Chamber Members:

A good amount of action transpired over the weekend. First, Congress voted on Friday evening to pass another Continuing Resolution through the end of the day on Sunday so that they could continue the discussion on a relief package and government funding. That deadline came and had to be extended until tonight at midnight.

The good news is it was necessary because they FINALLY came to a compromise on the relief package language on Sunday and needed the extra day to release the full text and set up a vote on Monday. So, here we are on December 21st four days before the Christmas break with the long sought-after relief package that will at the very least cover a majority of the topics we’ve been talking about for months.

Full information is below along with a few other pieces of information and updates. Apologies for the amount of text here, but there was a lot announced.

Make sure to check out the pdf attachments to this message as well. Here is an invite to a virtual conference tomorrow taking place at 1 pm to learn more about the release of information:

Please join U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley and CO— content director Jeanette Mulvey TOMORROW, December 22, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET for a Small Business Update to hear the latest about what the pandemic relief bill could mean for the small business community. Click here to register now!

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

PPP Reauthorized 
This is probably the most waited for piece of information that most of our members have been waiting for, so we’ll start off with the details on a second round, deductibility, and forgiveness. Additionally, 501c6 organizations have finally been included, live event venues get special attention, and even the restaurant industry will get a slight bump.

Here are the specifics:
Additional Eligible Expenses
• Makes the following expenses allowable and forgivable uses for Paycheck Protection Program funds:
o Covered operations expenditures. Payment for any software, cloud computing, and other human resources and accounting needs.
o Covered property damage costs. Costs related to property damage due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020 that are not covered by insurance.
o Covered supplier costs. Expenditures to a supplier pursuant to a contract, purchase order, or order for goods in effect prior to taking out the loan that are essential to the recipient’s operations at the time at which the expenditure was made. Supplier costs of perishable goods can be made before or during the life of the loan.
o Covered worker protection expenditure. Personal protective equipment and adaptive investments to help a loan recipient comply with federal health and safety guidelines or any equivalent State and local guidance related to COVID-19 during the period between March 1, 2020, and the end of the national emergency declaration.
• Allows loans made under PPP before, on, or after the enactment of this act to be eligible to utilize the expanded forgivable expenses except for borrowers who have already had their loans forgiven.

Selection of Covered Period for Forgiveness
• Allows the borrower to elect a covered period ending at the point of the borrower’s choosing between 8 and 24 weeks after origination.

Simplified Application
• Creates a simplified application process for loans under $150,000 such that:
o A borrower shall receive forgiveness if a borrower signs and submits to the lender a certification that is not more than one page in length, includes a description of the number of employees the borrower was able to retain because of the covered loan, the estimated total amount of the loan spent on payroll costs, and the total loan amount. The borrower must also attest that the borrower accurately provided the required certification and complied with Paycheck Protection Program loan 2 requirements. The SBA must establish this form within 24 days of enactment and may not require additional materials unless necessary to substantiate revenue loss requirements or satisfy relevant statutory or regulatory requirements. Additionally, borrowers are required to retain relevant records related to employment for four years and other records for three years. The Administrator may
review and audit these loans to ensure against fraud.
o Applies to loans made before, on, or after the date of enactment, including the forgiveness of the loan.

Specific Group Insurance Payments as Payroll Costs
• Clarifies that other employer-provided group insurance benefits are included in payroll costs. This
includes group life, disability, vision, or dental insurance.
• Applies to loans made before, on, or after the date of enactment, including the forgiveness of the loan.

Demographic Information
• Requires the SBA to include a voluntary demographic information section on the loan origination application for initial PPP loans and second draw PPP loans. All PPP loan applications after enactment must include this section.

Clarification of and Additional Limitations on Eligibility
• Clarifies that a business or organization that was not in operation on February 15, 2020 shall not be eligible for an initial PPP loan and a second draw PPP loan.
• Prohibits eligible entities that receive a grant under the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants from obtaining a PPP loan.

Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans
• Creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, called a “PPP second draw” loan for smaller and harder-hit businesses, with a maximum amount of $2 million.
• Eligibility. To receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan under this section, eligible entities must:
o Employ not more than 300 employees;
o Have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP; and
o Demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter. Provides applicable timelines for businesses that were not in operation in Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 of 2019. Applications submitted on or after January 1, 2021 are eligible to utilize the gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020.
• Eligible entities must be businesses, certain non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives.

