Chamber Members:

Some good news today for those stock market watchers – the Dow Jones hit 30,000 for the first time on news that President Trump has instructed aids to begin transition work. It is almost unbelievable that it has traveled this high in a pandemic year when back in March it was tumbling below 19,000.

A little more in-depth information is below on expiring programs if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year. It is extremely disappointing that there doesn’t seem to be any movement of note to date after months of back and forth talks. Hopefully, all of you caught the call to action email that went out earlier regarding PPP deductibility. If not, here is the link covering that ask and also a short apprenticeship survey:

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Federal Aid Follow Up – Expiring Programs
A slew of expiring emergency programs is setting up an economic “COVID cliff” come 2021, which could see millions of people lose unemployment insurance and get evictions, while a growing wave of small businesses close shop.

March’s CARES Act set up myriad programs to give people economic relief in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which are set to expire on Dec. 31. Unless a divided Congress can reach a deal to extend the programs, the country’s economic suffering could skyrocket.

“It’s a lot of risk to be putting on the economy at a time when so many other pressures are already underway,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

If Congress allows the variety of ropes that weave the emergency safety net to snap, struggling Americans are sure to fall through, starting with the millions of people who have lost their jobs and rely on expanded unemployment programs to stay afloat.

“The unemployment insurance is certainly at the top of the list, because that’s going to mean that millions of people who are out of work and relying on a fairly modest unemployment income are going to be entirely without income, and that’s going to be a devastating hit,” said Akabas.

Come New Years, one program that extended traditional unemployment benefits from the standard 26 weeks by another 13 weeks, and another program that made self-employed and gig economy workers eligible, will expire.

A study from the progressive Century Foundation estimated that 12 million people will lose their benefits, though 2.9 million could turn to extended benefit programs in some states. Another 4.5 million will have already worn through those programs’ timelines.

At the same time, provisions meant to shore up tax benefits for low-income earners, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Credit, are scheduled to go up in smoke, potentially pulling money out of the paychecks of the poorest people who are still working. On top of it all, an evictions moratorium from the CDC is set to expire, teeing up a wave of evictions and homelessness.

“We know that eviction filings have been able to continue during this period even with moratoria in place, so certainly the cases are there and ready to be processed and adjudicated,” said Samantha Batko, an expert on housing insecurity at the Urban Institute. “When people get evicted, they don’t have a ton of options of where to go.”

The most recent data from the Census Household Pulse Survey, covering the last days of October and early November, painted a grim picture. Nearly a third of all households (32.9 percent) said they were behind on housing payments and rated the chances of eviction or foreclosure within two months as somewhat or very likely. Some 25.9 percent expected a household earner to lose employer income in the coming month, and 12 percent said they didn’t have enough to eat.

An analysis by Stout found that absent a moratorium, as many as 6.4 million evictions filed in recent months could take effect on Jan. 1. “If those things end and there’s no moratorium, it’s plain as day what’s going to happen. We’re going to see a ton of evictions,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, a group focusing on housing rights.

“It’s unconscionable. It’s like seeing a truck drive at people at 100 miles an hour and deciding not to do anything,” he added. The CDC on its own could extend the moratorium without legislation, but housing advocates say it only applies to a limited slice of renters anyway and requires too much legal heavy lifting on the part of renters.

Forbearance on student loan debt, which has allowed borrowers to channel funds toward other expenses without accruing further interest costs or penalties, will also end when the ball drops in Times Square.

While people with student debt tend to be more financially well off than average, the loans can be crippling for some, particularly those who didn’t graduate or went to for-profit colleges. Even so, an end to forbearance ends will force borrowers to redirect their spending toward the loans instead of spending it on goods and services.

A key point of contention in relief negotiations has been state and local government aid, which studies show provide the best economic bang for stimulus buck spent. Without aid, governments suffering from massive losses of sales and income tax revenues will be forced to pull back spending, meaning reduced services and firing public employees such as teachers. They may also have trouble funding homeless shelters and their alternatives, which have reduced capacity due to the pandemic.

