Please excuse the length of this email as we have a good amount of information to share before taking a break on updates until next Monday. No worries, those locked in on the weekly job report every Thursday will get their fix today.
See below for some more economy info, vaccine updates, and even some business tips for those looking to jump on one of the latest social media trends. Finally, in case you missed the email yesterday regarding a call to action, the link and recap is below on a concerning issue with PPP deductibility.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Tell Congress to Make PPP Loans Deductible – Call to Action
The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, or PPP, was passed in order to provide small businesses across the United States crucial relief during widespread government shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans can be forgivable when proceeds are used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. Congressional leaders intended for PPP funded expenses to be deductible like other business expenses.
Despite the intent of Congressional leaders, additional legislation is needed to make PPP funds used to pay business expenses deductible. The failure to allow these deductions will have a devastating impact on small businesses struggling to keep their doors open and retain their employees.
Are you a small business owner who thought salary and expenses paid by PPP loans would be deductible? In partnership with the Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC), we’re asking you to please contact your Congressional leaders and ask them to sponsor and strongly advocate for legislation that makes salary and other businesses expenses paid for by a PPP loan deductible!
You can contact your Senators and House Representative here: https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=10057
See below for two articles for further information / aid on PPP forgiveness and deductibility
7 Resources for PPP Loan Forgiveness Help
Will You Owe Taxes on Your Paycheck Protection Loan?
U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain. The Labor Department’s report Wednesday said that jobless claims climbed from 748,000 the week before.
The total number of people who are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits dropped to 6.1 million from 6.4 million the previous week. That figure has been declining for months. It shows that more Americans are finding jobs and no longer receiving unemployment aid. But it also indicates that many jobless people have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months.
More Americans are collecting benefits under programs that were set up to cushion the economic pain from the pandemic. For the week of Nov. 7, the number of people collecting benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — which offers coverage to gig workers and others who don’t qualify for traditional aid — rose by 466,000 to 9.1 million.
And the number of people receiving aid under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program — which offers 13 weeks of federal benefits to those who have exhausted state jobless aid — rose by 132,000 to 4.5 million. All told, nearly 20.5 million people are receiving some type of unemployment aid.
Claims haven’t risen for two consecutive weeks since July, but unemployment filings can be more volatile around the holidays, due to workweek changes that can cause seasonal-adjustment anomalies. Increases in jobless claims were widespread across states. Some of the states with sharp increases in virus cases, including Minnesota, Ohio, and Illinois, saw a large rise in claims last week.
U.S. Economy Gets Boost as Americans Spend More
The U.S. economy is heading into the holidays continuing to recover, in large part because Americans continue to boost their spending, particularly on goods.
Many reports Wednesday will offer clues about the economy’s path this winter. These include Commerce Department data expected to show that consumer spending rose in October for the sixth straight month, while household income declined because of the fading effects of government aid programs, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
Consumer spending appears to have increased more slowly recently after strongly rebounding this summer. But it has been good enough to help fuel economic growth since the sharp recession this past spring, when the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of businesses, schools and government agencies across the U.S. to shut down or limit their activities. Consumer spending represents more than two-thirds of economic activity in the U.S.
Americans appear to be gradually increasing their spending. While they aren’t spending on airfares, hotel rooms or concerts, they have increased spending on cars, appliances and building materials for home projects. U.S. households overall have paid down debt and boosted their savings, which could help enable them to keep shopping in the near term.
6.4 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Expected to be Shipped to States by mid-December
States will begin receiving the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December, but will make their own determinations on who will be first in line for a shot.
An estimated 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be distributed to states and territories by mid-December, assuming it receives Food and Drug Administration authorization by that point, Operation Warp Speed officials told reporters Tuesday.
State officials were notified Friday how many doses they should expect to receive in the initial distribution, and they will make their own decisions about who will be prioritized for the first doses.
Still, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday the agency is working on recommendations for prioritization, and he suggested health care workers, people living in nursing homes and other vulnerable people should be first in line.
“[Governors] will decide whom the vaccine is given to. We hope that our recommendations will carry weight with them but at the end of the day they will make that decision,” Azar told reporters.
Officials still expect 40 million vaccine doses will be ready by the end of the year.
But … Illinois to Get (a lot) Fewer Vaccine Doses than Originally Thought
Illinois will get far fewer initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine than originally thought, the state’s top health official said Tuesday. Rather than the 400,000 doses Illinois expected to receive pending FDA approval of one or more vaccines, the state is now only expected to receive 80,000 doses, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“Even if everything goes through smoothly in the next couple of weeks and vaccine is shipped, there won’t be many doses,” Ezike said. “All of these numbers are constantly in flux, so we are staying very nimble to be able to adjust as the feds give us more information.” Ezike did not give a reason why Illinois is expected to receive substantially fewer doses of the vaccine.
Governor Pritzker said the process hasn’t always been straightforward. “There’s a level of complexity here,” he said. “We’re coordinating with the CDC which has been changing its recommendations along the way, which is fine. We want to make sure we’ve got their expertise. There’s a level of complexity because the vaccines aren’t all going to be the same.”
Appropriators Strike Deal to Avoid December Shutdown
Top House and Senate appropriators on Tuesday clinched a deal on a bipartisan set of funding levels, paving the way for a $1.4 trillion spending package to avert a government shutdown next month.
The agreement on the funding allocations, confirmed by a House Democratic aide, establishes overall totals for 12 appropriations measures that will be rolled into one massive omnibus bill that would boost federal budgets for the rest of the fiscal year. Negotiators plan to keep the numbers — known as 302(b)s — under wraps until a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus is finalized, the aide said.