Loan terms
In general, borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5X the average monthly payroll
costs in the one year prior to the loan or the calendar year. No loan can be greater than $2 million.
o Seasonal employers may calculate their maximum loan amount based on a 12-week period
beginning February 15, 2019 through February 15, 2020.
o New entities may receive loans of up to 2.5X the sum of their average monthly payroll costs.
o Entities in industries assigned to NAICS code 72 (Accommodations and Food Services) may receive loans of up to 3.5X average monthly payroll costs.
o Businesses with multiple locations that are eligible entities under the initial PPP requirements
may employ not more than 300 employees per physical location.
o Waiver of affiliation rules that applied during initial PPP loans apply to a second loan.
o An eligible entity may only receive one PPP second draw loan.
o Fees are waived for both borrowers and lenders to encourage participation.
o For loans of not more than $150,000, the entity may submit a certification attesting that the
entity meets the revenue loss requirements on or before the date the entity submits their loan
forgiveness application and non-profit and veterans organizations may utilize gross receipts to
calculate their revenue loss standard.
• Loan forgiveness. Borrowers of a PPP second draw loan would be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the sum of their payroll costs, as well as covered mortgage, rent, and utility payments, covered operations expenditures, covered property damage costs, covered supplier costs, and covered worker protection expenditures incurred during the covered period. The 60/40 cost allocation between payroll and nonpayroll costs to receive full forgiveness will continue to apply.
• Application of Exemption Based on Employee. Extends existing safe harbors on restoring FTE and salaries and wages. Specifically, applies the rule of reducing loan forgiveness for the borrower reducing the number of employees retained and reducing employees’ salaries in excess of 25 percent. Allows the SBA and Treasury Department to jointly modify any date in section 7A(d) consistent with the purposes of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Commitment Authority and Appropriations
• Extends the time of the program to March 31, 2021.

o $15 billion for PPP loans (initial and second draw) issued by community financial
institutions, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and
minority depository intuitions (MDIs);
o $15 billion for PPP loans (initial and second draw) issued by certain small
depository institutions.

o $35 billion for first-time borrowers, $15 billion of which for smaller, first-time
borrowers with 10 or fewer employees, or loans less than $250,000 in low income
o $25 billion for second draw PPP loans for smaller borrowers with 10 or fewer
employees, or loans less than $250,000 in low-income areas

$25 million for the Minority Business Development Centers program under the Minority Business
Development Agency (MBDA)

Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators
• Authorizes $15 billion for the SBA to make grants to eligible live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, or talent representatives who demonstrate a 25 percent reduction in revenues.
• There is a set-aside of $2 billion for eligible entities that employ not more than 50 full-time employees, and any amounts from this set-aside remaining after sixty days from the date of implementation of this
program shall become available to all eligible applicants under this section.
• The SBA may make an initial grant of up to $10 million dollars to an eligible person or entity and a supplemental grant that is equal to 50 percent of the initial grant.
• In the initial 14-day period of implementation of the program, grants shall only be awarded to eligible entities that have faced 90 percent or greater revenue loss. In the 14-day period following the initial 14- day period, grants shall only be awarded to eligible entities that have faced 70 percent or greater revenue loss. After these two periods, grants shall be awarded to all other eligible entities.
• Such grants shall be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.

Targeted EIDL Advance for Small Business Continuity, Adaptation, and Resiliency
• Provides additional targeted funding for eligible entities located in low-income communities through the EIDL Advance program from Section 1110 of the CARES Act.
• Makes entities in low-income communities that received an EIDL Advance under Section 1110 of the CARES Act eligible to receive an amount equal to the difference of what the entity received under the CARES Act and $10,000.
• Provides $10,000 grants to eligible applicants in low-income communities that did not secure grants because funding had run out.

