Chamber Members:

To all the days here and after, may they be filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.

May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

These are some favorites of the hundreds of Irish sayings compiled over the years. Considering the events over the past year, they fit pretty well as we celebrate today.

Today’s update covers the extension of PPP is half way through congress, earmarks are also moving their way through the process of coming back, the Illinois redistricting process kicks off today, Chicago announces the push to move forward on vaccine expansion, and some tips on useful newsletters to utilize for your business.

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

House Votes to Extend PPP Application Deadline
The House passed a bill extending the deadline for applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan to May 31, sending the legislation to the Senate as the current March 31 deadline looms. Under the bill, which passed by a vote of 415-3, firms have until May 31 to apply for a loan and the SBA faces a June 30 deadline to process them. Small business advocates had called for an extension of the March 31 deadline to give lenders more time to implement a series of changes the Biden administration made to the program.

In an effort to increase access to the funds, especially for the smallest businesses and those owned by women, minorities, and rural residents, the Biden administration created a 14-day window during which the SBA only approved loans for firms with fewer than 20 employees. The SBA also changed the loan calculation formula for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed business owners, potentially allowing them to receive larger loans.

But those changes were implemented just weeks before the current March 31 deadline. Lenders, for example, hadn’t been able to submit borrower applications to the SBA using the revised loan calculation method until March 5.

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation extending the deadline. “We want it to move as quickly as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).

House Republicans Vote to Support Earmarks
House Republicans passed a resolution during their conference meeting in support of restoring earmarks. The House GOP’s 102-84 vote comes as Democrats gear up to revive the practice, which allows members to secure federal funding for specific projects.

Republicans in the lower chamber stopped the practice in 2011, citing a number of controversies stemming from earmarks including the so-called Bridge to Nowhere and the Jack Abramoff scandal. The effort to support their restoration with a number of reforms — including a requirement that they must be publicly disclosed with written justification and members can’t have a financial interest — was led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).

Proponents argue that Congress handed too much power to the executive branch by eliminating earmarks, arguing they are needed to restore the power of the purse. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were adamantly opposed to bringing earmarks back, alleging they are “legislative bribery” and a path to corruption.

Illinois Legislators Begin Redistricting Process
Illinois lawmakers are set to formally begin the once-a-decade task of redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts, a raucously partisan exercise complicated even further this time around by federal census delays. Another complicating factor: pending federal legislation that would put congressional redistricting in the hands of independent commissions.

The Illinois Senate’s redistricting committee meets for the first time today, while the House redistricting committee convenes April 1 with plans for hearings across the state to follow. In play are maps for the state’s 118 state House and 59 state Senate districts as well as the state’s congressional districts, which number 18 but are expected to decrease by one or two due to population losses in Illinois and growth in southern states.

It’s a process marked by blatant self-interest, with lawmakers looking for politically favorable district boundaries, and partisan power. Since Democrats control both chambers in the legislature as well as the governor’s office, they have the ability to draw new maps without any Republican input.

The only requirement is that the mapmakers follow federal and state legal requirements involving racial and ethnic representation, seek to maintain “communities of interest” and design districts that are “compact, contiguous and substantially equal in population.”

Ideally, the remapping process is guided by the results of the federal census, reflecting population shifts as well as racial and ethnic makeup. But a delay by the Census Bureau in reporting the granular numbers to states and the Illinois Constitution’s June 30 deadline for new state legislative maps is expected to force majority Democrats in the General Assembly to turn to other population data.

If the legislature fails to meet the deadline, an eight-member bipartisan commission is appointed to try to draw an acceptable map. After Aug. 10, a tiebreaking winner-take-all ninth member is appointed through a drawing to produce the map.

The state constitution’s authors saw the tiebreaker provision as a means to force compromise, figuring neither political party would risk leaving a decade’s worth of legislative control up to a name drawn out of a hat. But while legislators have regularly not met the June 30 deadline, the eight-member commission hasn’t produced a map since 1971. Instead the tiebreaker has come into play in 1981, 1991 and 2001.

Census officials have said they will release the state’s total population, the figure used to determine how many congressional seats Illinois will have, on April 1. But census officials say it will not release the more granular block-by-block data generally used for redistricting, usually in at the end of March, until Sept. 30.

The census delay is causing havoc for several states, with some shifting map deadlines or election dates, or even suing the Census Bureau in an effort to get data earlier. But the Illinois Constitution’s deadline could not be changed in time to affect the mapmaking process this year.

The state constitution does not really hamper legislators from moving forward despite the census delays, however, because it does not require the use of federal census data in drawing maps, stating only that redistricting occur “following each federal decennial census year.”

Chicago to Expand Vaccine Eligibility
Chicago will move to its next vaccination phase as expected on March 29, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today, citing progress the city has made in fighting COVID-19. But health officials say the supply of doses still isn’t matching demand.

Phase 1C or 1B+ by the state label includes a majority of adult Chicagoans, people ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, and all other essential workers, including in in these industries: finance; food and beverage; retail; higher education; IT and communications; legal; media; government; personal care services; construction; real estate; hotels; and transportation and logistics workers.

The city will not have enough vaccine for every newly eligible person in Chicago right away, Lightfoot warned. “April will even look better. . .. It will take us some time, because of the limited supply that we are still getting, but hope is on the way.”

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she was surprised to hear President Biden’s announcement that all adults would be vaccine eligible by May 1, but she took it “as a sign that the federal government is confident the vaccine supply will ramp up” quickly over the spring.

Roughly 600 health care providers are signed up and ready to administer vaccines in Chicago, but most have been waiting for supply to increase. Arwady promised the launch of more mass vaccination sites, in addition to the ability to get shots at regular health care providers and pharmacies.

