Chamber Members:

It is always nice to start off a week and in today’s case a new month with good news. Today we learned that our Region 7 covering Will and Kankakee counties has been allowed to roll back to Phase 4 under the Restore plan with NO tier mitigations. See the press release below for the full details.

Additionally, you’ll see articles about the Senate Republican working group plan for pandemic aid, census report delay, governor power pull back, and a contest for the “coolest” things made here in Illinois.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Region 7 Moves to Phase 4
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced Region 7, Kankakee and Will counties, is moving to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan effective today. Additional information about which tier and phase regions are in can be found at the top of the IDPH website homepage. A Phase 4 Guidelines Overview can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website and attached as a PDF to this message.

Phase 4 Guidelines include the following:

• Indoor dining and drinking now permitted for parties of up to 10 people
• Seated areas should be arranged so that tables allow for 6 feet between parties; impermeable barriers may be installed between booths which are less than 6 feet apart

• Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy

• Continue capacity limit of no more than 50% occupancy

• Reopening select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks); indoor playgrounds and trampoline parks should remain closed
• Indoor recreation to operate at lesser of 50 customers or 50% of facility capacity

• Capacity limit of no more than 25% occupancy
• Guided tours should be limited to 50 or fewer people per group

• Limit to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of room capacity
• Multiple groups may meet in the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms

IDPH will continue to closely monitor test positivity, ICU bed availability, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19.  Should data show regions trending in the wrong direction, based on the established mitigation metrics, regions could once again find themselves in a higher tier with increased measures.

Information about mitigation and resurgence metrics can be found on the IDPH website at

Senate Republicans Unveil $618 Billion Aid Proposal
A group of 10 GOP senators unveiled an estimated $618 billion coronavirus proposal on Monday ahead of a meeting with President Biden to discuss relief legislation.

“Mr. President, we recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” the senators said in a joint statement.

The group includes GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bill Cassidy (La.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Todd Young (Ind.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.).

The Republican proposal totals $618 billion, according to details released by Collins’s office on Monday morning. That is roughly a third of the $1.9 trillion plan proposed by Biden and backed by congressional Democrats.

The proposal includes:

  • $160 billion in pandemic response funding including protective equipment and more money for vaccine distribution
  • It also extends the $300 per week federal unemployment benefit through June 30 rather than $400 a week through September in the Biden plan
  • The bill includes a $1,000 direct payment, compared to the $1,400 direct payment in Biden’s plans, with $500 for adult dependents and children. The proposal also lowers the income cap for qualifying for the direct assistance
  • Under previous coronavirus bills, individuals who make up to $75,000 would receive the check, with the amount of the payment phasing out after that. But under the GOP proposal individuals who make up to $40,000 would get a $1,000 check, with the amount of the check phasing out altogether at $50,000
  • $20 billion in additional funding for schools
  • $20 billion in childcare funding
  • Additional $50 billion in small business aid
  • $12 billion for nutrition assistance
  • $4 billion for behavioral health resources

Democrats are nearing a decision point on whether they will move forward with their $1.9 trillion plan, which will require passing it without GOP votes, or negotiate a substantially smaller bill if Senate Republicans guarantee they will provide the 10 votes needed to get over the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

The House is scheduled to vote on a budget resolution this week that will include reconciliation instructions that will allow Congress to draft and ultimately pass a coronavirus bill with only a simple majority in the House and Senate. Going it alone will test Democratic unity just weeks into Biden’s administration.

Democrats are split over whether or not including a $15 minimum wage increase complies with arcane Senate rules that govern what can, and cannot, pass through reconciliation. A stand-alone bill from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) only has the support of an additional 37 senators.

Census Report and Illinois Redistricting Issues
A wrench has been thrown into Illinois’ redistricting plans. The census data needed to determine how to redraw the boundaries for most every elected office in the state may not be turned over until well into the summer because of pandemic-driven delays.