Emergency EIDL Grants
• Extends covered period for Emergency EIDL grants through December 31, 2021.
• Allows more flexibility for the SBA to verify that Emergency EIDL grant applicants have submitted accurate information.
• Extends time for SBA to approve and disburse Emergency EIDL grants from 3 to 21 days.
Section 33: Repeal of EIDL Advance Deduction.
• Repeals section 1110(e)(6) of the CARES Act, which requires PPP borrowers to deduct the amount of their EIDL advance from their PPP forgiveness amount
• Establishes the Sense of Congress that EIDL Advance borrowers should be made whole without regard to whether those borrowers are eligible for PPP forgiveness.
• The Administrator shall issue rules that ensure borrowers are made whole if they received forgiveness and their EIDL was deducted from that amount.

501(c)(6) organizations are eligible to receive a PPP loan provided:
They are not a professional sports league or organized for the purpose of promoting or participating in a political campaign (Note: this will not impact chambers of commerce or trade associations);
They do not employ more than 300 employees;
They do not receive more than 15% of their receipts from lobbying activities;
Lobbying activities do not compromise more than 15% of the organization’s total activities; and
The cost of the lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020.
If an organization fails any of these tests they are NOT eligible to receive a PPP loan.

Similar rules apply to Destination Marketing Organizations.

Lobbying activities are not defined in the section. The Small Business Administration may provide a definition or guidance. Congressional staff have used information available in the 990 tax form when discussing the impact of the 15% lobbying activities limitation.  Specifically, staff have compared the lobbying expenses reported on schedule C, Part III-B, Line 2 with the total expenses reported for the year (Page 1, line 18).  (Note that these lines may be different if you are using a 990 form vs. 990EZ.)

Additional Pandemic Relief Bill Text Highlights and Government Funding 
Congress today unveiled a $2.3 trillion spending package it is expected to approve in a matter of hours that provides relief to a coronavirus-battered economy while funding the government through the end of the fiscal year.

The package includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill based on a 2019 deal and included $740.5 billion in defense spending and $664.5 billion in domestic spending. It also includes a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill.

The spending bill weighed Democratic priorities approved in the House and GOP priorities only released by the Senate last month amid infighting. The final text was made public for the first time on Monday, giving little time for Congress, advocacy groups, or constituents to see the final text before the expected vote alongside the COVID-19 relief bill. Problems with uploading and printing the 5,593-page bill delayed its release further.

The combined $2.3 trillion package is among the largest ever passed in Congress, coming in just ahead of March’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

The overall cost of the bill, which also included several sections authorizing new programs, could ultimately be higher.

While the COVID-19 relief bill focused on extending unemployment, providing stimulus checks, and boosting small businesses, the omnibus focused on a broader set of policy issues. It included 3 percent pay raises for the military and a 1 percent pay raise for the civilian federal workforce.

It included $1.375 billion for President Trump’s border wall, an issue that has become a central obstacle in passing spending legislation under Trump’s watch. That is the same amount approved last year, though President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to use billions in emergency defense funds to bolster the project, as Trump has.

Here are some highlighted areas of the relief package:

Stimulus checks
One of the key elements of the bill is a second round of direct payments to Americans. The payments will be up to $600 per adult and per child. The amount per adult is half the $1,200 payments that were provided under the CARES Act enacted in March, but the amount per child is slightly larger than the $500 allowed under that law.

Unemployment benefits
Two expiring CARES Act programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which made benefits available to the self-employed and gig economy workers, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provided additional weeks of benefits, were extended for 11 weeks, averting a fiscal crisis for millions of Americans.

That timeline will set another key deadline to stop the programs from expiring in early March. In addition, Congress will add $300 to all weekly unemployment benefits, half the amount that supplemented benefits from April through July. Workers who rely on multiple jobs and have lost income will also be eligible for a weekly $100 boost as well.

Housing assistance
The bill extends the eviction moratorium that is set to expire at the end of the year through the end of January.

The legislation includes $25 billion for rental assistance to families facing eviction. It’s the same amount proposed by a compromise $908 billion relief proposal introduced by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in early December. Eligible renters would be able to receive assistance with rent and utility payments, and bills that have accumulated since the start of the pandemic, by applying with entities that state and local grantees chose to administer the program.

Additionally, the bill includes an enhancement of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to increase the supply for affordable housing construction.

The bill includes several provisions relating to elementary, secondary, and higher education. It would provide $82 billion of funds for schools and colleges to help them reopen classrooms and prevent virus transmission.

It also includes an expansion of Pell Grants. A summary from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that the expansion would allow 500,000 people to become new recipients of the grants and 1.5 million students to get the maximum benefit.

