Chamber Members:

Now that our region is fully back to Tier 1 mitigations, we’ll look to keep an eye on the hopefully quick move back to just Phase 4 without mitigations. We urge all to keep pushing the messages of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing so that the positivity rates can continue to decline and allow our economy to open even further with less restrictions.

Thanks to all of those that tuned in today for our Annual Awards & Celebration of Success. Congratulations to all of our nominees and award winners. Special thanks to all of our sponsors for your support.

Make sure you reserve for next week’s PPP & EIDL Information for Businesses virtual conference – Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) First and Second Draw, PPP Forgiveness and EIDL Information for Businesses

Please join the Joliet Chamber along with Bo Steiner, District Director Office of Field Operations for U.S. Small Business Administration and Congressman Bill Foster for a virtual conference about PPP & EIDL updates for businesses.

Points to be addressed:

•           Forgivable Loan for those that adhere to expense rules – 2x average monthly payroll
•           Expanded allowable expenses
•           Easy one page forgiveness form for loans under $150,000
•           Ability to deduct expenses paid with PPP funds
•           Funds are not taxable as income
•           Restaurants and hotels can qualify for 3x average monthly payroll
•           Opportunity for second draw for those who received PPP funds in 2020
•           EIDL/Advance update

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
10:00 a.m. – GoToMeeting Webinar Session
Please check your registration confirmation email for webinar log-in information.
$10.00 per person
Registration is required to attend webinar:

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Restore Illinois Phase 4 Guidelines and Mitigation Measures FAQ’s
The Restore Illinois website has information on each Region’s Tier designation, applicable
mitigation measures, and the Phase 4 guidelines. Below is a link to the document with a series of FAQs intended to provide guidance which are broken up by industry and topic. Some industries have distinctions and mitigation measures in place based on the region’s current Tier assigned by the Illinois Department of Public Health based on the COVID-19 data.

Click here to read the FAQ that was updated on 1/19 from DCEO on what is allowed during each tier of mitigations:

Statewide Unemployment Rate Up, Jobs Nearly Unchanged in December
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate increased +0.7 percentage point to 7.6 percent, while nonfarm payrolls were nearly unchanged, down -2,500 jobs in December, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The November monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report, from -20,000 to -16,200 jobs. The November unemployment rate was unchanged from the preliminary report, holding at 6.9 percent.

The December payroll jobs estimate and unemployment rate reflects activity for the week including the 12th. The BLS has published FAQs for the December payroll jobs and the unemployment rate.

The state’s unemployment rate was +0.9 percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate reported for December, which was 6.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. The Illinois unemployment rate was up +3.9 percentage points from a year ago when it was 3.7 percent.

In December, the three industry sectors with the largest over-the-month gains in employment were: Professional and Business Services (+13,000), Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+10,100), and Construction (+8,300). The industry sectors that reported the monthly payroll declines were: Leisure and Hospitality (-40,900), Information (-1,300), and Other Services (-800).

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment decreased by -423,300 jobs, with losses across nearly all major industries. The industry groups with the largest jobs decreases were: Leisure and Hospitality (-198,100), Educational and Health Services (-58,300) and Government (-48,700). The only industry group with an over-the-year jobs increase was Construction (+1,000). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were down -6.9 percent over-the-year as compared to the nation’s -6.2 percent over-the-year decline in December.

The number of unemployed workers rose from the prior month, a +9.5 percent increase to 466,200 and was up +97.4 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was up +0.1 percent over-the-month and down -4.1 percent over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

In May, Governor Pritzker launched Get Hired Illinois, a new one-stop-shop website to help connect job seekers with hiring employers in real time. The site features virtual job fairs, no-cost virtual training, and includes Illinois Job Link (IJL), the state’s largest job search engine, which recently showed 43,352 posted resumes with 91,765 available jobs.

Pritzker Administration Awards $31.5 Million in First Ever Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program Grants to Organizations Across the State
Using revenue from adult-use cannabis sales, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) today announced 80 grants totaling $31.5 million to organizations to help the communities hardest hit by the failed war on drugs. The organizations’ work includes violence prevention, legal aid, and re-entry services.

The grants are part of the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program, which was created as a key equity element of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), signed by Governor Pritzker in 2019. The law requires that 25 percent of all cannabis revenue be used to support communities impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, and the severe and disproportionate damage caused by the war on drugs, largely and disproportionately impacted low-income Illinoisans and communities of color.

Awardees include nonprofit organizations, local units of government, tax-exempt faith-based organizations, businesses, and other community organizations that serve residents of—or are based in—designated eligible R3 zones.

The funds will be administered in the 2021 calendar year and include $28.3 million to support service delivery and $3.1 million for assessment and planning initiatives.

