Chamber Members:

See the information below for the virtual conference for this week as we welcome Will County Executive Denise Winfrey on Wednesday for the annual State of the County Address.  County Executive Winfrey will join us at 11 AM. Also, all non-profit organizations should see info below to familiarize yourself with the Will County Non-Profit Assistance Program that should be open soon. Enjoy your first full week of October!

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Virtual Conference: State of the County address with Will County Executive Denise Winfrey
Please join the Joliet Chamber for an update about Will County including:

  • The wrap up of the largest capital campaign in the county’s history
  • The County’s response to the COVID crisis – the quick alteration of delivery to ensure county services were maintained for our residents
  • Balanced budget without a tax increase which will ensure a stable county government

Join us this Wednesday, October 7th at 11:00 a.m. Register here:

Coronavirus Relief Package
Congressional Democrats and the administration are continuing negotiations on a fifth coronavirus package, talks that gained new urgency in the wake of President Trump’s diagnosis. The President tweeted considerably less while in the hospital and one was about getting a deal done, so we’ll see if that means their side is prioritizing the need to make something move. Where it stands – the two sides are still haggling over a price tag for a bill, which has been a months-long sticking point.

The Senate is not supposed to be back until the 19th and the election is less than 30 days away.

Navigating PPP and Federal Funding for Illinois Small Business: October Update
As developments continue to unfold in response to the spread of COVID-19, please join Small Business Majority and the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois District Office for their regular bi-weekly webinar on updates to PPP and EIDL loans, plus other federal and non-federal capital support, for small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Topics include:

  • New updates and overview of federal aid programs, including any updates on the PPP loan forgiveness process
  • Navigating funding options and avoiding predatory lending
  • Federal policy recommendations to immediately help small businesses

Tuesday, October 6, at 4:30 PM
Register today for this free webinar

Will County Non-Profit Assistance Program
Will County anticipates providing non-profit assistance in extremely near future. Check this website frequently for information and updates related to Will County’s response to COVID-19:

A little over six million is anticipated to be released for funding. For more information or if you have questions, please email

Assistance for Members in Cook County
We haven’t really shared much about programs in Cook but do realize that some of you may operate from there, so here is some info regarding a Cook County assistance program.

As part of Cook County’s ongoing COVID-19 Community Recovery Initiative efforts, the Bureau of Economic Development, in partnership with more than 35 county-wide organizations, is providing critical support for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Program offerings include:

  • $10,000 Grants for small businesses (less than 20 employees) in suburban Cook County
  • Cook County / Chicago Business Advising Program
  • Business Resiliency Webinars

Applications are open now and will close at 5 PM on October 6, 2020
Find eligibility and applications here:

Finally, here is an article suggesting 4 Ways to Survive Working (and Learning) From Home with Kids. With only a small percentage of students going to school in person, working parents are yet again asking themselves, “How am I going to get through this?”

Together, along with many working parents across the country, I’m just trying to keep my head above water at work and at home (the same location) and make sure that my kids get an education. While it’s definitely been a trial by fire situation, I have learned a lot since March about ways to make the working-and-learning-from-home situation work–or least, a little more productive for everyone involved.

Here are the tricks that are keeping the members of my household little saner and collaborating (pretty) well together:

1. Set up a dedicated workspace for everyone
I live in a two-bedroom apartment near New York City with my husband (who also works full time) and my kids (3 and 6 years old) who are in school part time. All four of us need to be able to log onto our laptops and iPads to take calls, participate in Zooms, and not talk over each other’s conversations–or completely disrupt one another’s focus.

We’ve set up stations all around our apartment (with headphones) for everyone. Even though my kids are small, I try to respect that they–like all of us–need a comfortable and distraction-free area to get their learning done.

In an effort to get very creative with our space, we put one of those workstations inside of our walk-in closet. At first, I was a little resistant to using it (no window or air circulation?), but since being in there puts two doors between me and my little ones, it’s actually the quietest space in the apartment. With the help of a small fan and a good desk chair, it feels pretty comfy.

My husband and I trade using it when we have important Zooms (he thinks my wardrobe hanging behind him is an amusing backdrop/conversation starter, but I’m all about the pretty Zoom background).

2. Set a date with your calendar(s)
Never has planning ahead been more important to my survival as a working parent. The only way for me to keep many balls from falling is to set aside time each and every day to update and triple check my calendars.

And, yes, there’s more than just one. There’s professional calendar I keep for myself, the one shared between my colleagues and me (where we block any “out of office” or family time), and the one I share with my husband to manage our kids’ appointments and deadlines.

My husband I also meet informally at least once a week to determine if we have an important video meeting happening at the same time. (We try to avoid this unless we’re 100 percent sure we have in-person school or childcare to deal with).

It’s a lot of coordinating, but skipping over that all-important planning step rarely works out well. It seems counterintuitive, but I’ve learned from some very successful women that it’s always better to prioritize planning over execution–you’ll be the one who shows up calm, on time, and prepared (and you’re even more likely to meet your deadlines).

3. Reward and inspire your little learners
Both adults and children respond well to rewards and incentives–and clever caregivers know that. The kids’ dentist has a treasure chest filled with little trinkets; our doctor has stickers. At school, there is a “desk fairy” that delivers prizes for the students who keep their workspaces clean.

When kids are doing most of their learning from home, we (super busy) parents often forget about the tiny things that both incentivize our little students and make them proud.

My fellow working mom Jessica, who is overseeing remote learning for her son (and couple other kids), took the prize box concept one step further after she realized her son wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about online classes. Rather than a toy, she made a box filled with fun adventures that could help the kids learn.

Some ideas written on slips in the box: “Build a new toy out of recycling,” “Mail a letter to someone you love,” and “Try 5 new yoga moves. She says, “These are small daily treats my son sees as fun because they are a mystery until he picks them each day.”

For those times that you really need your at-home students to focus (and free you up to execute), don’t be afraid to provide incentives and mysteries, however small they are, to help them dive into something fun and new.

4. Delegate child care when you can
This is a tricky one–because it’s not always possible. Whether its budget, concern about exposing family to germs, or uncertainty about schools opening/staying open, it’s extremely challenging to plan any kind of childcare right now. But having no contingency plan at all is definitely going to make you stressed at the least–and at worst, strain the relationship you have with your employer.

For some of us, it may be easier to trade off time with other like-minded parents (or pod families) to watch one another’s kids (and supervise online learning) one or two days a week.

If your job has less flexibility or your kids are very young, you may choose to invest in a paid caregiver for at least some of those hours (full disclosure–this is what I chose). I say “invest” because those payments–while not necessarily something you planned for–may enable you to stay more focused and able to grow in your current role. This, in turn, could make you a higher income earner down the road.

However you’re handling your job and the school year ahead, my hat is off to you! Its far from easy!!

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