Chamber Members:

Here we are 15 days away from the November 3rd elections. Did anyone expect the current state of events to be anywhere near what they are today? COVID cases are rising again and so are concerns to go along with such as the economy, employment, and further restrictions. We talk about those further in today’s update.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Will County Small Business Assistance Round 2
Will County has reopened an expanded version of the Small Business Assistance Grant (CARES) Program.  Beginning today, small businesses, if located within Will County; with less than fifty (50) full time employees, and less than $50 million in annual gross revenues are eligible to receive up to $15,000.  Applications in English and Spanish are now available on the county website:
*The application deadline to apply for these funds is November 16, 2020.

COVID Numbers and Announcements
Governor Pritzker warned today that bars and restaurants in much of the Chicago area could be ordered to suspend inside service again and gatherings would be reduced to 25 as soon as tomorrow as the state’s COVID-19 numbers again spike.

The Governor said Region 8, which covers DuPage and Kane counties, and Region 7, covering Will and Kankakee counties, both have surpassed the 8 percent COVID positivity test rate for two days in a row.  A third day will force us into mitigation actions like those he previously ordered and today implemented in southern Illinois’ Region 5 beginning Thursday. Region 1 is currently in further actions and their positivity rate has climbed to 11%. In fact, all regions have seen positivity rates climb, with the lowest region at 6.2%. We will let you know of developing information.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Chicago is in the beginning of a second surge of COVID-19, with cases increasing across age groups, neighborhoods, and ethnicities. The mayor did not announce any new restrictions today, but warned the city could roll back to Phase Three if the curve is not bent. Remember, this is concerning the City of Chicago, not the state.

Chicago’s test positivity rate is 5.4 percent, up from 4.2 percent at this time last week. The seven-day rolling average of new cases stands at 508, according to the health department. That’s up 45 percent from last week. “We have not yet seen major increases in hospitalizations,” intensive-care admissions or patients on ventilators, Arwady said. “But that is because those indicators take time to show up.” Those more serious outcomes can follow in the next few weeks, she said. The only good news is the city’s test capacity, which is over 10,000 tests per day.

“With the way the numbers are looking, later this week, we are absolutely going to be in red for cases, with a sustained increase of 14 days,” Arwady says. “This has me, and it should have you, very concerned.” Roughly two-thirds of COVID cases are between people who know each other, Arwady said city investigations show. Lightfoot and Arwady both encouraged mask wearing and hand washing and discouraged any non-essential indoor gatherings.

Latest on Relief Discussions
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has given negotiators one more day to strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package in order to pass a bill before Election Day, adding urgency to talks that appear to have devolved into finger-pointing, even as she declared herself “optimistic.”

In a phone call that lasted more than an hour on Saturday night, Pelosi laid out the timeline to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Speaker added on Sunday that Democrats are “seeking clarity” and that the two sides “don’t have agreement language yet.” The White House and Democrats remain apart on major sticking points, including on funds for testing and contact tracing Democrats have demanded in any comprehensive package, she told ABC’s “This Week.”
They are both reported to speak on the phone today to further the discussion. Today would mark the 90th day of discussions between the tow sides.

“With all due respect to some of the people in the president’s administration, they’re not legislators,” Pelosi told host George Stephanopoulos. “So, when they said we’re accepting the language on testing, for example, they’re just making a light touch. They said they changed shall to may, requirements to recommendations, a plan to a strategy, not a strategic plan. They took out 55 percent of the language that we had there for testing and tracing.” Also unsolved: a child tax credit, childcare funding, census policies, unemployment benefits, state, and local funding — and more. Tuesday is the deadline, before negotiators start turning their focus to crafting a lame-duck deal.
Across the aisle, Republicans on Capitol Hill are worried that Mnuchin and President Trump will throw aside their concerns and agree to a $2 trillion-plus deal. In the event the administration and Democrats strike a deal, there remains a major obstacle: Senate Republicans. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement over the weekend that the Senate will “consider” any potential agreement, large swaths of the Senate GOP conference remain opposed to another gargantuan package. McConnell raised eyebrows when he said in a news release Saturday, “If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the Administration, the Senate would of course consider it.” McConnell’s camp said not to read much into this because they don’t anticipate a deal, and if there is a deal, it wouldn’t stand a chance of getting through the Senate.

The President seems to think Republicans will fall in line and pass a package. He said this in Reno on Sunday: “We’re talking about it. I think Nancy Pelosi maybe is coming along. We’ll find out. … I want to do it at a bigger number than she wants. That doesn’t mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end if she would go along, I think they would too, on stimulus. So we’ll see what happens.”

In a sign of where Senate Republicans stand, Senate Majority Leader McConnell is going to speak on the floor this afternoon, and is expected to tee up votes Tuesday on the Paycheck Protection Program and also announced that the upper chamber will vote on a $500 billion package of targeted relief on Wednesday. The bill will include a federal unemployment benefit and another round of small-business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program. According to McConnell, the targeted legislation will also include more than $100 billion for schools as well as money for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine development and distribution.

Illinois Business Interruption Grant Discussion
Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton and DCEO, in collaboration with the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, will be presenting a webinar – “Strategies for Rural Businesses Utilizing Business Interruption Grants (BIG)”. Please join and learn how to successfully apply for BIG to help your business during this challenging time. Lt. Governor Stratton will talk about the Business Interruption Grant program on Wednesday, October 21st at 9:30 am. You can register for this event here:

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.

