Happy Thanksgiving week to all! It is a short week, so we’ll probably share a good amount of information up front as we’ll not have an update out on Thursday or Friday (and see how Wednesday goes).
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Federal Aid Update
An incident at the end of last week paints a good picture of the nature of negotiations and just how the politics of it will likely continue on throughout the end of this year and most likely into the beginning of 2021.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was in upstate New York and he said that Republicans had finally agreed to COVID-19 relief negotiations, and they would meet later that day. He positioned this as a breakthrough. Democratic aides throughout the Capitol echoed the message that it was indeed true that representatives to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Schumer, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were meeting to discuss government funding and coronavirus relief.
This seemed to be news to Republicans who immediately said it was not true and that the meeting was simply about the end-of-year government funding bill, which is due for renewal on Dec. 11th. Nonetheless, the media hopped on the news.
After the meeting, Democrats described it this way: “Staff for the four corners spoke today at 2pm. In the meeting, they discussed COVID relief and omnibus (separately). Democrats look forward to continuing those talks.” Republicans said bluntly, no. It was a government funding talk.
Reports from sources claim this is the actual truth – the two sides did in fact discuss the expiration of COVID-19 relief-related items like pandemic unemployment assistance, student loan forbearance and the Paycheck Protection Program — but they did not talk about a new Covid relief deal. It’s entirely possible that some existing programs get renewed in or alongside a government funding bill.
So, it all depends how you define “Covid relief talks.” They did talk about renewing expiring measures, but it was mostly a pretty pedestrian meeting about government funding. But that’s about it. As it stands, they can’t seem to even agree on what was discussed at a meeting as the nation holds out hope that they’ll be able to work together to come to an agreement on a new round of relief.
With That Said …
Advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. are planning for the increasing likelihood that the United States economy is headed for a “double-dip” recession early next year. They are pushing for Democratic leaders in Congress to reach a quick stimulus deal with Senate Republicans, even if it falls short of the larger package Democrats have been seeking, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Until now, Mr. Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, have insisted that Republicans agree to a spending bill of $2 trillion or more, while Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, wants a much smaller package. The resulting impasse has threatened to delay additional economic aid until after Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Many of the president-elect’s advisers have become convinced that deteriorating economic conditions from the renewed surge in Covid-19 infections and the looming threat of millions of Americans losing jobless benefits in December amid a wave of evictions and foreclosures require more urgent action before year’s end. That could mean moving at least part of the way toward Mr. McConnell’s offer of a $500 billion package.
Mr. Biden’s aides have weighed having the president-elect announce in the coming weeks that he will sign executive orders on his first day in office extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and deferrals of some student loan payments that are set to expire at the end of the year, the people familiar with the discussions said. He could also announce that he will sign an order providing a more gradual schedule for repayment of payroll taxes that some employers, including the federal government, had deferred into 2021 under an executive order issued by President Trump. Such orders could lessen or avoid an economic cliff of expiring protections for renters, homeowners and some borrowers, which experts fear could hasten an economic contraction.
Economists are increasingly stressing the need for lawmakers to act quickly, even if that means reaching agreement on smaller package. A bipartisan group convened by the Aspen Institute’s Economic Strategy Group — including former Treasury secretaries under Democratic and Republican administrations — urged lawmakers to approve a package that includes aid to small businesses, individuals and state and local governments, saying the economy “cannot wait until 2021” for relief.
“What I’m really worried about is the millions of people who are going to be without food or without a home during the winter,” said Melissa S. Kearney, the economist who directs the strategy group. “That level of individual suffering, really, to me, should be everyone’s priority and move them past their political differences.”
Mnuchin Declines to Extend Several Fed Emergency Lending Programs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would allow several emergency Federal Reserve lending programs to expire, opening a divide with the central bank, which had pressed for an extension.