Phase 1B, which included frontline essential workers and those above 65, kicked off on Jan. 25. But officials had held off expanding eligibility to those ages 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. To date, Will County is still operating under Phase 1B and has not expanded eligibility to those under 65.

Here is a quick recap of each vaccine phase:

Phase 1A
The first phase of vaccinations includes frontline healthcare workers as well as residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The goal is to fortify the healthcare workforce by removing the most exposed workers from the cycle of illness and infection as well as protect our most vulnerable residents. Most recent evaluations of Illinois’ healthcare workforce and nursing home and long-term care facility residents and staff estimate approximately 850,000 Illinoisans qualify for Phase 1A. Healthcare vaccinations began on December 15, 2020, with the federal government’s nursing home and long-term care vaccination program delivering its first shots on December 28, 2020. The state estimates that all interested residents in Phase 1A will be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

Phase 1B
On January 25, 2021, Phase 1B will begin, allowing frontline essential workers and residents aged 65 and over to get vaccinated. The frontline essential workers designation includes many residents who carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their work duties, often because they are unable to work from home, and/or they must work closely to others without being able to socially distance. This includes first responders, K-12 education workers, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections workers and inmates, USPS workers, public transit workers, grocery store workers and staff at shelters and day cares. To provide more equitable vaccine access to elder populations given data showing people of color die of COVID-19 at younger ages, Illinois lowered the age eligibility recommended by ACIP by 10 years, from age 75 to age 65. Illinois has 1.3 million people who qualify as “frontline essential workers” and 1.9 million adults aged 65 and over, totaling 3.2 million eligible Illinoisans.

Phase 1B+
On February 25, 2021, Phase 1B+ will be launched, expanding vaccine eligibility to people in Illinois with serious medical conditions and building on the state’s effort to equitably distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.  The expansion includes residents 16 and older with disabilities or underlying conditions who aren’t otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories, in accordance with CDC guidelines.  Medical conditions disproportionately impact people of color, and expansion of the criteria will advance the state’s goals of equitable distribution.  The expanded list of eligible conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, heart conditions, immunosuppressed states from a solid organ transplant, smoking, obesity, pregnancy, pulmonary disease, and sickle cell disease.  The expansion of Phase 1B+ will allow an additional 3.4 million people across Illinois to become eligible for the vaccine.

12 Small Business Newsletters for Entrepreneurs
Whether you’re looking to learn more about the startup process or you simply want to stay up to date on the latest industry trends, check out some newsletters for small business owners.

Top newsletters for running your business
These four newsletters will help you build the foundational knowledge you need to run and grow your business:

  1. Foundr: Foundr, which offers free training to business founders, has an exceptional newsletter for entrepreneurs. Delivered to over 300,000 entrepreneurs around the world, the Foundr newsletter offers the latest insights and tips for running a business. Subscribe to keep up with industry trends and sharpen your leadership skills.
  2. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA is a great resource for small businesses of all sorts. Through its newsletter, you’ll receive free small business tips, online training, and information about events in your area.
  3. The Feifer Five: This monthly newsletter run by Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, provides subscribers with five entrepreneurial tips each month. For example, in this issue from April 2018, Feifer talked about confidence, stubbornness, consumer behavior, humility and thought leadership, using other businesses and entrepreneurs as examples.
  4. Annette Stepanian: Annette Stepanian, a lawyer for entrepreneurs, shares legal tips and guidance for business owners in her weekly newsletter in a way that’s understandable and practical. From starting to running your business, this newsletter supports you at every stage of your entrepreneurial journey.

Top newsletters for building financial knowledge
Here are four newsletters that cover the financial side of running a business:

  1. GrowthLab: This newsletter provides great insight on the financial side of running a business. Not only are there links to valuable blog posts on specific topics, but there are also case studies and engaging material that will challenge your existing assumptions about entrepreneurship.
  2. AVC: Fred Wilson, venture capitalist (VC) and co-founder of Union Square Ventures, shares his daily thoughts in a newsletter. From financial tips for startups to current events and their impact on the VC space, this newsletter covers it all.
  3. Money Stuff: Through this newsletter, Matt Levine, opinion columnist at Bloomberg, uses his experience as an investment banker, and also as an M&A lawyer, to provide his daily take on Wall Street, finance, companies and more.
  4. Rich Habits: The Rich Habits newsletter is run by Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits and several other bestselling and award-winning books. Corley, a CPA, and CFP who runs his own financial services firm, offers valuable insights with his data-based approach to financial advice, helping business owners and individuals alike.

Top newsletters for staying up to date
Stay up to date with the latest business trends by subscribing to these four newsletters:

  1. The Hustle: This daily newsletter gets sent directly to your inbox each day and can be devoured in five minutes or less. It covers all things tech and business, including current events and industry trends to ensure you’re all caught up.
  2. 5-Bullet Friday: Run by Tim Ferris, an early tech investor of and advisor to giants like Uber, Facebook, Shopify and Duolingo, the 5-Bullet Friday newsletter is a concise yet informative option for entrepreneurs looking to stay up to date in their field. Each Friday, Ferris shares five tips, tricks, or insights from his past week, ensuring his readers are fully informed of the latest trends.
  3. CB Insights: This free newsletter by CBInsights helps you stay ahead on technology, venture capital, startups, and the latest and greatest industries.
  4. Startup Digest: This personalized newsletter covers all things startup and is tailored to your needs and preferences. You can choose from different topics like health, fintech, diversity and inclusion, design, women entrepreneurs and more.

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
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 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