ICJIA received 398 completed applications, which were reviewed by criminal justice practitioners, community stakeholders, and formerly justice-involved individuals. All reviewers received implicit bias training along with training on application review. In addition, the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative played a pivotal role in ensuring equity and restorative justice frameworks were centered in every decision throughout the review process. Funded programs will offer evidence-based, promising, or innovative practices within the R3 Program Priority Areas of civil legal aid, economic development, community re-entry from the criminal justice system, violence prevention, and youth development.

Areas eligible for funding were identified using community-level data on gun injury, child poverty, unemployment, and state prison commitments and returns, combined with disproportionately impacted areas previously identified by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. See the full list of grantees below.

ICJIA is dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice through work in the areas of grants administration, research and analysis, policy and planning, and information systems and technology. Visit

Will County was a major recipient of over $1 million dollars to go towards the following;

Recipient        Amount                       Program Areas
Will County    $151,697                    Violence Prevention
Will County    $881,700                    Violence Prevention, Youth Development, Civil Legal Aid and Economic Development

Illinois Invests over $3 Million in Community Navigators & Additional Support for Illinois Small Business
Governor JB Pritzker today announced new investments by the State of Illinois to help more small businesses access federal COVID-19 emergency programs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will direct a $3.4 million investment to expand community navigator outreach programs and technical assistance services provided through the State’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). These investments are designed to help more businesses take advantage of billions of dollars of financial assistance recently made available through the renewed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and with other federal programs set to launch in the coming weeks.

The state’s plans to help more Illinois small businesses will build on the successful community navigator outreach model piloted during the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program – the largest in the nation business recovery program which directed an historic $275 million to nearly 9,000 small businesses across the state – including a record number of grants for minority-owned businesses.

New investments will guide an equity-based approach to reaching small businesses with the greatest needs – with outreach prioritizing minority-owned businesses, businesses in economically-disadvantaged communities, as well as those which have yet to receive financial assistance. These investments will help address unique barriers faced by very small and minority-owned businesses as reported on from earlier rounds of the PPP, including difficulties navigating systems and submitting documents required to quickly unlock emergency aid.

DCEO will mobilize $2.4 million in supplemental CARES Act dollars to boost capacity of the Small Business Development Center program – a statewide network of community-based centers with 42 locations statewide. Illinois is home to one of the largest networks of small business development centers in the country – with locations offering an array of services including: 1:1 business advisory services, counseling, and technical assistance with applying to grants.

New investments will allow the SBDCs to expand outreach and professional business services from all 42 locations, including hiring advisors to focus specifically on helping businesses navigate emergency aid programs. SBDCs continue to build relationships with community groups and organizations outside business support networks to reach businesses that may be traditionally isolated from assistance.

Outreach and assistance through the SBDCs and community navigator partners helped the state achieve its aggressive equity goals under the BIG program, resulting in 40 percent of awards reaching minority business owners, 80 percent of awards reaching very small businesses under $1 million in annual revenues and nearly 50 percent to communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden to Sign Executive Orders to Boost Covid-19 Aid, Expand Worker Protections
President Biden will sign an executive order Friday aimed at swiftly delivering more relief to low-income families and unemployed workers as the White House prepares to convince skeptical Senate Republicans to back its $1.9 trillion coronavirus legislation.

Mr. Biden will direct agencies across the government to take immediate steps to enhance federal benefits, such as expanding food assistance, improving distribution of stimulus checks and clarifying that workers may refuse jobs with unsafe working conditions and still qualify for unemployment benefits, administration officials said Thursday.

A White House spokeswoman said the administration expects action to be taken in the coming days. “These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief,” Brian Deese, the director of Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council, said Thursday. “But they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families. And that’s why the president is going to act quickly on these steps.”

President Biden also intends to issue a second order that would advance Democratic priorities favorable to workers. It would restore collective bargaining power for federal workers; revoke an order from former President Donald Trump that exempted some federal positions from competitive hiring procedures and civil-service protections; and direct agencies to start planning for a $15 minimum wage for federal workers and contractors.

Mr. Biden’s order will direct the Agriculture Department to increase emergency food assistance available to families during the pandemic by 15%, to better match the cost of meals that children would be receiving free if they were in school. This would amount to an additional $100 every two months for a family of three under the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, according to the White House.

The order will also allow the Agriculture Department to expand access to emergency increases in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps, that Congress authorized last year. Because of the way the Trump administration designed the program, some of the lowest-income households—about 12 million people—weren’t eligible for the extra benefits, Mr. Deese said. The move would increase spending on benefits for those families by about 15% to 20% a month.

Mr. Biden is also asking the Treasury Department to take steps to ensure eligible households who haven’t received the stimulus payments Congress authorized in two rounds last year are able to access the funds. As many as 8 million eligible households didn’t receive a round of payments that were authorized in March, administration officials said.

And he will tell the Labor Department to clarify that workers have a right to refuse a job that would jeopardize their health and are still eligible for jobless benefits if they do so. The order would also establish a network of “benefit delivery teams” across federal and state-administered programs to help improve access to relief, such as tax credits, small business loans and jobless benefits.

