Chamber Members:

Good news to report today on covid numbers as newly reported cases in the U.S. dropped below 40,000 for the first time since early October. The full update below has some more information on vaccine numbers and how other states are expanding eligibility. Also, tax talk ramps up on the federal level, extensions of the PPP deadline and the ERTC come as good news, and immigration talk will be a main focus this week in Washington DC. Don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom as we have a survey link still live and some new programs have been added including a testing site locally.

A few reminders first –
We have a busy end of the month as far as our calendar goes. Our State of the City Address with Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is back on the calendar for Monday, March 22 at 11 AM. Make sure to sign up here.

Please add the Women’s Empowerment Forum on Wednesday, March 24th. In honor of National Women’s History month the chamber has partnered with Lewis University and invites you to join an interactive, virtual, open forum with women educators and leaders from our community. Join us at 2:30 PM by registering here:

Also, you can now register to join us for a Joliet City Council Candidate forum to take place on Thursday, March 25th. We’ll have an in-person event that will be taped and released immediately as well as a published questionnaire before the 3/25 event. This event will run from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. You can register here:

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Biden Eyes First Major Tax Hike Since 1993
President Joe Biden is planning the first major federal tax hike since 1993 to help pay for the long-term economic program designed as a follow-up to his pandemic-relief bill, according to people familiar with the matter.

Unlike the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus act, the next initiative, which is expected to be even bigger, won’t rely just on government debt as a funding source. While it’s been increasingly clear that tax hikes will be a component — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said at least part of the next bill will have to be paid for and pointed to higher rates — key advisers are now preparing for a package of measures that could include an increase in both the corporate tax rate and the individual rate for high earners.

For the Biden administration, the planned changes are an opportunity not just to fund key initiatives like infrastructure, climate, and expanded help for poorer Americans, but also to address what Democrats argue are inequities in the tax system itself. The plan will test both Biden’s capacity to woo Republicans and Democrats’ ability to remain unified.

While the White House has rejected an outright wealth tax, as proposed by progressive Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, the administration’s current thinking does target the wealthy. The White House is expected to propose a suite of tax increases, mostly mirroring Biden’s 2020 campaign proposals, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

The tax hikes included in any broader infrastructure and jobs package are likely to include repealing portions of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals, as well as making other changes to make the tax code more progressive, said the people familiar with the plan.

The following are among proposals currently planned or under consideration, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private:

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%
  • Paring back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses, such as limited-liability companies or partnerships
  • Raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000
  • Expanding the estate tax’s reach
  • A higher capital-gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million annually. (Biden on the campaign trail proposed applying income-tax rates, which would be higher)

White House economist Heather Boushey underlined that Biden doesn’t intend to boost taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year. But for “folks at the top who’ve been able to benefit from this economy and haven’t been this hard hit, there’s a lot of room there to think about what kinds of revenue we can raise,” she said in a Bloomberg TV interview Monday.

An independent analysis of the Biden campaign tax plan done by the Tax Policy Center estimated it would raise $2.1 trillion over a decade, though the administration’s plan is likely to be smaller. Bianchi earlier this month wrote that congressional Democrats might agree to $500 billion.

The overall program has yet to be unveiled, with analysts penciling in $2 trillion to $4 trillion. No date has yet been set for an announcement, though the White House said the plan would follow the signing of the Covid-19 relief bill.

Lawmakers Strike a Deal to Extend the PPP
The leaders of the House Committee on Small Business reached a bipartisan agreement at the end of last week to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by 60 days past the upcoming March 31 deadline. In addition to delaying the PPP’s loan application deadline to May 31, the deal would give the Small Business Administration (SBA) authority to continue processing pending applications for 30 days after that date.

The agreement, struck by House Small Business chair Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), comes after business groups and the lending community pressed the Biden administration for an extension. Last-minute changes requested by the Biden administration on February 22 left both business owners and lenders with little time to implement the changes and submit accurate applications.

Trade and business groups such as Chambers of Commerce have been vocal about the number of PPP loans that are on hold because of delays caused by fraud and data checks in the SBA’s PPP loan approval system. During a House Committee on Small Business hearing on Wednesday, the American Institute of CPAs’ vice president of firm services, Lisa Simpson, noted that these issues could take at least two to six weeks to resolve. As a result, many larger banks, such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, have stopped accepting applications.

The measure could reach the House floor for a vote as early as sometime this week. For the measure to get approved before the PPP’s current deadline, the Senate would need to reach unanimous consent. A lengthy floor debate would push off approval of the deal until members of the House reconvene in mid-April.

Employee Retention Tax Credit Extended Under the American Rescue Plan
With the tax filing deadline approaching, make sure your company is getting all the assistance available from government programs. For instance, that means checking that you’ve fully utilized the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), the refundable tax credit designed to make it easier for businesses to keep employees on the payroll.

The credit is getting extended as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion relief package just signed by President Biden. Originally scheduled to end on June 30, ERC will continue through year end, giving business owners access to as much as $33,000 per employee in incentives. How the credit works, depending on the time frame.

