Chamber Members:

Today’s update covers a variety of topics such as rising concerns of Governor Pritzker on covid cases, the push to extend PPP fund deadline, new covid drugs, a report on the national vaccine rate, and new rental assistance from the county.

Here’s the last reminder to register to join us for a Joliet City Council Candidate forum to take place this Thursday, March 25th. We’ll have an in-person event that will be taped and released in partnership with WJOL 1340 AM 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

Governor Pritzker Receives Vaccine and Raises Concerns Over Rising Covid Cases
Gov. J.B. Pritzker received his single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine Wednesday at an Illinois National Guard-run mass vaccination site at the state fairgrounds in Springfield. The governor began by expressing concern that the state may be losing ground in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, then rolled up his sleeve and received one of the more than 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that have now been administered to Illinois residents.

Pritzker said officials will be watching the numbers to see whether recent reversals in several positive trends are the result of faster spreading variants of the virus or possibly “a blip in the data.” A day earlier, Chicago’s public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Tuesday warned city residents, particularly the city’s younger adults, that coronavirus metrics were once again creeping into a danger zone that resembled a previous second surge during last October.

As Deadline Nears, Senate Democrats Add Republican Support to Extend PPP
Seven Republicans have signed on to a Senate bill that would extend the Paycheck Protection Program for two months, putting Democrats closer to the necessary 60 votes on a measure that Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said must pass this week.

Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio joined as co-sponsors of the bill on Monday. Republican Sens. Roger Marshall of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, who introduced the bill, previously signed on.

If the Senate’s 50 Democrats and the seven Republicans support the bill, they would need only three more votes to prevent a potential filibuster. The House passed its bill by a 415-3 vote on March 16.

It remains unclear when Democrats might try to bring the bill to the floor. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a separate measure that would limit how the Small Business Administration can spend the money. Collins and Capito are co-sponsors of Rubio’s bill. Collins said extending the deadline is her top priority. Schumer, D-N.Y., has filed a motion to proceed with the House bill that would extend the program to May 31 to allow the SBA more time to work through a backlog of loan applications.

The PPP program issued 7.5 million loans totaling $687 billion to small businesses during the last year, according to SBA data. FiscalNote, the parent company of CQ Roll Call, has received a loan under the program. Though the program has provided a financial lifeline for businesses, it has faced criticism for leaving some smaller and minority-owned businesses behind in the early months of the pandemic. Those businesses were less likely to have relationships with the banks that distributed the loans on behalf of the government.

White House to Outline Top-Line Spending Priorities Next Week
President Biden is planning to release his top-line fiscal year 2022 spending priorities next week followed by a full budget proposal later in the spring, the administration said.

Next week’s initial request to Congress will lay out Mr. Biden’s discretionary spending priorities, including agency funding levels. The spring budget will include more details on the administration’s full agenda, as well as mandatory spending and tax-related proposals, administration officials said.

“Our priority is to provide Congress with early information about the President’s discretionary funding priorities, which is what they need to begin the appropriations process,” Rob Friedlander, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement.

Mr. Biden’s coming top-line spending proposal is expected to shed light on his policy priorities over the coming year, including an attempt to reverse some of the deep cuts to environmental programs and foreign aid that his predecessor, Donald Trump, proposed in his budget requests.

The president is planning to propose a multipart economic package in the coming weeks that could cost as much as $3 trillion, according to people familiar with the plan. The plan calls for investments in infrastructure, education, and efforts to combat climate change.

The White House has previously said its budget proposal would be delayed in part because of a lack of cooperation during the transition from budget staff in Mr. Trump’s administration.

Further complicating the budget process, Mr. Biden hasn’t yet nominated a permanent director for the Office of Management and Budget after Neera Tanden, his first pick for the job, withdrew amid criticism of her past comments on social media. OMB is an arm of the White House tasked with crafting the president’s budget request to Congress and analyzing proposed regulations.

Presidents usually submit their budget requests to Congress between January and February each year. But budget proposals are often delayed during the first year of a new administration.

In their first years in office, recent presidents have typically submitted broad overviews of their budget priorities to Congress, followed by a joint address to lawmakers. The written overview is usually submitted in February, though Mr. Trump didn’t submit his first one until March, according to a Congressional Research Service report. A more detailed budget proposal is then submitted to Congress months later, often in April or May, the CRS report said.

Pfizer Begins Early Stage Trial for Oral Covid Drug
Pfizer on Tuesday said it has begun early stage U.S. clinical trials of an investigational, oral antiviral drug for COVID-19. According to the company, the candidate “has demonstrated potent in vitro antiviral activity” against the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as activity against other coronaviruses, suggesting the potential for use to address future threats.

The candidate is a class of drug known as a protease inhibitor, which has been long used to treat HIV and hepatitis C. The drugs work by blocking a critical enzyme, a protease, that the virus needs to replicate.

“Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus. Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic,” Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

Dolsten said the drug candidate could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care. Pfizer is also testing an intravenously administered investigational protease inhibitor for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

More Than 25% of U.S. Has Received a Vaccine Dose
Vaccinations in the U.S. have ramped up, with more than a quarter of Americans now having received at least one shot and nearly 14% fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More states are expanding eligibility to all adults. Utah and Arizona opened access to residents aged 16 and up Wednesday, while Georgia will do so Thursday and Texas and Ohio will follow on Monday.

Newly reported U.S. cases, meanwhile, appear to have stagnated, as public-health officials warn about the relaxing of social-distancing guidelines and the spread of highly contagious variants.

Globally, vaccination efforts continue to face roadblocks. The European Union is expected to put in place a plan that would make it easier for the bloc’s governments to block vaccine exports, raising the stakes in a standoff over vaccine exports with the U.K. And in Asia, countries that succeeded in containing Covid-19 have now fallen behind much of the West in the race toward herd immunity.

Will County and the State of Illinois Partner to Provide Rental Assistance
The Will County Board took another step toward providing rental assistance to county residents that have been impacted by the pandemic. The Board authorized an intergovernmental agreement at their March board meeting with the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to coordinate Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) for individuals and families struggling to pay rent in Will County.

As part of the pandemic relief plan, the United States Treasury granted $20.6 million to Will County for rental assistance. County officials said they will work with IHDA, which also received a grant from the federal government, so services are not duplicated, and maximum relief is provided for residents. The ERA will provide direct financial assistance for rent and utilities.

Up to nine months of back rent and three months of future rental expense are covered by the assistance. The assistance will also help landlords who have seen rents dry up even as the cost of maintaining their buildings continues.

Renter households under 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) will be targeted, for example, a family of four making $72,800 or less. Among that group, households below 50 percent of AMI and the long-term unemployed would be prioritized. Ninety percent of the funds the county received must be used for rent and utility assistance with only ten percent allowed for administrative costs and housing ability services.

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 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:
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 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 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, for those residing in the City of Joliet, here is the link to view the answers to our city council candidate questionnaire. Remember that in person voting takes place on Tuesday, April 6 and view for information pertaining to deadlines for vote by mail ballots and early voting locations.

Also, here is the link to the recording of our State of the City address with Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk.

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