The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing and $20 billion in extra federal relief for health care providers.

Negotiators provided $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for another round of support for airlines, airline employees and contractors, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for highways, $2 billion for intercity buses, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.

Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, said the money would keep New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority running.

Surprise medical bills
The legislation includes provisions to end the practice of surprise medical billing. It would hold patients harmless from surprise bills, including from air ambulance providers and prohibit out-of-network providers from “balance billing” unless they give patients 72-hour notice of their network status and an estimate of the charges.

Tax provisions
There are a host of tax provisions in the bill, targeted both at individuals and businesses. The bill would allow taxpayers to use their 2019 income for purposes of claiming the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, two credits that benefit low- and middle-income households. This will allow households where people lost jobs or income in 2020 to be eligible for credits or receive larger credits, because the credit amounts phase in with income.

It would boost the tax deductibility of business meals for two years, a priority for Trump. The provision would also extend and enhance the employee retention tax credit, a payroll tax credit aimed at encouraging businesses to hold on to their workers.

Airlines: Tens of thousands of airline employees would get their jobs back, at least for a few months, under the new bill, which includes $15 billion to cover airline salaries and benefits through the end of March. The bill also includes $1 billion for airline contractor payrolls.

Entertainment Venues: The bill has $15 billion for independent movie theaters, live entertainment venues and cultural institutions.

Farms: The U.S. agriculture sector is set for another multibillion-dollar injection in the new relief bill, which directs $13 billion to crop farmers, cattle ranchers, and rural communities.

Banks: The bill would provide $12 billion in support to small lenders focused on low-income and minority communities, buttressing minority-owned banks and firms known as community financial development institutions.

Timeline of Relief / Government Shutdown
Here are how things went down in order to give the full picture of how we arrived at today’s vote:

Friday Stopgap Bill 
The House on Friday passed a two-day, stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown and provide negotiators additional time to iron out details on a larger funding and COVID-19 relief package.

Both parties are still feverishly negotiating a long-stalled coronavirus relief package but acknowledged that they needed more time to iron out remaining sticking points.

The House passed the continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 320-60. House Democrats unveiled the measure to keep the government open through Sunday less than eight hours before current funding expires at midnight.

The legislation, which passed the Senate in a voice vote, extends the government funding deadline from Dec. 18 to the end of Dec. 20, giving negotiators more time to finish a sweeping deal to provide year-end coronavirus relief and fund the government through Oct. 1.

The House already passed the two-day continuing resolution (CR), with the Senate soon following suit and sending it to President Trump for a signature. He signed the stopgap bill just after 10 p.m., according to the White House, averting a temporary, middle-of-the-night lapse in government funding.

Saturday Language Agreement on Fed Authority
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) reached an agreement late Saturday night on language to curtail the Federal Reserve’s special lending authorities, setting the stage for passage of a coronavirus relief deal and an omnibus spending package as early as Sunday.

At around 9 p.m. Republicans sent word to Schumer that they would accept language resolving the dispute over the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities, according to GOP aides. The compromise will sweep out the $429 billion in unspent CARES Act funding for the Federal Reserve’s credit lending facilities and repurpose it as an offset for a new $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, GOP sources said.

The deal will close four Federal Reserve credit lending facilities created by the CARES Act and will prevent the Fed from standing up replica facilities in the future without congressional approval. Those four programs are the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Main Street Lending Program, and the Municipal Credit Facility.

The Fed will retain more flexibility over restarting the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, which will be closed but can be restarted in the future.

Congress Passes One-day Stopgap on Sunday
The Senate passed a one-day stopgap bill on Sunday night hours after congressional leaders announced they had reached an agreement on a sweeping deal to fund the government and provide long-stalled coronavirus relief.

The one-day bill passed the House earlier in the evening. The White House announced just before the midnight deadline that President Trump signed the stopgap measure, funding the government for the next 24 hours.

It’s the fourth continuing resolution (CR) Congress has needed this year after initially using a stopgap to fund the government from Oct. 1 to Dec. 11. They then used a second CR to extend it until Dec. 18 and a third to extend it further until the end of Sunday.

The need for a one-day CR comes as the House is expected to vote on the roughly $2.3 trillion deal, which includes $900 billion for coronavirus relief and $1.4 trillion to fund the government, on Monday.