First half of 2021:
Eligible employers can claim a refundable credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70 percent of a full-time employee’s qualified wages paid–including certain health plan expenses–from January 1 through June 30, 2021. The maximum ERC amount available is $7,000 per employee per quarter or $14,000 for eligible wages paid in the first half of 2021.

That component is available to companies that experienced a full or partial suspension of operations as a result of government mandates, or those that can show at least a 20 percent reduction in quarterly gross receipts in 2021, compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Second-half of 2021:
The new law allows businesses to claim the refundable credit against the employer share of employment taxes (including Medicare), equal to as much as $7,000 per full-time employee per quarter during the last half of the year. So, including the existing provisions, business owners this year would qualify for up to $28,000 per employee.

The same eligibility rules apply in the last two quarters of 2021: Your company must have experienced a full or partial shutdown or at least a 20 percent drop in quarterly gross receipts in 2021.

Full year, 2020:
Employers can also qualify for a look-back to 2020 to access an additional credit per full-time employee. The measure was authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), which also allowed ERC recipients to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, although employers can’t claim the ERC on expenses paid with forgiven PPP funds.

To access the 2020 credit, which spans March 12, 2020 through January 1, 2021, eligible companies must show a more than 50 percent decline in quarterly gross receipts, compared with the same quarter in 2019. The credit is 50 percent of qualified wages paid, up to $10,000 per employee in 2020. The maximum credit available is $5,000 per employee.

How to file for the benefit
PPP recipients can file amended tax returns to claim the ERC for 2020 and/or claim an ERC in their 2021 tax filing. Also, unlike the PPP, which is designed for small businesses, a company’s head count doesn’t affect eligibility for the credit.

One caveat: The size of a business dictates which wages can be claimed. Large businesses (more than 500 employees) can only claim the ERC for wages paid to employees for the time they are not providing services. Smaller businesses (500 or fewer employees) can claim a credit for all wages paid to employees whether they’re actively working or not, according to accounting firm BDO.

The CAA increased the threshold for “large employer” to more than 500 employees, up from more than 100. Note that the 100-employee standard still holds when applying for the 2020 credit. Companies with fewer than 500 employees may also request advance payment of the credit (subject to certain limits), directly from the Internal Revenue Service.

Immigration Reaching Capitol Hill This Week
It is a big week for immigration. The House is poised to vote on two immigration bills this week, both narrower pieces of legislation while Democrats weigh how ambitious to go with President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan. All of this is unfolding amid a growing debate about how to address the surging numbers of migrant children and families being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

1) The Dream and Promise Act would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have remained in the country illegally. This bill also provides a path to citizenship for the immigrants living in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status. Seven House Republicans supported this legislation last time around.

2) The second bill, the Farm Modernization Workforce Act, aims to provide a path to citizenship for farm workers who are living in the country illegally. Thirty-four Republicans supported this legislation last Congress.

Both bills passed the House last session but weren’t taken up in the Senate. Still, despite Dems’ narrow majority, the bills as they currently stand are unlikely to get the 60 needed votes to pass in the upper chamber. (This has also fueled talk of including key immigration provisions to Dems’ next use of the reconciliation process.) Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is talking with Republicans about a narrow bipartisan approach on Dreamers.

Illinois becomes 5th state to dole out 4 million COVID-19 vaccines
Illinois surpassed a major milestone this weekend, becoming the fifth state and first in the Midwest to administer 4 million COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Pritzker said Sunday.

Illinois joined California, Florida, New York, and Texas as the only states in the U.S. to dole out 4 million or more vaccines over the last month, narrowly edging out Pennsylvania, which became the sixth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database. In total, the Prairie State has administered 4,040,302 vaccine doses over the last three months, including 96,332 on Saturday, state health officials said.

The news follows a record-setting day of administering shots on Friday, when the state reported 152,697 vaccines were given. The state’s seven-day rolling average of shots injected per day is 97,441. Still, only 1,488,244 Illinoisans — about 11.7% of the state’s population — are considered fully vaccinated, meaning they’ve received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. As of this morning, about 22% of Illinois residents have received one injection.

Some States Expand Eligibility for Vaccines
A handful of states are expanding the categories of residents eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines starting Monday, as President Biden is pushing for all citizens to be eligible for the shot beginning in May.

In California, vaccine eligibility is expanding Monday to include people over 16 with certain underlying health conditions, homeless residents, people who live or work in group residential facilities and public transit and commercial airline workers. About 20% of Californians have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas is lowering the vaccine eligibility age from 65 to 50 on Monday. About 18% of the state’s population has received at least one dose so far. Texas ended its statewide mask mandate last week. Georgia residents age 55 and older and those with certain medical conditions will be eligible to get a vaccine starting Monday. About 15% of Georgia’s population has received one vaccine dose already. In Kentucky, the state is opening access to all residents 16 and older with certain health conditions. Also starting Monday, nursing homes in Kentucky will ease visitor restrictions that have been in place for almost a year.