As a result, on Dec. 31 several novel Fed programs that have backed corporate credit and municipal-borrowing markets and that have provided loans to small and midsize businesses and nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic will end. In a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell released to the public after markets closed Thursday, Mr. Mnuchin said the programs “have clearly achieved their objectives.”
Credit markets, which nearly froze in March as the pandemic triggered a financial shock, have been rehabilitated, Mr. Mnuchin said. “Banks have the lending capacity to meet the borrowing needs of their corporate, municipal and nonprofit clients,” he said. The central bank signaled disappointment in his decision. “The Federal Reserve would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy,” the Fed said in a statement.
Congress provided $454 billion in March to the Treasury to backstop loans made by the Fed, and Mr. Mnuchin quickly made $195 billion of that money available for five lending programs that will now end on Dec. 31. The Treasury has provided half of the $195 billion to limited liability corporations set up at the Fed to make loans and buy assets.
The programs have generally been lightly used, but for different reasons. In some cases, such as corporate-debt backstops, lower volumes reflect the success the mere announcement of the Fed backstops has had in spurring private investors to buy assets. The Fed, for example, promised to purchase up to $750 billion in debt of large companies that had been rated investment-grade as of March 22, but it ended up buying much less—around $13.5 billion as of Wednesday.
In others, such as the Main Street Lending Program for small and midsize businesses, low uptake reflects complications the Fed and Treasury encountered launching the program and enticing banks and borrowers to use it.
Restaurant Lawsuits over COVID-19 Restrictions Merged in Sangamon County Court
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed to combine 10 lawsuits challenging indoor dining bans across the state with existing cases in Sangamon County that raise the same legal questions. The Supreme Court’s order brings a total of 19 cases involving legal challenges to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 related restrictions that are now consolidated in Sangamon County Court before Judge Raylene Grischow.
The 10 cases added to Grischow’s group of pending cases were all brought by businesses operating as restaurants with indoor dining service, and all the cases are against Pritzker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and IDPH.
The order filed on Tuesday is in response to a request from lawyers with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which represents the governor and state agencies. The AG’s lawyers note that all of the cases raise the same question about the governor’s authority to issue multiple, successive disaster proclamations under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
Grischow has already ruled in favor of Pritzker’s authority to issue multiple 30-day disaster proclamations in two cases that challenged the governor’s executive orders mandating certain public health measures in K-12 schools.
The cases consolidated before Grischow are scheduled for oral arguments in Sangamon County on Dec. 21.
AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Up to 90% Effective in Late-Stage Trials
AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford said their Covid-19 vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing infections without serious side effects in large clinical trials, boosting hopes that a third Western-developed shot could be authorized for use before the end of the year.
The partners said Monday that there were no confirmed serious safety events related to the vaccine and that it was well tolerated across different dosing regimens. Its efficacy ranged from 62% to 90% depending on the dosage given, with an average of 70%, they said.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine stands out among the leading Western candidates. The partners committed to selling it without profit during the pandemic and promised to distribute it across a much wider geographic footprint, including in large parts of the developing world. The shot is expected to cost $3 to $5 a dose globally during the pandemic.
The shot was created from a more traditional vaccine methodology than the gene-based technology used by Moderna and Pfizer. The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot doesn’t need to be stored in subzero temperatures, making its rollout easier, researchers and logistics experts say.
Participants in the trials are 18 years or older with stable underlying medical conditions. There were 131 Covid-19 cases among trial volunteers analyzed in the results. Researchers said that in addition to showing positive results in stopping transmission of the disease, the vaccine was effective in preventing severe symptoms and hospitalizations—a sought-after benefit to curb Covid-19 deaths and stop hospitals from being overburdened.
AstraZeneca said it would seek emergency-use authorization from the World Health Organization to distribute the vaccine in low-income countries and prepare regulatory submissions to authorities in countries that have early-approval programs.
