Thank you to Will County Executive Denise Winfrey for joining us today on our Virtual Conference. Denise shared with us several important updates regarding programs and projects within Will County. In addition, she made an announcement concerning the CARES Act funds that the County has been working with. You can read more about that below. For those of you that missed the session, you can view the recording on our COVID-19 resource page ( https://jolietchamber.com/2020/03/covid-19/ ). Also, President Trump announces preferences hours after calling off aid talks with Speaker Pelosi.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
President in Favor of Passing Specific Relief
President Trump late Tuesday signaled he would support specific measures on stimulus checks, help for the airline industry and small business loans, hours after cutting off bipartisan talks for more coronavirus relief.
The President is calling for an approval of $25 billion in airline payroll support and $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act.
He then stated that if he were to be sent a stand-alone bill for stimulus checks, they would go out to people immediately after his approval.
The messages came after stocks nosedived after President Trump pulled the plug on talks for a broader stimulus agreement. All three major stock indexes lost solid gains from earlier in the day and fell into negative territory after the announcement.
Impact of Shutting Down Talks on Illinois
President Trump’s message to halt talks on a relief bill before the November elections will have an impact back here locally as a major sticking point has been funds coming back to state and municipalities.
“By shutting down negotiations that could have brought desperately needed funds to cities and towns all across America, again today, Donald Trump provided further evidence of his failure to lead. ‘You’re on your own’ is how he has governed since day one. We can and must do better,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted.
Governor Pritzker’s office, meanwhile, called on the President to reengage with congressional lawmakers. “The failure of revenue due to the pandemic is not a blue state vs. red state issue, it’s a challenge that every single state across this nation is grappling with.” Illinois’ fiscal year doesn’t start until July 1, so Pritzker has some wiggle room before he presents his next budget. In the meantime, he has warned that layoffs, service reductions, and budget cuts are possible without federal relief.
There was hope that Congress would offer support for cities and states that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as businesses and families with a federal relief package for months now.
Will COVID Affect the State General Assembly Veto Session?
The General Assembly is scheduled to return to Springfield in six weeks. The calendar has them returning three days in mid-November and three days after Thanksgiving. Barring any increased concerns about the coronavirus, the session remains on schedule, according to the offices of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon.
Some lawmakers have said they’d prefer to meet once for five days to avoid the increased possibility of contracting COVID — especially so close to the Thanksgiving holiday. And the question about allowing the public in also remains a factor.
The Senate has already approved virtual voting, and though the House narrowly defeated it last time around, watch for it to come up again.
Topics to look forward to include the following:
- Budget gap ideas – will largely depend on the progressive income tax amendment and then the possibility of federal funds based on who wins the presidential race
- Social justice initiatives
- Meaningful ethics reform
More on PPP Loan Forgiveness Delays
Some banks aren’t ready to process PPP loan forgiveness applications nearly a month after the SBA program launched. That is going to put a lot of business owners in a bind. If getting a PPP loan approved meant you had to move at warp speed, getting one forgiven may well feel like you’re stuck in slow motion.
As of September 24, the U.S. Small Business Administration had received just over 96,000 loan forgiveness applications, according to the testimony of SBA’s chief of staff and associate administrator for capital access, William Manger. That is only about 2 percent of the total loans made. Manger, speaking before a House subcommittee meeting, further noted that while no application had been turned down so far, none had been fully approved either. The SBA hasn’t provided a more recent update.
While the SBA launched its online forgiveness portal on August 10, the review process is time-consuming, taking as long as 90 days before the agency needs to remit anything to the lender. And the lender, filing the forgiveness application on behalf of the borrower, has 60 days before it needs to submit anything to the SBA.
Borrowers themselves may apply for forgiveness at any point–even before the end of their PPP loan’s covered period. However, principal and interest payments aren’t due until 10 months after the conclusion of the covered period. Currently, only allowable expenses such as payroll costs and benefits expenses may be forgiven. And only funds spent within the 24-week covered period are eligible for forgiveness. Early PPP applicants might have just eight weeks to spend their PPP funds, as the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act extended the covered period for new borrowers. Eligible nonpayroll costs such as mortgage interest and certain utilities cannot exceed 40 percent of the total forgiveness amount.
That’s how the program is supposed to work. In practice, some lenders aren’t even ready to receive PPP forgiveness applications, says LJ Suzuki, founder and CEO of CFOShare, a Denver-based finance and accounting outsourcing company for small businesses. He adds that lenders are likely taking their time getting set up to avoid being crushed by applications, as they were during the initial launch of the program. “They want to make sure all the IT bugs are worked out,” he said. There is also hope that Congress will pass some kind of blanket forgiveness bill that will allow for the automatic forgiveness of loans under $150,000, but stimulus talks have stalled.
The problems arising from forgiveness delays are myriad. Chiefly, it puts another level of potential financial strain on companies. To receive full forgiveness, businesses must maintain their headcount through the covered period and at the time of forgiveness. Should that process get delayed, it will put businesses in an untenable position, says Jake McDonald, a former banker and current director at CBIZ, a national accounting and advisory firm headquartered in Cleveland.
“We’re talking with businesses about that,” he adds. “They say, ‘Look, I’ve depleted PPP funds; I need to make staffing decisions.'” Essentially, in a low-to-no revenue environment–and without any additional economic relief–businesses are having a hard time keeping people on staff. And soon, he says, they’re going to need to let people go–with or without an answer on forgiveness.
The good news is that companies have until the end of the year to bring people back–presuming they can rehire former staffers or hire similarly qualified workers–and still qualify for forgiveness. But that still puts them in a bind, adds McDonald. “It creates a lot of extra administration tasks and associated costs.”
Will County 501(C)(3) Non-Profit Assistance Program
Many non-profits have experienced significant impact due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Will County recognizes that non-profits have been impacted in many ways, including the need to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their employees, clients, and members.
Will County is providing eligible non-profits with grants up to $2,000 to pay for PPE and other COVID-19 related needs through a simple application process. County Executive Denise Winfrey announced during our virtual conference that beginning today, you can access the application. The application period will go through Monday, November 16. You can find the application and more information about the program here: https://willcountyillinois.com/CARES-Act/Non-Profit-Assistance
Will County Small Business Assistance Grant Program
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. During today’s virtual conference, County Executive Winfrey announced that the first set of payments have been authorized so those receiving the funds should be notified very soon.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry