Chamber Members:

Good news day here on a Thursday as we received an encouraging jobs report and an equally encouraging announcement that the PPP funds will be extended until the end of May. Additionally, there is information and links to view the final levels of funding for states, counties, and other municipalities. Also, some funding levels announced for child care and education are linked to below. Finally, a bill has advanced on the consolidation of school districts.

Our Joliet City Council Candidate Forum went very well and we anticipate sharing the link to the video recording with all of you as soon as possible. You can catch the broadcast tonight at 7 PM on WJOL 1340 AM and check their web site and Facebook page for viewing information as well.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Senate Clears PPP Bill, Extending Loan Applications Through May
The Senate voted 92-7 Thursday to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to the end of May after rejecting two Republican amendments and waiving a budget point of order.

The vote cleared the measure that would extend the program, now due to expire on March 31. The House passed the bill 415-3 earlier this month. It next heads to President Joe Biden for his signature.

The popular program has issued 7.5 million loans totaling $687 billion to small businesses during the last year, according to data from the Small Business Administration. The bill would also allow the agency an extra month to process applications after the program closes.

“This program has been a lifeline to countless small businesses and has saved more than 50 million jobs in this country,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on the floor. “If we do not act, there are 190,000 pending applications for loans that will be in limbo. These small businesses need this assistance now in order to pay their employees and stay afloat.”

“We cannot wait. The House has gone home,” she said. “We cannot allow an interruption of this vital program that has made such a difference to our small businesses and their employees.”

The Senate voted 48-52 Thursday to reject an amendment offered by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that would have limited how the Small Business Administration could spend the PPP money by preventing the agency from prioritizing some businesses over others.

Rubio said his amendment was necessary because delays and confusion caused by the Biden administration’s decision to limit the program to only those businesses with fewer than 20 employees for two weeks last month.

“The very reason why we even have to do an extension is because the new administration has unfairly and unnecessarily restricted eligible businesses and nonprofits from applying. It’s created confusion. People haven’t been able to get in by the deadlines,” Rubio said. “Unless we put in more guardrails, there’s little assurance that this is not going to continue.”

The program as amended in December prioritizes smaller businesses, businesses in low-income areas and community financial institutions. Any changes to those priorities would have to come from Congress, Rubio said.

The Senate also voted 48-52 to reject an amendment offered by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., would have barred business owners convicted of felonies related to “riots or civil disorder” in the last two years from getting loans through the program.

Unemployment Claims Dip Below 700,000 for First Time Since Pandemic Start
Initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 20 fell below 700,000, the first time below that number in a year, coming in at a seasonally adjusted 684,000.

The figure was a 97,000 drop from the revised 770,000 a week earlier and beat Wall Street expectations of 735,000. It was the first week since the pandemic began that weekly claims fell below the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 set in 1982, though they remain above the Great Recession high of 665,000.

Another 241,745 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency program covering gig economy workers and the self-employed. As of March 6, the last week for which data was available, nearly 19 million people were receiving benefits of any kind from a variety of programs, including 5.5 million on emergency programs for long-term unemployment.

The monthly jobs report for March is set for release next Friday, April 2.

ARP Act Funding Update
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Rescue Plan) included significant funds for States, local, and tribal governments. These include both direct funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) and program monies that will flow through other federal agencies. The direct funding for States goes through the State Fiscal Recovery Fund. Money for other governments goes through the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. These funds are guaranteed to go to every local government. The programmatic funds go to States and local entities that meet certain eligibility requirements. Thus, for these funds, there is no guaranteed level of funding for every local government.

Briefly, States, including the District of Columbia, will receive a total of $219.8 billion. Cities and counties will receive a total of $130.2 billion. Out of that total, $65.1 billion will go to counties. The funds will be distributed directly from the Treasury. Another $45.57 billion will go to cities over 50,000 in population. Cities of this size currently receive an annual distribution of funds through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The funds will be distributed directly by the Treasury within 60 days. For cities under 50,000 funds will be allocated according to population. Given the complexity of the process, the Treasury will distribute these funds to the States within 60 days. The States then have 30 additional days to distribute the funds to the smaller cities. The States can request an extension in rare circumstances. Counties and cities have until December 31, 2024 to spend the money.

Half the funds for counties and all cities will be distributed initially. The remaining half will be distributed a year after the first distribution. For smaller cities, the payments cannot exceed 75 percent of a city’s annual budget as of January 27, 2020.

The funds can be used for the following purposes:

  • To respond to the coronavirus health impacts or economic impacts including assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and impacted industries including hospitality, travel, and tourism.
  • By providing premium pay for essential workers up to $13 an hour with an annual cap of $25,000.
  • To cover for lost revenue in providing services.
  • To make investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
  • Funds cannot be used to cover lost revenues if the loses were due to a tax cut. Funds cannot be used to cover pension shortfalls.

The direct funding also includes $10 billion for Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. This money will go out to States and local governments based on a complicated formula. While the project eligibility is worded broadly in the law, the accompanying reports indicate the funds should be used for rural broadband infrastructure.

Here is the link to view how much each state, county, and city/town/village will receive

American Rescue Plan: Child Care and Education Funding Estimates
State-by-State Emergency Education and Child Care Funding in the FY21 Budget Reconciliation

The FY21 Budget Reconciliation provides:
• Nearly $130 Billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which will give schools the resources they need to reopen safely for in-person instruction and address significant impact of the pandemic on students’ education and well-being.
• $40 Billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which is awarded directly to institutions of higher education. At least half of the funding institutions receive must be distributed to students in the form of emergency grants to prevent hunger, homelessness, and other hardships caused by COVID-19.
• $39 Billion in supplemental funding for child care, which will help child care providers keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families.
• $1 Billion in emergency funding for Head Start, which will be used to maintain access to services for children and families.

Here is the link to view the breakdown for State-by-State Child Care and Education Funding Estimates

Illinois School District Consolidation Bill Advances
A bill that proposes to free up more money for classrooms across the state by consolidating the number of school districts in Illinois advanced Wednesday. State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, sponsored House Bill 7. If approved, it would reduce the state’s 852 school districts by 25%. Illinois has more school districts than most states in the nation. Supporters say House Bill 7 could save more than $700 million per year by reducing administrative spending to the national average per student. The Illinois Policy Institute said that money could be reinvested in classrooms or be used to reduce property taxes. A committee approved the bill unanimously on Wednesday.

The bill would create the School District Efficiency Commission. The commission would then make recommendations on consolidation with a goal of reducing the total number of school districts by 25%. The recommendations would go directly to voters on the ballot, meaning parents, teachers and taxpayers living within any affected school districts’ boundaries would make the final decision. Past efforts at school consolidation in Illinois have stumbled.

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 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