Details Yet to Emerge on Sunday Evening
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Sunday evening that negotiators had finalized a $900 billion coronavirus aid package, after breaking a multi-day stalemate over the Federal Reserve’s lending powers.

But with legislative text still yet to be released, a House vote on final passage has slipped to Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer informed House Democrats on a private conference call. The Senate is expected to take up the bill quickly afterward, though McConnell declined to offer a timeline.

And on Monday, the House will consider a week-long spending patch to buy time for the Senate to pass the relief deal — and for the federal government to print it and finalize it for President Donald Trump’s signature. The $900 billion package will ride alongside a bill to fund the government through next September.

“We need to be able to read it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) of the massive rescue and spending package. “You’re literally voting on something no one has read right at that point. So, yeah, I’m not a fan of that.”

FDA Greenlights Moderna Vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday cleared the nation’s second coronavirus vaccine, giving additional hope that the end of the pandemic could be in sight. The official emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine comes after an agency advisory panel voted 20-0 in favor of the vaccine Thursday.

The authorization now allows the Trump administration to begin shipping nearly 6 million doses of the vaccine across the country.

Moderna’s vaccine is anticipated to create fewer logistical challenges, as it does not require the same ultra-cold storage as Pfizer’s vaccine. It can remain stable for up to 30 days at the same temperature as a standard freezer.

Unlike Pfizer, Moderna’s vaccine was developed with significant federal financial support. The administration’s Operation Warp Speed has invested $4.1 billion into the vaccine’s development and distribution, and the National Institutes of Health helped run clinical trials for the company.

Moderna has also contracted the federal government directly to run the distribution, so the administration will have more control over the logistics than it has with Pfizer. The government has contracted with McKesson, one of the world’s largest wholesale drug distributors, for vaccine distribution. The vaccine will be shipped from the manufacturer to McKesson distribution sites, and then will be sent out to the 64 different jurisdictions that will receive doses. That approach contrasts with Pfizer, which because of the cold storage requirements, ships its vaccines directly to hospitals and health centers.

The Trump administration signed a deal last summer to deliver a total of 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first quarter of 2021. Earlier this month, Warp Speed officials announced that the administration had purchased another 100 million doses from Moderna for the second quarter.

CDC Panel Recommends Next Step for Covid-19 Vaccines 
A federal advisory panel recommended Sunday that both the nation’s oldest, most vulnerable people and front-line essential workers be offered the next place in line for Covid-19 vaccines, hoping to use limited vaccine supplies in early 2021 both to reduce hospitalizations and deaths and slow transmission of the virus.

This next group would include people ages 75 and older, whose hospitalization and death rates are the highest of all age groups. It would also include teachers, factory workers, police and firefighters, grocery store workers and others who are considered essential to the functioning of the economy and at high risk of exposure to Covid-19.

A third group would follow them, comprised of people between the ages of 65 and 74, anyone age 16 or over with a medical condition that puts them at high risk of complications from Covid-19, and other essential workers. They include people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, water and wastewater, and energy sectors.

The recommendations were made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which voted 13-1 in favor. The ACIP advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on who should get vaccines and how they should be used. If the recommendation is accepted by the director, then these groups will be offered vaccine after front-line health-care workers and nursing home residents who are being vaccinated now.

The decision to include the oldest people in the next priority group marks a shift for the ACIP, which last month considered giving priority to essential workers over the oldest generations for vaccines in early 2021. That position was based on the argument that, like health-care workers, essential workers are putting their lives on the line to keep the economy and society going.

In addition, many essential workers are older, have high-risk medical conditions, and are from racial and ethnic groups and lower-income populations that have suffered disproportionately high rates of severe illness, according to the CDC.

But some government officials, health experts and members of the public pushed back, arguing that the nation’s priority should be to protect the oldest Americans.

People 75 years of age and older make up 8% of the population but 25% of hospitalizations and have the highest death rate of all age groups by far, according to the CDC. Their rates of hospitalization have also been climbing more rapidly in recent weeks than other age groups, the agency said.