FDA Authorizes Regeneron’s Covid-19 Antibody Cocktail Drug
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Covid-19 antibody drug was authorized Saturday by U.S. health regulators, the second cleared this month to treat patients who aren’t hospitalized but are at high risk of developing severe disease. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the antibody drug cocktail for use treating mild to moderate Covid-19 patients 12 years of age and older, including people older than 65 years.
Regeneron’s drug combines two lab-made antibodies designed to latch onto the novel coronavirus and prevent it from replicating and hijacking human cells. The treatment is still being tested in clinical trials, after being developed by Regeneron scientists in Tarrytown, N.Y., earlier this year.
In October, it was one of three pharmaceutical treatments given to President Trump for treatment of Covid-19. Mr. Trump later attributed his recovery to Regeneron’s drug. “They gave me Regeneron, and it was like, unbelievable. I felt good immediately,” he said.
The FDA said it authorized the drug’s emergency use, a kind of clearance the agency has been using during the pandemic to speed up access to medicines.
The FDA said its authorization was based on a study of about 800 people. In the study, 3% of subjects taking Regeneron’s drug and who were at high risk of severe disease had to be hospitalized or visit emergency rooms, compared with 9% of patients who received a placebo.
Missed Rent is Piling Up with Struggling Retailers
Eight months into the pandemic, clothing stores, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses find themselves in a $52 billion hole. That’s the total amount of retail rent that’s been missed since April, according to CoStar Group Inc. While some of the overhang has since been paid back, the remainder will be a drag on merchants as they try to rebuild and landlords demand their money. In some cases, the unpaid balances could drive them into bankruptcy.
Overdue rent compounds the problems these companies have faced this year, including lost sales during shutdowns, consumers’ reluctance to return to stores and restaurants and the long-running migration of shoppers from brick-and-mortar locations to online venues.
Many of these unpaid bills won’t go away, but are instead being pushed into next year. CoStar estimated missed retail rent, including payments from store chains, restaurants, gyms, and bars, in each month using its own data, industry statistics and landlords’ public reporting. The figures don’t account for any back rent that may have been repaid in subsequent months. In all, retailers paid $146 billion in rent from April to November, CoStar said.
TIAA Real Estate Account, run by the giant Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, said in a Nov. 10 filing it received more than 1,000 requests from tenants for rent relief, primarily among retailers, with most asking for deferrals of less than six months.
So far, the amount of rent collected from retailers climbed from 54% at the end of April to 86% this month, according to CoStar. Malls have fared worse, with only 79% of rent due this month received. That makes the situation critical for landlords, too.
Landlords—and lenders—may be willing to make more accommodations out of court now that there is promising vaccine news, said Jay Indyke, a lawyer who chairs Cooley LLP’s restructuring practice. With a return to normal now in sight, lenders may find it worthwhile to keep supporting retailers instead of letting them liquidate.
“There are certainly some players that are willing to at least convert some of their debt to equity,” Indyke said.
In the meantime, retailers are giving up rights to landlords in exchange for big rent reductions, such as granting landlords the ability to terminate their leases with 90 days’ notice. At the same time, retailers who saw strong online sales in recent months may decide they don’t need all the stores or markets they once wanted.
10 Small Business Saturday® Marketing Tips
There are many ways to make the most of Small Business Saturday® and these 10 tips can help get you started.
- Create a digital storefront
- Email your subscribers
- Schedule a series of social media announcements
- Post offers on Google My Business
- Go old-school with flyers or mailers
- Offer a special discount or promotion
- Collaborate with other nearby businesses
- Contact your local business association or Chamber of Commerce
- Follow best practices for a safe environment
- Create blog posts targeting keywords
Program Notices & Reminders
Village of Shorewood Announces CARES Small Business Relief Program
The goal of the Shorewood CARES Small Business Relief Program (“Program”) is to provide financial support for the most impacted Shorewood small businesses in order to support their continued success as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic into 2021. Providing a monthly reimbursement for payroll and rent/mortgage (two of the most expensive operating costs) through this Program will ensure that business owners are not only able to keep the business open but also to focus on the future of their business. This Program coupled with the 2021 Business Fee Waivers are intended to encourage business owners to look to the future and set the stage for a successful new year.