The second executive order would direct federal agencies to begin taking steps so Mr. Biden, within his first 100 days, can issue an order requiring that federal contractors pay a $15-an-hour minimum wage and provide paid leave for their employees—a promise he made during his presidential campaign.

It would also restore collective-bargaining power for federal workers by repealing several Trump-era executive orders, and it would reverse a move by Mr. Trump that critics, including public-sector unions, said would undercut key job protections for federal workers by essentially making it easier to dismiss them.

COVID-19 Liability Coalition Letter from the U.S. Chamber

The undersigned organizations urge you to include targeted and temporary liability protections as you consider President Biden’s COVID relief package. As the Administration strives to reopen schools, protect our nation’s health, and strengthen our economy, these critical protections will help safeguard educational institutions, healthcare providers, businesses, and non-profit organizations from unfair lawsuits.

The COVID-19 virus continues to rage throughout this country, presenting once-in-a-generation public health and economic challenges. Despite these difficulties, the development and distribution of vaccines give new hope for a future free of the crushing social and economic effects of the virus. Unfortunately, for many who remain on the front lines and continue to serve our communities during this pandemic, the threat of unfair litigation continues to loom. In 2020, over $23 million was spent by plaintiffs’ firms on COVID-19-related lawsuit advertisements, a clear indication that a litigation wave is lurking. As employers, educational institutions, and others answer President Biden’s very appropriate call for face coverings and other protective steps, they should not have to worry that their actions will invite costly and unnecessary litigation.

The time for federal action implementing liability protections from such litigation is now. We thus urge you to include balanced liability relief provisions similar to last Congress’ SAFE TO WORK ACT (S. 4317) in any further COVID-19 relief legislation. We believe that legislation in this space should ensure that unfair lawsuits will not hamper those who work to comply with applicable government guidelines. We also believe these protections should be limited in duration and scope in addition to preserving reasonable recourse for those harmed by truly bad actors.

Ensuring a bright post-pandemic future for our country’s healthcare, business, and non-profit communities is a bipartisan objective. In the last round of COVID-19 relief negotiations, we were encouraged to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle recognize the need for targeted and temporary liability relief. Lawmakers must come together now and ensure that the entities who continue to serve and protect their communities during this pandemic are themselves protected from unfair and harmful lawsuits.

In the wake of prior crises, Congress came together to pass needed liability protections with strong bipartisan support because lawmakers understood the acute threat of lawsuits at moments of maximum economic vulnerability. That threat is present again now. As such, Congress must take strong action now and provide a national baseline of liability protection during this national pandemic to prevent a wave of lawsuits from inhibiting our return to a robust economy and healthy citizenry.

Impeachment Article will be Sent to the Senate on Monday
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said this morning that the House-passed impeachment article against former President Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday.

Schumer said from the Senate floor: “Make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate and there will be a vote whether to convict the president. I’ve spoken to Speaker Pelosi, who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday.”

What that means for timing: “The article moving to the Senate triggers the start of the trial at 1 p.m. the following day, except for Sundays. But Schumer, in his floor speech, said he is having discussions with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the timing and length of the trial.”

The announcement from Schumer rejects at least part of the request from Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who wanted to wait until Jan. 28, next Thursday, for the article to be sent, and for the start of the trial to be delayed until February.

Updated PPP Loan Applications
The process to receive a first or second draw PPP loan is now open to all and at all financial institutions. Contact your bank, credit union, or check out our list of members that you can reach out to:

First draw app:

Second draw app:

Program Notices & Reminders
SBA Page Links for Direction and Questions on PPP

1st draw info:

2nd draw info:

SBDC at JJC Update
Government Certification Process (with Rita Haake at COD) January 28th at 9am

  • Certifications: Interpreting the alphabet to pursue profits! Which small business certification is the best one for you?
    Your options:
    • Federal: 8(a), EDWOSB, HUBZone, SDB, SDVOSB, WOSB, VOSB
    • State: DBE, FBE, FMBE, MBE, PBE, VBE
    • Local: DBE, MBE, WBE, VBE
    You will learn the details of the application process, documentation requirements, certification options, and how to market and leverage certifications for the growth of your business.

Finally, here is the information for our first Legislative Coffee session in 2021 presented by CITGO. 

Government Affairs Coffee Series with Senators Cappel & Connor

Join the Joliet Chamber and its Legislative Committee for an introduction to newly elected Illinois State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel and State Senator John Connor. We will hear about their backgrounds, views on the recent lame duck session, and thoughts moving forward about issues in the new session & the restore Illinois phases / tiers.

Friday, January 29th, 2021
1:00 p.m.

GoToMeeting Webinar Session
Please check your registration confirmation email for webinar log-in information.
No fee to participate; however, registration is required to attend.

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