Chamber Members:

Today begins the second round of additional mitigations here in our region. Please support all of our members that are impacted by this mandate. In fact, support all of your fellow members through these times as everyone needs all the support possible. You can find our member businesses here:

Also, please follow the three W’s – wash your hands frequently, watch your distance, and wear your mask. Remember, we need to bring numbers below 6.5% for three days and the sooner this happens then the better. Let’s all work to get these businesses back to “normal” as soon as possible.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Latest on Relief Discussions
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that negotiators are “just about there” in stimulus discussions as it becomes increasingly likely that any bill will have to wait for consideration in both chambers in the lame duck period after the elections. Reportedly, she told her leadership team on a private conference call Thursday afternoon that Democratic lawmakers have been telling her they don’t want to vote on a Covid relief bill before the election unless Senate Majority Leader McConnell was going to put it on the floor of the Senate before Nov. 3.

Pelosi, appearing at her weekly press conference, told reporters that while the two sides are moving closer to a deal, they still have not reached consensus on the two key remaining issues that have divided them for months: funding for state and local governments, and a liability shield that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has demanded as part of any package.

“It’s only about time,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it is in range for us to pass it before the election. But it’s not up to me to decide what the Senate does.”

As Pelosi and the White House move closer to a deal, Republicans are directing their ire at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who they believe has made too many concessions to Democrats in talks, including a top-line figure of at least $1.9 trillion.

Chicago Moves Forward on Restrictions
Days after threatening to roll back restrictions on Chicago businesses if COVID-19 cases continue to spike, Mayor Lori Lightfoot followed through Thursday by imposing a 10 p.m. curfew on all nonessential city businesses.

In addition to the curfew starting Friday, the city will again prohibit indoor service at traditional taverns and brewery taprooms without food licenses, and asked residents to cap any social gatherings at six people.

The new restrictions follow a news conference earlier this week during which Lightfoot sounded the alarm about a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases since the start of October and threatened the stricter guidelines on businesses.

At the earlier event, Lightfoot put the blame for the increase squarely on private gatherings in Chicago homes, saying interactions in restaurants, bars and gyms didn’t seem to be really driving the spike in infections in the city.

Pritzker Administration Moves to Increase Earned Income Credit Participation
New Initiative Targets Over 22,000 Illinoisans who Automatically Qualify for EIC Funds; Eligible Taxpayers Will Receive Letter with Instructions

This week, the Pritzker administration and the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) commenced a new outreach initiative to increase Earned Income Credit (EIC) participation by targeting taxpayers who qualified but failed to claim the credit. The EIC, along with the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), are tools designed to put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of working households. IDOR has identified more than 22,000 Illinois taxpayers who successfully claimed the federal EITC but failed to take the Illinois EIC even though they automatically qualified. Targeted taxpayers will receive a letter confirming their eligibility, estimating a refund amount, and instructing them how to finalize their claim.

Most households are eligible for the federal EITC if they earn less than $55,952. The Illinois EIC is a refundable tax credit automatically available to federally eligible households and is worth up to 18 percent of a taxpayer’s federal claim. In 2020, an eligible Illinois household could be due a refund of up to $1,157.  By failing to file for this powerful credit, these targeted households are leaving more than an estimated $10 million dollars unclaimed.

While IDOR is targeting identified qualified households, the department encourages all residents who think they may be eligible but did not receive a letter to take action. The IRS estimates nationwide that only four out of five eligible households claim the federal credit which means tens of thousands more Illinoisans are missing out on this powerful tool. Eligible taxpayers must meet certain income and residency qualifications and file a tax return, even if they do not owe any tax or are not required to file. The Internal Revenue Service recommends that all workers who earned around $55,952 or less learn about EITC eligibility and use the EITC Assistant to find out if they qualify.

Federally, eligible families with three or more qualifying children could get a maximum credit of up to $6,557. EITC for people without children could mean up to $529 added to their tax refund.

For more information on the Illinois Earned Income Credit, please visit IDOR’s website at:

How to Grow a Company During Uncertain Times
When Alexa von Tobel and Lucy Deland started their first companies, they each faced the same huge hurdle: It was the Great Recession, and everyone they knew thought they’d fail. But that didn’t happen.

In 2008, Deland left a job at Insight Venture Partners to start the highly successful online correspondence platform Paperless Post. The same year, von Tobel dropped out of Harvard Business School to start LearnVest, which Northwestern Mutual later acquired for $250 million.

Then, in 2019, von Tobel started Inspired Capital with former U.S. secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker as co-founder and Deland as partner. The veteran business owners now aim to lend some of their wisdom and experience to other entrepreneurs.

“It’s the only job that as you are getting better at it, it gets harder,” von Tobel said of being a founder during a session at the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference Wednesday. “As you’re getting better, as the company’s doing better, your learning curve is getting steeper, and you’re just constantly on a treadmill of getting better and having to see through immense stress and chaos.”
Von Tobel and Deland told the audience at the virtual event that passion and resilience during uncertain times is what made them successful, and it’s what they now look for in founders they want to invest in. Here are some of the biggest takeaways the two founders have learned about building a company that lasts.

1. Have a Plan B … and C and D.
The two veteran entrepreneurs know better than just about anyone how important it is to have a backup plan, especially when something like a global pandemic occurs. Von Tobel noted that a big part of being a CEO is tackling complicated problems head-on, so you need to know how to stretch funds or retool a product or service offering.

During the session, she likened keeping a company alive to being an emergency room surgeon who sees a patient after an accident. You have the keep the patient alive and thriving while also figuring out what to treat first, discerning what the most pressing priorities are. “Your job as CEO is often to figure out which is that one thing, and you’re kind of alone in making that call,” von Tobel said.

2. Set up leadership boundaries.
When your company starts to grow, one of the most difficult transitions founders have to make is from being the doers on the ground to being leaders and executive managers only. And one of the ways to do that, Deland said, is to “force yourself out of the details.” As an example, Deland said, when an executive who worked for her would send her a document, she arranged so she was unable to edit it, requesting “read-only” permission. That way when she was giving feedback, she was not able to make any changes herself.

3. Take some time to revisit the basics.
In retrospect, Deland said, the biggest lesson that starting a company during a recession taught her was to embrace discipline and the challenges of surviving to fight another day, because that’s the very nature of running a startup. It makes you focus on the big things like finding product-market fit, appreciating your customers, and listening really carefully.

While these are trying times for businesses, Deland said the advice she’s been giving her portfolio companies is to take this time to think like a new, struggling startup–even if you have capital–and figure out exactly what your company’s value is. “It’s an interesting time for learning,” she said about the companies in her portfolio, “and for really getting back to the core of what it is that is going to differentiate your company.”

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at JJC is offering assistance for existing businesses during these times.

21 Topics in 21 Minutes for 2021 Growth
In less than 30 minutes, the SBDC will help you prioritize key 2021 business plans whether it is for your people, your product, your marketing, your sales, your money, or the impact of this crisis. In this short, one-on-one exercise, we will help you determine up to three of the biggest opportunities for growth in the year ahead. We will offer no-cost tools to develop your strategy for success in those areas. Email us at and we will send you a link for registration.

Will County Small Business Assistance Grant

Business Interruption Grant

Finally, due to the recent mitigations, we have moved our Thursday, October 29 hybrid member luncheon to a completely virtual event. This virtual conference will begin at 11:30 AM. You can sign up participate here:

Downtown Joliet – The Renaissance Continues

Please join the Joliet Chamber and Megan Millen – City Center Partnership Board Chair, and Rod Tonelli – City Center Partnership Economic Development Chair, for a hybrid luncheon to discuss:

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

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