The deal comes at a time with little margin for error. After the Thanksgiving break, both chambers will have just two weeks to flesh out the finer points of the 12-bill spending package and pass the legislation in order to avoid a government shutdown by the Dec. 11 deadline.
Appropriators and staff have worked for days to resolve a number of outstanding issues between the two sets of figures, including how to classify veterans’ health care spending, funding for nuclear cleanup and state unemployment costs as joblessness remains high during the pandemic, according to aides close to the talks.
It’s unclear whether any stimulus measures will accompany the government funding package. Top Senate Republicans have signaled that the White House will sign off on an omnibus, rather than another continuing resolution that would keep federal funding flat while avoiding a shutdown. But officials’ assurances as to what President Donald Trump will ultimately support have been somewhat vague.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Capitol Hill last week that he can’t “guarantee” a government shutdown is off the table, but “it’s a high priority to make sure we keep our government funded.”
How to Get Your Business Started on TikTok
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce declined to enforce a ban on TikTok. So as long as the social networking service continues to operate in the U.S, your business should be using it.
Short videos on TikTok enable small brands to garner a wealth of eyeballs inexpensively, without amassing a huge follower count first, say Nick Eischens and Jason Alvarez-Cohen, the founders of Los Angeles-based Popl. They should know: In February, they posted a 13-second video of someone using their product that landed 10 million views within two days.
The hype cleaned out an early run of Popls — stick-on, coin-size devices that allow you to share contact information between phones just by tapping them together — stored in their apartment. The video eventually climbed to nearly 80 million views. “Think about how much brands would pay for 80 million views on other platforms. And we did it for free,” says Alvarez-Cohen.
Here’s how to make TikToks for your business, distribute them to drive followers, and take advantage of the platform’s business tools.
Unless you want to pay an influencer, you’ll need to make your own videos. Step one: Get used to feeling exposed. On TikTok, you “have to be a little more open to showing the good, the bad, the ugly of your business,” says Tyler Farnsworth, founder of influencer marketing firm August United.
Next, draft a list of topics that you plan to address on your account, advises Keenya Kelly, an entrepreneur who has nearly 200,000 TikTok followers. Topics correspond to hashtags you will use in captions in your videos, so the greater the variety, the more users you can reach.
TikTok initially designates all new accounts as personal. While it’s simple to change to “pro” in the settings to access more analytics tools, it’s best to wait until you build up a fair number of followers and views. Pro accounts can be “business” or a “creator.” (Creator accounts tend to be used by influencers.) Pro accounts are also limited to a smaller selection of commercially licensed songs. With a personal account, you have access to all of the trending music on TikTok, which makes it easier to create videos and can help them perform better, Ginn says.
You should also watch others’ videos for inspiration. At first, Kelly warns, you might see a lot of “twerking teenagers.” When you see content you are not interested in, hold down your thumb on a video to bring up the “not interested” button, and search for hashtags that might be relevant to your brand.
Making your first TikToks
Forget about how you create content for Instagram and Facebook. “Realness wins on TikTok, whereas Instagram is this perfected, really highly polished look,” Ginn says. To that end, ditch the fancy equipment: Raitis Puriņš, head of marketing at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Printful, says the company’s TikToks started performing better when it used smartphones to record them.
To start off, identify the video formats that are trending that week by scanning popular videos on the “discover” page. You can find trending sounds as well when you click “add sound” to a video and navigate to the playlist “TikTok Viral.” Then, add your brand’s spin. “It’s about showing that desire to be part of the club,” says Rich Henne, co-founder of mission-driven sweatshirt brand Ivory Ella. On Ivory Ella’s account, people dance to TikTok trends, like the Renegade, in company-branded sweatshirts.
If you don’t want to dance, people also love videos that have “Today I learned … ” opens or ones with education or utility, advises Farnsworth. Liv Portillo, a 19-year-old entrepreneur and TikToker of DBL Jewelry, found her strategy in making videos about the day-to-day work of being a small-business owner. The important point is to keep experimenting.
Making the most of your content
Once you have some good videos, post them multiple times, Eischens and Alvarez-Cohen advise. One of their earlier popular TikToks didn’t go viral until they had posted it four times. Then, to really drum up followers, Kelly advises, post at least four videos a day, even if they are as short as five seconds. In captions, use four to six hashtags, and choose some that have fewer than two million views so people can find your video more easily.
While you can add clickable links in your bio to your company’s website with a pro “business” account, that’s not the case for personal accounts. Kelly suggests that while you’re still keeping a personal account, just ask viewers to send you a message to get the link. By increasing awareness of your brand, your TikTok account also can drive people to your Instagram or Facebook page, where your links might be more accessible, she adds. And when your TikToks begin to gain views, post them on Instagram as well, according to Noriko Roy, another co-founder of Digital New Age.
Taking full advantage
TikTok offers free advertising credits on its self-serve ad platform as part of its “back to business” pandemic recovery package. Are they worth it? Puriņš says Printful is spending 10 to 20 times less for the same reach as it gets from Instagram and Facebook. But the increased brand awareness hasn’t resulted in conversions, at least directly: Out of 52,000 website views and 3,500 design uploads from a five-week ad campaign, only 14 people purchased a product directly from TikTok, he says.
If you want to skip the process of developing content and running ads, you could message an influencer directly to post about your brand. Or you can register for the TikTok Creator Marketplace to find influencers to create content for your account or for ad campaigns. The tool, compared with similar ones on Facebook and Instagram, is pretty high-quality, says Farnsworth.
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:
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