Small businesses face a cliff of their own, as a slew of tax provisions, credits for providing sick leave, and debt easements are set to expire.

Student Loan Losses Seen Costing U.S. More Than $400 Billion
The U.S. government stands to lose more than $400 billion from the federal student loan program, an internal analysis shows, approaching the size of losses incurred by banks during the subprime-mortgage crisis.

The Education Department, with the help of two private consultants, looked at $1.37 trillion in student loans held by the government at the start of the year. Their conclusion: Borrowers will pay back $935 billion in principal and interest. That would leave taxpayers on the hook for $435 billion, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

After decades of no-questions-asked lending, the government is realizing that it has a pile of toxic debt on its books. By comparison, private lenders lost $535 billion on subprime mortgages during the 2008 financial crisis, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The effect this time is different. The government, unlike private lenders, can borrow trillions of dollars at low rates to absorb the losses, without causing a panic. But taxpayers will end up paying a price because Congress will have to raise taxes, cut services, or increase the deficit to cover the losses.

Congressional Democrats have stepped up calls for President-elect Joe Biden to use executive action to forgive student debt. Mr. Biden has reiterated his support for legislation to forgive $10,000 for each borrower with a federal student loan.

The administration of President Trump has opposed wide-scale debt forgiveness. But the government is already effectively forgiving debt through programs known as income-based repayment, which require borrowers to pay only 10% of their discretionary income—defined as adjusted gross income minus 150% the federal poverty line—and then forgive balances after 10, 20 or 25 years.

It is unclear how much debt that is set to be forgiven will be interest instead of principal. Balances typically rise in income-driven repayment because the monthly payments often aren’t big enough to cover interest.

Meanwhile, millions of other borrowers continue to default on smaller amounts—typically under $10,000—after dropping out of community college or for-profit colleges. Still others say they defaulted after being defrauded by their schools and failing to land well-paying jobs in their fields of study.

More Than 212,000 Fraudulent Claims for Unemployment Benefits Filed in Illinois
Fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits are on the rise as record numbers of Illinois residents file for benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed with the state since March 1, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Of those, 169,506 were filed under a federal program created through the federal coronavirus relief package that extended benefits to self-employed and gig workers. The other 42,496 fraudulent claims were filed under the system for regular state benefits.

In cases that involve identity theft, some victims discover the fraud when they receive a letter from the state unemployment agency saying a claim has been filed in their name, or their employer receives a letter. People who have received these letters but have not filed for unemployment should immediately call the agency at 800-814-0513 to flag the case as fraudulent.

The letters include debit cards, which the state sends out to people once they file for benefits. The cards are not preloaded with funds, but the state sends the cards in case people want to have their benefits loaded onto the card rather than deposited into their bank accounts, said Rebecca Cisco, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Scammers are able to obtain the funds by directing the state to send benefits to their own accounts, rather than to the debit cards sent to the victim’s home.

The state has been able to catch most but not all of these fraudulent claims before impostors are able to receive benefits, Cisco said.

Kristin Richards, acting director of the agency, said at a Monday news conference that the agency is working to quantify the number of fraudulent claims that have been paid out. Illinois has paid out more than $17.7 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 1.3 million people from March 1 through the end of October, according to the agency.

Anyone who has been a victim of fraud is not liable for unemployment benefits paid in their name, she said. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said his office has received more than 4,000 calls on unemployment insurance fraud. “Anyone can be targeted. I myself received a phony debit card,” Raoul said.

Experts say fraudsters typically file claims using personal data leaked from past data breaches like the 2017 Equifax breach, which exposed the Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses of up to 143 million Americans. The state’s system for processing unemployment benefits has been inundated with an unprecedented number of claims at the same time the agency implemented the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for the self-employed.