The BIG program is open to all eligible businesses (for profit and nonprofit) with $20 million or less in annual revenue in 2019 and experienced losses due to COVID-19. Of the total funding, $70 million will be invested in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) and $60 million in heavily impacted industries. A map of the DIAs and the eligibility guidelines can be found on our website. The heavily impacted industries are defined as having annual revenues of $10 million or less and have been close or operating at a very diminished capacity since mid-March and are likely to continue to do so until Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan. These industries include the following:

 Event spaces
 Music venues
 Performing arts venues
 Indoor recreation
 Amusement parks
 Movie theaters
 Museums
 Charter/shuttle buses

Survey: Biggest threat to the economy?
Americans have a lot to worry about in 2020 when it comes to the U.S. economy. A new Bankrate survey finds that the most pressing concern is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, rather than the looming 2020 presidential election.

More than 2 in 5 Americans (or about 44 percent) say the novel contagion is the biggest threat to the financial system over the next six months. That compares with 34 percent who point to the outcome of the November vote. Americans are breaking with tradition by fixating on a different downside risk than the election, according to separate iterations of Bankrate’s downside risk survey from previous election years.

Respondents right before the 2016 elections were almost 1.8 times more likely than today to point to the Oval Office outcome as the biggest economic risk, with 61 percent listing it as their top concern over the next six months. Even in non-election years, Americans have pointed to discord in Washington as a significant source of economic worry, with 38 percent citing it in April 2017, 36 percent in September 2017, 43 percent in November 2018 and 44 percent in April 2019.

The survey’s findings underscore the tumultuousness of 2020 and might reveal just how worried Americans are about the contagion, especially given the unprecedented amount of contention surrounding the 2020 vote. Millennials (those between the ages of 24-39) were 1.5 times more likely to say that the coronavirus pandemic was a bigger threat than the election, with 42 percent pointing to the contagion compared with 28 percent worrying most about the presidential race. Generation X (those between the ages of 40-55) and baby boomers (ages 56-74) were more evenly split, with slightly less than half (45 percent) of each citing the pandemic as their biggest worry, instead of the election (37 percent for Generation X and 40 percent of baby boomers).

When it comes to the U.S. economy’s performance over the next six months, what matters most isn’t the specific fears Americans are citing — but how they adjust their spending patterns because of them. Bankrate’s survey found that these worries are weighing on American’s wallets. More than half (or 57 percent) of Americans who’ve said they’re worried about a downside risk say they’re also spending less — specifically because of it. That compares with 42 percent who said they weren’t spending less and roughly 1.4 percent who either declined to answer or marked that they didn’t know how exactly their spending patterns have changed.

Two-thirds of Generation Xers (at 66 percent) were the most likely of any age group to cut their spending, compared with 52 percent of millennials and 56 percent of baby boomers. Another almost two-thirds (or 65 percent) of those who make less than $30,000 a year are cutting back on their purchases, as are 63 percent of Democrats versus 47 percent of Republicans.

Also spelling trouble for the rebound, the percentage of those who are spending less because of economic fears over the next six months has increased more than two-fold since previous surveys, with almost a quarter in both April 2019 (25 percent) and November 2018 (23 percent) reportedly cutting back on spending.

Bankrate’s latest quarterly survey of economists finds that the pandemic’s devastating effects are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Unemployment is forecasted to hold at about 7 percent a year from now, while job growth is likely going to average out to 369,000 each month, economists reported. If that’s the case, it means it might take nearly two and a half more years to bring back all of the 22.2 million positions lost at the height of the pandemic. Roughly half have been recovered so far, and Federal Reserve officials are echoing concerns that momentum is slowing and bringing back the rest will only get harder from here.

“If we go through the fall, past the election and into the holidays without a deal, the economy could hit a wall,” says Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments. “The biggest concern right now in the markets is that the economy could stall out because of a lack of stimulus.”

Upcoming PPP Forgiveness & EIDL Seminars Held by Illinois SBDC 
Tuesday, Oct. 20
PPP Loan Forgiveness | Hosted by the SBDC/ITC at College of Lake County | 9 a.m. | Register here

Wednesday, Oct. 21
SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness | Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at Champaign County EDC | 10 a.m. | Register here

Thursday, Oct. 22
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program | 1 p.m. | Register here

Friday, Oct. 23
SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness | Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at Champaign County EDC | 3 p.m. | Register here

Monday, Oct. 26
SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness | Hosted by the Illinois SBDC at Champaign County EDC | 3 p.m. | Register here

Candidates Forum
Next Thursday, the 22nd of October, the Chamber will host a Candidates forum with 12 invited. The following offices have been invited – US Congress District 11, Illinois Senate Dist. 43, Illinois Senate Dist. 49, Illinois House Dist. 37, Illinois House Dist. 97, and Will County Executive. More information and to register for this virtual conference at 3:00 pm, visit this link:

Finally, please join the Joliet Chamber, Megan Millen – City Center Partnership Board Chair, and Rod Tonelli – City Center Partnership Economic Development Chair, for a HYBRID luncheon on Thursday, October 29 beginning at 11:30 AM to discuss:

  • City Center Partnership Overview
  • Downtown Development Project Updates
  • Review of Downtown Grants and Impacts
  • Preview of some of the exciting things coming to Downtown

Guests will have the opportunity to attend in-person (limited to 50 guests) or virtually via You can register here:

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