Detailed Census data is usually delivered by the end of March, but this year, states shouldn’t expect it before July 30, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday during a webinar with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

That poses a scheduling problem: The Illinois Constitution requires that redistricting be directed by the state House of Representatives and completed by June 30. If that deadline isn’t met, then a bipartisan committee must be formed. That would give Republicans a bigger say in a process that would otherwise be dominated by Democrats who hold huge margins in the chamber to determine how boundaries are drawn for state House and Senate seats, as well as for city and county elected seats.

The process around congressional seats isn’t bound by the June 30 deadline, so that remap could happen after census data is eventually released (though that’s also problematic as candidates will need to know what districts they’re in before they start collecting signatures to run for office). The signature deadline for the 2022 election is at the end of November of this year.

Election attorney Michael Dorf expects House Democrats will have a workaround, using census estimates so it can meet the constitutional requirement to have a map drawn by June 30. “They know that the map will be challenged in the Supreme Court anyway. So they could have it drawn and by the time they’re in court, it could be adjusted based on the data,” he told Playbook.

Dorf is speaking from experience, having represented lawmakers whose districts have been rejiggered in a remap. Legal challenges can come from the opposing political party and from minority groups concerned that boundaries don’t allow for proper representation of their communities.

If lawmakers don’t meet the June 30 deadline, the remap would be overseen by an eight-person, bipartisan commission.

“Whatever group members draw maps, they need to explain and show how they upheld minority representation rights and preserved communities of interest, compactness and contiguity so that Illinoisans understand how the maps were drawn,” Madeleine Doubek of the nonprofit Change Illinois, which supports remap transparency, told Playbook. “Illinoisans deserve to be active participants in the process of drawing the districts. These are the people’s districts, after all.”

If a bipartisan committee is doing the remap, incumbents would most likely benefit because they’d be protected by their respective party representatives on the committee. It would mean Democrats wouldn’t be able to squeeze Republicans out by gerrymandering districts in their favor.

“You could see a lot of districts being squared up. Right now, many are shaped in crazy ways instead of as proper polygons,” said political consultant and map maker Frank Calabrese, citing a Brennan Center for Justice study that says bipartisan mapping leads to more fairly drawn districts.

The lag in receiving census data makes things more difficult for states with population losses that must figure out how to subtract a congressional seat, writes POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick. That’s where Illinois sits. Political observers expect freshman Rep. Mary Miller would see her seat eliminated and the district divided among other lawmakers. That could occur in part because she has the least seniority and also because of her recent, controversial comments invoking Hitler, which drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Legislators Move to Rein in Governor Powers
Lawmakers in more than half the states are moving to curtail emergency powers their governors have used to combat the coronavirus pandemic in increasingly fraught clashes over the balance of power between legislatures and the executive. More than 150 bills and resolutions limiting a governor’s authority have been introduced in 27 states, according to a tally maintained by Stateside, a lobbying firm that concentrates on legislatures.

Most of the measures to curb executive authority have been introduced by Republican legislators, sparking battles in states where those legislators hold power alongside a Democratic governor. But anger is growing in red states, too, as Republican legislators seek to limit the authority of some of the most conservative governors in the country.

In Idaho, a growing feud between Gov. Brad Little (R) and legislative leaders who want to end his emergency declaration has frayed already delicate relations. Little’s own lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin (R), has joined protests against state coronavirus-related restrictions.

“Our members are working on various forms of legislation to help the state on its road to the recovery that Idahoans have been demanding for months and we call on the governor to work with us in this process,” the state House Republican Conference said in a statement last week.

Little has said ending the declaration would jeopardize federal emergency management money that has been used to supply first responders with personal protective equipment. Business groups back Little, and the adjutant general of the state’s National Guard has said without the declaration they would be forced to stand down.

In Arizona, two leading state senators said this week they would consider five bills to limit Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) power, though Ducey has not taken the restrictive steps that neighboring states have used. The governor has resisted calls to implement a statewide mask mandate. In a statement, state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R), chair of the Senate Government Committee, said Senate Republicans “unanimously supported the concept of limiting the abuse of executive emergency powers.”