The U.S. surpassed 100 million vaccinations on Friday. President Biden last week pressed states to widen eligibility to all adults by May 1. Nationwide, 20.8% of the population has received at least one dose, and 11.1% has been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Program Notices & Reminders
Hollywood Casino Joliet Partnering with Illinois Dept. of Public Health to Host Covid Mobile Testing Program
Hollywood Casino Joliet announced that it is partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) to host a COVID-19 mobile testing program in the casino’s parking lot. The IDPH will set up and operate the mobile testing program at Hollywood Casino every Sunday in March and the first Sunday in April.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide our parking lot as a COVID-19 testing site to help fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Lydia Garvey, Vice President and General Manager at Hollywood Casino Joliet. “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our community as we all work together towards ending the pandemic.”

The IDPH’s mobile testing program in Hollywood Casino’s parking lot will take place from 8:00am to 4:00pm on March 20, March 27, and April 3. Individuals seeking COVID-19
tests will not need a photo ID nor need to be showing signs of symptoms to receive a test. The
mobile testing program accepts insurance, however an insurance card is not necessary to be
tested. For the uninsured or if insurance does not cover the cost of the test, the state of Illinois will cover the cost.

The COVID-19 mobile testing program will use anterior nares swabs to test patients, with specimens being shipped to a lab to run on a polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”) testing machine which makes it possible to detect COVID-19 with a very high degree of accuracy. Individuals tested will receive a phone call between 4-7 days from the date of their test from the number 888-297-7208. Patients who miss the call will be requested to call back in order to receive results as they cannot be left via voicemail.

Paycheck Protection Program Office Hours This Week Hosted by the SBA Illinois District Office
The SBA Illinois District Office is here to help you navigate the Paycheck Protection Program! Join them this week for office hours and get your questions about PPP answered. They will be hosting office hours daily until PPP closes on March 31Sign up for office hours this week below!
Office hours this week 

Browse other events hosted by the SBA Illinois District Office

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Joliet Junior College
Here are our upcoming no-cost webinars:
Starting Your Business in Illinois on March 24th at 2pm
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 (

Social Media – Stop Posting! Start Marketing (with Joe Sanders) on April 1 at 11am
Are you taking advantage of the opportunities and changes in Social Media? Learn the five-step process: Find the Right Audience; Create the Right Content; Promote Your Business as a Brand; Use Ample Resources; and Analyze the Results. Digital Marketing expert, podcast host and author Joe Sanders, from Relevant Elephant, will share a powerful overview of how to improve your social media strategy and WHY you need to take action.
Social Media – Stop Posting! Start Marketing! (with Joe Sanders) (

Video Marketing for Small Business (with Mike at Acclaim Media) on April 8 at 11am
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 Poglitsch at Acclaim Media about how easy the process can be.
Video Marketing for Small Business (

Funding Your Business (with Nancy Kuzma) on April 14th at 2pm
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.
Funding Your Business Webinar (

Government Certification Process (with Rita Haake at COD) on April 27th at 1pm
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
• 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.
Webinar: The Certification Process (

Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Updates and Offerings
Advantage Illinois Loan Program for Small Businesses
Event Date and Time:  Wednesday, March 16, 2021 at 10:00 am
About this Event:
Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about Advantage Illinois. Advantage Illinois provides Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the capital to start new companies and expand existing business.
Registration Link:

DCEO Veterans Series Presents Illinois Joining Forces
Event Date and time:  Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 10:00 am
About this Event:
Join DCEO’s Office of Regional Economic Development and the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment who will host a webinar with Illinois Joining Forces Executive Director Brig. General (Ret.) Steve Curda, Ph.D. and Jim Dolan, Sr. Director of Development with Illinois Joining Forces. Illinois Joining Forces serves as a statewide public-private partnership that promotes the efficient delivery of Growth and Wellness initiatives for Service Members, Veterans, and their Families at the community level throughout the State of Illinois.
Registration Link:

DCEO Angel Investment Tax Credit and Other Assistance Programs
Event Date and Time:  Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm
About this Event:
The Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit Program encourages investment in innovative, early-stage companies to help obtain the working capital needed to further the growth of their company in Illinois. Investors in companies that are certified as Qualified New Business Ventures (QNBVs) can receive a state tax credit equal to 25% of their investment (up to $2 million).
Registration Link:

Illinois Department of Transportation
The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting free virtual workshops in February as part of its Building Blocks of Success series for firms interested in participating in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program strengthening their skills and bidding on state projects. The workshops are open to all, but some are tailored to specific districts/regions of the state.

The workshop dates and topics are:

• March 16: Landscape Material and Other Requirements, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 18: Prime Contractors’ Perspective, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 23: Getting Paid, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 25: Required Documents, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 29: Quick Books Part 1, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 30: Quick Books Part 2, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 31: Quick Books Part 3, 10 a.m. to noon

Building Blocks of Success will be conducted through April. Workshop information, including dates and times, will be made available through Eventbrite at Advance registration is required. Questions can be directed to the DBE resource center at (312) 939-1100.

Finally, please consider taking a few minutes to fill out the 2021 Small Business Needs Assessment.  The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Illinois SBDC at Joliet Junior College asks for your assistance in our effort to best serve small business. Your input is extremely valuable and we thank you for your time in completing this survey.

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