The federal program was vulnerable because typical safeguards the agency uses to weed out fraudulent claims, like sending letters to employers, wasn’t possible with self-employed workers, according to the state.

The sense of urgency to get those funds to millions of unemployed Americans gave fraudsters the perfect opportunity to strike, said Nik Theodore, a professor and labor market researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has studied the unemployment benefits system in Illinois.

Victims should consider putting a freeze on their credit report from the three main credit agencies in order to protect their identities, Theodore said. The state recommends victims not activate the debit card and check their credit report for possible suspicious activity.

5 New Business Books That Will Elevate Your Communication Skills in 2021
Some terrific business books were published this year. If your goal is to improve your communication skills–and let’s face it, everyone has room to improve in this area–these five titles stand out:

1. Making Conversation by Fred Dust.
Fred Dust reveals many of the communication principles he learned as a managing director at legendary design firm, IDEO. For example, great conversationalists are good storytellers. Dust calls stories “illuminations,” which he says should be used by leaders, entrepreneurs, and even job interview candidates to shine a light on their experiences.

A good story has four elements:
It’s short. There’s no need to recount every minute of your life. The story should be short with a purpose.
It evokes emotion. A story should help the listener understand what you felt: joy, sadness, or satisfaction at overcoming a challenge.
It ends. Many people meander when telling a story. Once your story has an insight, end it.
It has a twist. People remember surprises. Make sure your story has an unexpected twist.
Don’t leave communication to chance; design your conversation to achieve your goals.

2. Conscious Leadership by John Mackey.
Mackey is the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods. In his book, Mackey details the steps that took him from a small natural foods store in Austin, to growing a business that Amazon purchased for $14 billion.

Mackey is a big believer in creating a culture based on shared values. “The first and foremost job of every conscious leader is to connect people to purpose,” Mackey writes. The purpose at Whole Foods from day one was to “nourish the people and the planet.”

Mackey says a leader must constantly keep the company’s purpose in front of their teams. Purpose creates alignment. Keep it front and center.

3. Undaunted by Kara Goldin.
Goldin and her husband started Hint Water in their home. Today, their flavored-water company employs 200 people and exceeds $150 million a year in revenue.

Goldin says that investors, partners, and customers are attracted to a compelling origin story. Goldin’s story began with an addiction to Diet Coke. She tried to drink more water. Like many people, however, she grew bored of tasteless water. She added cut-up fruit to pitchers of water and solved her problem. “It’s really important to bring your personal story into the brand identity. People associate the brand with a human being,” Goldin writes.

4. How I Built This by Guy Raz.
Guy Raz agrees with Goldin.

Raz is the host of the popular NPR podcast. How I Built This. In his book by the same name, Raz says a company story connects your business to your customers. When customers understand the story behind a product or a service, they are much more likely to be invested in it as consumers.

A story also connects your company with investors and shareholders. They want to hear a compelling story about how your idea solves a problem that you, and others, face. Storytelling is a powerful, practical skill to develop. Raz and Goldin’s books will help you sharpen your skill.

5. How to Lead by David Rubenstein.
Rubenstein is the billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private investment firms. Rubenstein profiles more than 30 leaders in his book. He says a common quality they all share is the ability to persuade. “It is impossible to lead if no one is following,” says Rubenstein.

There are three ways to persuade people to back your ideas: Through writing, speaking, or actions that set an example to your followers. Each of these three skills takes practice, says Rubenstein. Constant and never-ending improvement will help you elevate your ability to persuade others.

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 –

ComEd Bill Assistance
Small-business customers can visit 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 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

SBDC at JJC Update
Here is a list of upcoming programs delivered from the Small Business Development Center through Joliet Junior College:

E-Commerce Webinar – Third Party Platforms to Sell Your Product
Date: 12/3/20
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.

Funding Your Business
Date: 12/8/20
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.

Video Marketing for Small Business
Date: 12/10/20
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.

Website Development
Date: 12/15/20
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.

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 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:

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