The state Republican Party this month censured Ducey over the executive actions he has taken. That rebuke came alongside resolutions censuring former Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for their endorsements of President Biden before the November election.

On the other side of the country, New Hampshire Republicans have introduced 18 bills to curb Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) emergency authority. Seventy percent of New Hampshire voters approve of the job Sununu has done handling the pandemic, but Republicans in the legislature heard testimony this week on legislation that would refund fines on businesses and remove criminal convictions of those charged with violating coronavirus restrictions.

In states where Democratic governors hold power alongside Republican legislatures, tensions over executive authority have been building for months.

Michigan Republicans have repeatedly clashed with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) over her executive orders. This week, state House Republicans unveiled a proposed recovery plan that would hold up billions of dollars in school funding unless Whitmer and the state Department of Health and Human Services relinquish their authority to suspend in-person school and sporting events.

Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled state Senate passed a measure to end Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) statewide mask mandate in a vote along party lines. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) postponed a planned vote on the bill after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that it could cost the state $50 million a month in federal aid for food stamps. “We don’t want to rush into anything,” Vos told reporters.

Kentucky legislators have proposed legislation that would end Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) emergency orders within 30 days, unless the legislature votes to extend them. Beshear has vetoed several measures that would have limited his power.

Republican legislators in Kansas, too, have taken aim at Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) authority in the midst of the crisis.

The measures to limit a governor’s authority are not wholly reserved to Republicans. In Washington state, a Democratic state representative has introduced legislation that would end Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) emergency orders after 30 days — though that measure is unlikely to advance in the heavily Democratic legislature.

Michael Behm, Stateside’s co-chief executive, said tensions have been rising in part because legislators want more oversight of federal relief money that has been allocated to the states.

“The legislators think that [governors] have taken it too far. Some of them admit they don’t have a solution, but they don’t feel like the governor has worked with us or collaborated with us,” he said. “They’re just angry about this.”

The moves to limit governors’ authority are growing as the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in the United States drops from an early January high. Health experts worry that, as in past months, the positive trajectory of the moment could give the public a false sense of security and a reason to drop their guard, just as new variants of the virus first discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil become more widespread in the U.S.

“We’ve seen over the past year how unpredictable this virus can be,” said Rich Besser, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now heads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “And how quickly it can turn from a positive picture to one that’s very concerning.”

Treasurer Frerichs Encourages Non-Profits to Apply for $250,000 Available
Small non-profits that provide food, housing assistance, and workforce and economic development can apply for funding through the Charitable Trust Stabilization Program, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.

“We are excited to kick off the new year with up to $250,000 available to small non-profits,” Frerichs said. “We all are experiencing the impact of the pandemic and this funding will help valuable organizations continue their mission to feed, house, and employ those in need.”

The Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund assists small non-profits with annual budgets of $1 million or less. Money comes from filing fees non-profits pay when incorporating in the state of Illinois, not personal or property tax dollars.

For this grant cycle, up to $250,000 is available to be split between 10 non-profits. The maximum award amount is $25,000 for each organization. Close to $3 million has been awarded to 134 non-profit organizations through the Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund since the program was established in 2017. Awardees are selected by an 11-member board, which oversees the management and guidelines of the fund.

Previous grant recipients are eligible to apply if the term of their grant has been complete for at least one calendar year.

Applications will be accepted through March 31 for this first cycle. The second cycle runs from July 1 – September 30, 2021. Visit to complete an application online or contact the treasurer’s office at (217) 836-4590.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Launches Second Annual “Makers Madness” Contest to Determine the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) is proud to launch the second annual “Makers Madness” contest, a bracket-style tournament in which voters across the state will decide which product is The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Sponsored by Comcast Business, the competition shines a light on Illinois’ diverse manufacturing sector, which has played a critical role in the state and nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers are not only developing life-saving vaccines and treatments, but also producing needed personal protective equipment, keeping store shelves stocked with important goods and nutritious foods and powering our homes and businesses.