Governor Pritzker Announced Over $1.3 Billion in COVID-19 Funding Awarded
Governor Pritzker announced the administration has provided over $1.3 billion in funding this year for businesses and families through COVID-19 emergency assistance programs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has so far overseen the distribution of $214 million in funding to over 7,500 small businesses through the Business Interruption Grants program, with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) providing more than $269 million in funding to 4,987 childcare providers through the same program.

DCEO also oversees the Help for Illinois Families Initiative which includes programs that offer energy assistance to Illinois residents in need as well as emergency assistance for rent, temporary shelter, and other necessities. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has provided $325 million in emergency rental and mortgage assistance to 54,500 families.

Help for Illinois Families Program
DCEO has provided $93 million in emergency funding to more than 155,000 households across the state through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) programs, which are both part of the Help for Illinois Families initiative. Launched by the administration in June, the $275 million initiative was created to assist the growing number of families experiencing economic hardship as a result of COVID-19 by directing additional funding from the federal CARES Act and an expanded eligibility threshold to ensure more families statewide could benefit from assistance on utilities and other basic household bills.

As a result of the Governor’s investments in this program, more than$80 million has been provided to 119,000 households for LIHEAP, with more than$13 million in direct client assistance costs provided to 36,000 households as part of the CSBG program. Funding has been provided to families in all 102 counties statewide, with tens of thousands of new households served so far this program year.

Business Interruption Grants
The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $540 million initiative Governor Pritzker developed in partnership with the Illinois General Assembly to provide economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. BIG is the largest program of its kind in the nation and uses federal CARES Act funds to provide grants to businesses in need. The program devotes $270 million for childcare businesses, and $270 million for all other small businesses demonstrating a significant impact or limited ability to operate during the pandemic.

DCEO, which oversaw the small business portion of the BIG program, recently concluded the second round of applications for grant funding. To date, the department has issued more than $214 million in grants to over 7,500 businesses statewide, using an equity framework to ensure that the hardest hit businesses in the hardest hit geographies would be prioritized for funding. As a result, grants have been deployed to a wide range of businesses representing more than 500 cities across the state, with nearly half of the grants provided to minority owned businesses, $98 million for restaurants and taverns, and nearly $80 million for downstate businesses. Moreover, the program has helped direct funding for the smallest and most vulnerable businesses in the state, with 85 percent committed to the smallest sized businesses, those with revenues of $1 million or less.

DCEO continues to review applications for the program and will make grants weekly over the next several weeks. BIG applicants will be notified if they will receive a grant award by December 30, 2020.

Emergency Housing Assistance
In August, Governor Pritzker and IHDA announced two programs to help renters and homeowners who have lost a job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Emergency Rental Assistance and Emergency Mortgage Assistance Programs, IHDA allocated $325 million to help income-eligible residents across the state pay their rent or mortgage during the pandemic.

Through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA), IHDA offered funding to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Eligible tenants whose applications were approved received a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlord to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020, as well as prepay on payments through this month, or until the $5,000 is exhausted. IHDA received nearly 79,000 applications for the program and assisted 38,000 households with rental payments.

IHDA also aided homeowners who experienced a COVID-19 related loss of income resulting in past due mortgage balances starting in March 2020. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) provided eligible homeowners with up to $25,000 in grants paid directly to their mortgage servicer. The assistance provided covered the homeowner’s past due or forbearance balance and their regular mortgage payments through the end of this month, or until the funding was exhausted. IHDA received more than 18,000 applications and to date have assisted about 9,500 homeowners with $84 million total in grants. Applications for both programs have closed and repayment is not required.

Program Notices & Reminders
Workforce Center of Will County
The WCWC held a business services webinar with the Division of Rehabilitation Services talking about vocational rehab and home services programming last week. Attached to this email is a pdf document of that informative presentation. Also attached is a pdf document that reviews the Will County economy and labor force. You can also access them on our covid resource page.
Webinar Slides
Economic Report

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.

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
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.

Selling for Non-Salespeople
Date: 1/7/21 Time: 2pm
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 by registering at:

Starting Your Business in Illinois
Date: 1/14/21 Time: 9am
Thinking about starting a business in Illinois? This informative workshop helps entrepreneurs understand many of the steps and requirements. In this no-cost overview of Starting Your Business in Illinois, we will touch on many aspects of your business plan, including legal, accounting, banking, marketing, and sales.

Finally, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!

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