Chamber Members:

Don’t forget about our next virtual conference which will take place this Thursday. It is an extremely timely topic as the deadline is fast approaching for anti-sexual harassment training. Today we look at an awfully close congressional race, moving forward with federal issues, and more cannabis records.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Election Follow Up
A week after the election, the race for the 14th Congressional District seat is still too close to call. Current Congresswoman, Lauren Underwood, who trailed former State Representative Jim Oberweis on election night by 895 votes, has since pulled ahead with a margin of about 1,100 votes.

All eyes are now on the seven counties that make up the 14th District. A few have released mail-in results piecemeal, and Lake and McHenry counties are expected to release more today. McHenry officials say they expect to release between 2,000 and 5,000 ballot results. The remaining tally will be announced Nov. 17.

The race is so close that both campaigns are making plans to contest the election if the other one wins.

Moving Forward
Lawmakers return to Washington for Congress’s lame-duck session confronting a number of major problems but lacking clear signals from President Trump — even as President-elect Joe Biden and his team are poised to begin engaging with congressional Democrats on their priorities.

Congress faces a government shutdown deadline and crucial economic relief negotiations at a moment of extraordinary national uncertainty. Even before Biden takes office on Jan. 20, Congress must contend with a Dec. 11 government funding deadline. Failure to reach a deal would result in a government shutdown, and President Trump has not signaled whether he would sign a new spending bill. Those spending negotiations are expected to begin in earnest this week as lawmakers work to cobble together a massive package wrapping up the 12-annual must-pass spending bills that fund government agencies. McConnell and Pelosi have said they want to finish work on the fiscal 2021 spending bills during the lame-duck session, rather than just passing another short-term funding extension on Dec. 11 that would punt the real work of funding the government to the next administration.

If they cannot agree on new spending legislation, however, a short-term “continuing resolution” would become the likeliest fallback. Any number of thorny issues are likely to arise in the course of spending talks.

At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both expressed the desire to pass new economic and health-care relief measures to address the surging coronavirus pandemic — something Congress has not been able to do since the spring.

It is uncertain whether the work on spending legislation will collide with negotiations over economic relief measures, which could be attached to the spending bill or move separately. Lawmakers in both parties widely agree on the need for more spending on health-care systems, vaccines, schools and small businesses, and McConnell and Pelosi have indicated support for sending out a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks to individuals.

McConnell also indicated support shortly after the election for sending additional aid to cities and states, something that has been a central Democratic demand. But McConnell and Pelosi have been far apart on the overall price tag of any economic relief legislation, with McConnell arguing this past week that a jobs report showing unemployment had dropped to 6.9 percent supported his push for a narrower relief bill — a position Pelosi rejected.

Cannabis Sales Top $100,000 for 1st Time
Monthly cannabis sales in Illinois topped $100 million for the first time in October. That huge haul was largely due to the record $75 million in recreational marijuana sales tallied last month, according the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Sales of medical products accounted for another $33 million.

October’s total sales trumped the previous high set a month earlier, when over $99 million in cannabis was sold throughout Illinois. In the first 10 months since cannabis was fully legalized, dispensaries across the state sold over $500 million worth of recreational and roughly $300 million in medical.
News of the record monthly sales came as six Chicago suburbs voted last Tuesday to allow recreational sales, a trend that appears to demonstrate the growing acceptability of the newly legalized drug. What’s more, recreational sales opening up in Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Park Ridge, Batavia, Glen Ellyn, and Wilmette will also provide more options to cannabis companies prospecting for hot retail locations outside Chicago.

Communication Coach’s 3 Best Tips to Make Video Presentations Less Awkward
Some people love public speaking. Others dread it. But absolutely no one gets excited about presenting over Zoom.

Why would they? Presenting over video generally means speaking at your computer for however many minutes, anxiously wondering how your speech is going down while worrying whether your neck looks funny from the camera angle you’ve chosen.

That hardly sounds like a blast for you or for the audience. But according to communication coach and Georgetown University professor Sarah Gershman, it doesn’t have to be this way. You may never be able to bathe in the buzz of the room over Zoom, but on HBR recently Gershman said that it is possible to make presenting over video way less awkward. Here are her tips:

1. Use the chat feature. 
In-person presentations often begin with a brief introduction and a round of hellos or applause. Then the speaker launches into what’s hopefully a strong opener.

How does the average Zoom presentation or webinar start? Fiddling with equipment and the speaker asking, “Can everyone hear me?” The whole thing feels awkward and impersonal from the get-go. The way to fix that, according to Gershman, is to recreate some of the interactive feeling of a normal presentation using the chat feature of your chosen video platform.

“You could begin with a relevant question and ask people to type the answer in the chat. For example, you might ask everyone to write one thing they hope to learn from the presentation,” she writes. “Make sure to read aloud at least some of the answers (and use first names if you can). When you engage the audience immediately, you feel as though people are listening, which raises your confidence for the rest of the presentation.”

2. Keep it conversational. 
This might sound like an odd tip at first. The whole problem, after all, is that presenting over video makes it hard to get any sort of back-and-forth going between the speaker and the audience. But Gershman says that, despite the limitations of the tech, speakers should still show their awareness that there are real human beings out there listening.

“One way to simulate the back and forth nature of a conversation is to ask rhetorical questions throughout your presentation. For example, when you introduce a new idea, you might say, ‘Are you ready to try something new?’ Or, if you want people to notice something, you might say, ‘Do you see the shift from low to high on the chart?'” she suggests.

The conversation might be one-sided, but these gestures can be enough to keep the audience engaged and the speaker from melting down with anxiety.

3. Empathize.
Some speaking tips are so fundamental they work in every format–they’re just even more important for video presentations. One of these is empathy.

One of TED curators’ top tips for speakers, for instance, is to remember everyone is on your side. The audience isn’t there to judge you. They’re there to learn from you, and it’s your job to serve them. The key to keeping your cool as a speaker, in other words, is to try to put yourself in the place of the audience.

Gershman believes empathy is especially important over Zoom. “Keep in mind that it is difficult and draining to listen to a virtual presentation,” she advises. “By empathizing with your virtual audience, you shift the focus away from yourself (and what others think of you), which relieves speaking anxiety. Empathizing also helps you design a presentation that best helps your audience and serves their needs.”

Program and Event Notices & Reminders

Ready to Grow Your Business?
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

Expanded by the CARES Act, the EIDL program has been around for a couple of years and is intended to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue during a declared disaster. Here’s our step-by-step guide.
The SBA will pay 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all current 7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status as well as new 7(a), 504, and Microloans disbursed prior to September 27, 2020.
These loans allow small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
Click here for the Small Business Administration’s website, where you’ll find additional programs as well as more resources and guides for coronavirus-impacted businesses. 

Finally, a reminder that our next virtual conference will be this Thursday, November 12thThe topic is an extremely important one as all should know by now that by the end of this year it is mandatory for ALL offices to go through anti-sexual harassment training. We have partnered with Marji Swanson from the offices of Mahoney, Silverman, & Cross, LLC to deliver this session that fulfills your requirement. Unfortunately, it does not apply to bars and restaurants as that training is an industry specific one. Webinar will begin at 11 am and last approximately one hour. You may 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