Nominations for the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois are now being accepted at, where voting will take place throughout the contest. Any product manufactured in Illinois can be nominated. While qualifying products must be made in Illinois, the manufacturers’ headquarters do not need to be located in Illinois. Nominations will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. on February 14. Voting to narrow the field to the Top 16 products will begin February 17 with consecutive rounds of voting taking place each week. The contest will culminate with an awards ceremony on March 24 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“Manufacturing has always played a vital role in Illinois’ economy. Though the pandemic presented numerous challenges for manufacturers, they answered our nation’s call and rose to the occasion, underscoring the importance of creating and nurturing a strong manufacturing sector in Illinois,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “This contest is a celebration of manufacturing innovation and ingenuity, which will not only help solve this health and economic crisis, but also lead our state’s recovery.”

Last year’s winner was the 797F Mining Truck manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur. The competition featured products ranging from food goods, gadgets and toys to automobiles and components for the aerospace industry.

“Comcast Business is proud to partner with the IMA to support Illinois manufacturers and provide technologies that will spur innovations in manufacturing and will help advance the industry,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “We’re especially proud to sponsor Makers Madness, because it’s an excellent way to honor and highlight Illinois manufacturers that contribute to our economy and our way of life, not only here in the state but around the world.”

Timeline of events:

January 27 – February 14: Nominations accepted at

February 17 – February 28: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 2 – March 7: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 9 – March 14: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 16 – March 21: Final round of voting

March 24: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois Announced

Program Notices & Reminders
Illinois DCEO’s Office of Regional Economic Development
Join DCEO for a webinar to learn more about the US Small Business Administration’s Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This federal forgivable COVID-19 Relief Loan Program will help Illinois small businesses keep their employees on payroll during this unprecedented time.

Date:  February 3, 2021
Time:  2:00 pm
Presenter:  Tony Rolando, North Central Manager for Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Registration Link:

Date:  February 5, 2021
Time:  10:00 am
Presenters:  Jacqui Bevelheimer, West Central Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Registration Link:

Date:  February 9, 2021
Time:  2:00 pm
Presenters:  Kala Lambert, Southeast Regional Manager of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Aly Grady, Central Regional Manager of Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Registration Link:

Date:  February 10, 2021
Time:  10:00 am
Presenter:  Tracey Glenn, Southwest Regional Manager for Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Registration Link:

Date:  February 11, 2021
Time:  2:00 pm
Presenter:  Joe McKeown, Northeast Senior Account Manager for Regional Economic Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Registration Link:

SBA Page Links for Direction and Questions on PPP

1st draw info:
First draw app:

2nd draw info:
Second draw app:

SBDC at JJC Update
Using Facebook to Grow Your Business (with Mary Wu)
February 3rd and 2pm
Facebook is a powerful tool to connect with and communicate with your current clients and your prospective clients. In this workshop, we’ll cover some of the top tips you need to have a solid Facebook business presence. Mary Wu is a Social Media Consultant and Educator, she understands current trends in social media, and will help you determine the best ways to make use of your “social media real estate”

Quick Books (with Annette Szobar)
February 10th 2pm
Learn why keeping track of your finances is important, what information can you get from QuickBooks, and which version should you get!  Join independent entrepreneur and small business expert Annette Szobar who will help you solve your QuickBooks problems.

SEO (with Jason McCoy)
February 17 at 2pm
More consumers are doing research and shopping online than ever before due to circumstance, convenience, and cost. Businesses that wish to remain relevant and profitable need to adapt to the shift in consumer behavior. Creating optimized content for your website that will deliver interested consumers is critical now more than ever. Crafting a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan is imperative and second only to building a website in ‘getting your business online’.

Starting Your Business in Illinois
February 23rd at 11am
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.
Starting Your Business in Illinois Webinar (

Finally, we would like to ask that you take a few minutes to fill out a new survey that we’ve put together. This member survey is intended to gather feedback on the continuing issues, opportunities, and perceptions based around covid, the economy, and your business.

As we move forward during the pandemic and shifting political landscapes, please share your feedback so that we can best serve our membership.

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