Learn more about the program by clicking here – http://vil.shorewood.il.us/business/COVID-19/shorewood_cares.aspx
ComEd Bill Assistance
Small-business customers can visit ComEd.com/SmallBizAssistance or call 1-877-4-COMED-1 (1-877-426-6331) to learn more or apply for the Small Business Assistance Program.
ComEd’s bill-assistance programs also include flexible payment options for residents, financial assistance for past-due balances and usage alerts for current bills. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty with their electric bill should call ComEd immediately at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON-1), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to learn more and enroll in a program.
Business Interruption Grant
Funds still remain and the program is still open for application. Please visit:
Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are still available to Illinois small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private nonprofit organizations.
The SBA has opened a Virtual Business Recovery Center to apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at https://DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/. Business owners and residents should contact the SBA Customer Service Representatives at
(800) 659-2955 for assistance in completing their applications. Requests for SBA disaster loan program information may be obtained by emailing FOCE-Help@sba.gov.
SBDC at JJC Update
Here is a list of upcoming programs delivered from the Small Business Development Center through Joliet Junior College:
Selling for Non-Salespeople
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM (CST)
Is your B2B product or service really awesome – BUT – you aren’t confident in your ability to sell it? Most of us feel like introverts at times, but you can join us for a simple session to act like an extrovert. Hear tips on how to do the prospecting, presenting, and closing to help you get new customers to say YES! Join Mike Wilczynski for the no-cost webinar. https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/33654
E-Commerce Webinar – Third Party Platforms to Sell Your Product
Time: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM (CST)
E-commerce – Third Party Platforms to Sell Your Product Louis Kreppert has sold over $500,000 of product using platforms like Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and Google Merchant. Learn how to sell your products where the eyeballs are – without paying for advertising. https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/33413
Funding Your Business
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (CST)
Funding your business is critical for start-ups as well as companies who are looking to expand. Establishing business credit is the first step. Get a basic understanding of what banks look for to qualify for a loan from Nancy Kuzma of Old Plank Trail Community Bank/Wintrust Community Bank. https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/33653
Video Marketing for Small Business
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (CST)
Video production once meant bringing in a full production crew to produce a television commercial. Now, a child can produce a quality video on their phone. And that video is a very important component to your website, social media pages, product information, as well as your local advertising. Learn the benefits of video marketing and hear from Mike Puglitsch at Acclaim Media about how easy the process can be. https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/33572
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM (CST)
A website is more than just a placeholder to occupy property in cyberspace. Your website should be the central point that your social media, SEO, email marketing, pay per click ads, content, CRM…. orbit around to generate business for your business. Join Jason McCoy from WSI to discuss how to develop a website that meets your needs. https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/33652
21 Topics in 21 Minutes for 2021 Growth
Date: Scheduled one-on-one session
In less than 30 minutes, the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Joliet Junior College 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 SBDC@JJC.edu and we will send you a link for registration.
Business Services Webinar from the Workforce Center of Will County
Join this Webinar to learn how the Workforce Center can assist your business with resources you need to find, hire, and retain hard-working employees.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
To register for the webinar please click on the link below:
Finally, we will host our next Virtual Conference on Thursday, December 10th.
Town Hall Meeting – A follow up on the last 6 months
Please join the Joliet Chamber for an interactive virtual conference with community leaders from various business sectors including education, healthcare, and governmental affairs, for a follow-up conversation to the last Town Hall Meeting.
Panel of Speakers will include Dr. Arvid Johnson from the University of St. Francis, Ruth Colby from Silver Cross Hospital, Sue Olenek from the Will County Health Department, Barry Kolanowski from Senior Services Center, and Mike Paone from the Joliet Chamber. Here is the link to register: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2020-webinar-december-10-town-hall-meeting-5978
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry