal Relief
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about the status of her COVID relief talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “STATE OF THE UNION”:

TAPPER: “What is the status of your negotiations with Mnuchin? And, theoretically, would you be willing now to go below $2.2 trillion in order to get a deal? And if you don’t get a deal, will you offer that as legislation?”

PELOSI: “This — look, I have been willing to come below $3.4 trillion. We have come all the way down. So, I don’t know why the press decides that it’s equivalent for me to come down further, while they’re not going up any further.

“So, we are having our conversations. And when I have a conversation with the administration, it is in good faith. I trust Secretary Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution. And I believe we can come to an agreement.

“However, at some point, the public is going to have to see why 2.2 or now 2.4, perhaps, trillion dollars is necessary, because — because the president’s denial of the virus and just resistance to doing anything to crush it has made matters worse in so many ways for restaurants, for small stages around the country, for, again, more money needed for PPP, more money for the airlines and the rest. So, we may need more money than that. And we will reveal what that is in a short period of time.”

TAPPER: “And if you don’t get a deal, you will offer it as legislation, as a lot of your members… “PELOSI: “That is definitely a possibility.” TAPPER: “Definitely a possibility.”

PELOSI: “But I’m hoping for a deal. I’d rather have a deal which puts money in people’s pockets than to have a rhetorical argument. But if they do not want to go to that place, if they’re not going to meet the needs of the American people, if they’re not ready to do what is necessary to crush, to crush the virus, to honor our heroes, our health care workers, our teachers, our transportation, sanitation, first responders, police and fire, if they don’t want to recognize that these people are risking their lives to save lives, and now they will lose their jobs, to the tune of millions of people … and then go on unemployment insurance, is that smart? I don’t think so.”

Chicago Capacity Increases
Chicago’s bars, restaurants and gyms can welcome more customers beginning this week
City officials are increasing indoor capacity to 40 percent, saying COVID numbers are trending in the right direction.

Governor Announces Grants to Health Centers
Federally Qualified Health Centers in Illinois and other health facilities that have been on the front lines in the state’s battle against COVID-19 are in line to receive $140 million in grants to help them maintain operations.

Governor Pritzker made that announcement Friday during a news conference at one such clinic, the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHCs, have accounted for a large part of the state’s COVID-19 testing program where tests are available free of charge, regardless of a person’s ability to pay or citizenship status.

In addition to FQHCs, Pritzker said grants will also go to safety-net hospitals and long-term care facilities. In addition, he said, the state plans to launch a web portal next week to allow smaller health care providers to apply for funding. Funding for the grants comes from aid the state has received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, which Congress passed in March.

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.

Upcoming webinars:

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, here is an article about 3 Promising Industries for Starting a Business Right Now.
Covid-19 is expected to drive fast growth in niche industries that aim to make pandemic life easier.

Entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to start new companies in a wide variety of industries during the Covid-19 pandemic. While not all of these ventures will be successful, businesses that help alleviate some of the new challenges created by the pandemic are poised for long-term growth. Here are three industries that hold promising opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses.

1. Contactless Tech
One of the most significant business opportunities is directly related to one of the most widespread problems of the Covid-19 era: the risk of virus transmission in shared spaces such as retail stores. Many grocery stores and other businesses had already upgraded their point-of-sale systems to allow customers to pay using a smartphone or contactless card before the pandemic. And there’s been more interest this year in “cashier less” systems like those used at Amazon Go stores, says Laura Kennedy, senior lead retail analyst at research firm CB Insights.

Companies are also developing more self-service options, such as Vengo Labs’s “smart” vending machines and Valyant AI’s voice-enabled kiosks, to let customers order everything from salads to cosmetics samples with minimal contact. While there was plenty of hype around these technologies before, Kennedy says, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends. And retailers will continue to embrace ways to speed up transactions and provide shoppers with more ways to buy.

2. Telehealth
Already a growing industry, telehealth quickly emerged as a practical alternative to non-essential doctor’s appointments after the pandemic led to new rules around in-person visits. Even after a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, people who used telehealth services will likely keep using them for the sake of convenience.

During just a six-week period between February and April, startups in the space raised $190 million. Revenue for companies in the $3.2 billion telehealth industry is expected to grow 8.3 percent per year during each of the next five years according to an August 2020 report by market research company IBISWorld. The industry includes virtual primary care, teletherapy, health insurance tech, pharmacy services, home testing kits, and devices and apps for remote patient monitoring. While companies in the industry must comply with strict regulations regarding patient privacy and medical device approval, experts predict telehealth will become standard practice for many providers.

3. Education Tech
The pandemic forced schools to digitize fast, and online learning will likely remain a core component of education even after in-person classes resume, according to a September report by CB Insights. Revenue for ed-tech companies also increased by more than 300 percent on average between March and July, according to a survey by software-development company Rootstrap. These companies include management platforms where teachers can plan lessons and track students’ progress, online tutoring services, supplemental tools like math games, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) for higher education.

Outschool, which offers online courses for kids three to 18, signed up 37,000 new students in the last two weeks of March alone, according to the company. Still, there are downsides that could hinder the adoption of new technologies, such as privacy concerns, high costs for already cash-strapped school districts, and accessibility: Students can’t learn online if they don’t have personal devices and a steady internet connection. But with the virtual school year off to a rocky start in many areas, there will likely be continued demand for more reliable solutions.

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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