Chamber Members:

A number of announcements on the federal and state level comprise our update today. Good news for our local colleges and universities as well as funds for some other areas. We’ll have a full recap of the big four meeting tomorrow as that is taking place today. Much more to follow up on tomorrow as I had lost a few articles during a computer update. Enjoy your evening!

We would like to share the newest call to action as part of our inclusion in the Chambers All In for Economic Recovery initiative. Today, we are directly highlighting the issue of employer’s contribution rate for those layoffs from the pandemic. See our newest letter to membership here.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Congressman Foster Announces $117 Million for Local Colleges, Universities, and Students
Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) announced more than $117 million in emergency funding for colleges, universities, and students in the 11th Congressional District of Illinois under the American Rescue Plan. The funding will help local institutions cope with the severe financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue serving their students safely. At least half of the funding each institution receives will be distributed in the form of emergency cash assistance grants to students who are facing hunger, homelessness, and other hardship. The American Rescue Plan provides $36 billion for nearly 3,500 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities nationwide.

“Our district is home to outstanding educational institutions, including colleges and universities that attract students from across Illinois and the entire nation,” Foster said. “These institutions have faced serious financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic, as have the students they serve. That’s one of the reasons I was proud to vote for the American Rescue Plan – which makes historic investments to secure the future of these valued institutions and provide struggling students with urgent relief to allow them to stay on track and complete their education. I am proud that we were able to deliver this critical support for institutions of higher education and students, and I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for its relentless focus on defeating the pandemic and building back a better economy.”

The colleges and universities in the 11th District receiving funding under the American Rescue Plan are:

  • Aurora University – $13,706,056
  • University of St. Francis – $5,010,048
  • Joliet Junior College – $21,685,833
  • Lewis University – $11,349,141
  • North Central College – $6,520,089
  • Benedictine University – $9,239,645
  • Waubonsee Community College – $13,529,827
  • College of DuPage – $36,481,014

The Big Four and President Biden to Meet
For the first time since October 2019, the four most senior congressional leaders will head to the White House to meet with the president. (Their last meeting culminated in the iconic photo of Pelosi standing and pointing her finger at Trump, telling him to back off in his attacks of her.)

This meeting will have a different dynamic, to say the least. Biden regularly speaks with Pelosi and Schumer, with whom he has good working relationships. The more interesting dynamic will be between him, McConnell and McCarthy. McConnell and Biden go way back and have a cordial rapport. But McCarthy’s relationship with the president has been rather … frosty of late, and that’s unlikely to change as he arrives at the White House after dethroning a member of his own leadership team for denouncing Trump’s lies that Biden’s election victory was illegitimate.

Despite some measured optimism, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle remain skeptical that the gargantuan package will progress with support from both parties. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney and Morgan Chalfant write, Democrats believe Republicans will not negotiate in good faith, pointing to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) recent comment that 100 percent of his focus is on stopping the administration. “I don’t know if it’s a good-faith effort on the part of the Republicans or not,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Republicans, meanwhile, believe Biden’s push for compromise is for show. They expect Senate Democrats to pass the multi trillion-dollar package using reconciliation as a budget tool that allows Biden and his party to enact major policies if they manage to line up a simple majority. “We’re hoping to find a partner in President Biden … [but] if he’s only looking to make a photo-op out of this in an effort to say he’s trying to work with Republicans, that’s not what we’re looking for,” said Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the No. 3 Senate Republican.

The huddle comes as Biden has sought to garner bipartisan support for an infrastructure package — and asked Congress to send him a deal on police reform. Notably, if either happens, the White House will likely strike a deal with rank-and-file members, not the party leadership.

That’s probably why Biden has prioritized meeting with backbenchers since Inauguration Day. According to NPR’s Scott Detrow, the White House legislative affairs team has had more than 500 phone calls or meetings with lawmakers or Hill staff about Biden’s jobs plan. And yet he’s just now getting around to inviting McConnell and McCarthy to the Oval.

Biden Tax Proposal Would Squeeze Apartment-Building Owners
The Biden administration’s plan to limit a longstanding property-tax break could disrupt the business of investing in apartment buildings, discouraging both amateur and professional investors who helped fuel record multifamily sales.

The tax treatment enables investors to defer capital-gains taxes if they invest profits from a real-estate sale into another property. It is used to buy and sell most types of real estate, but it has been a primary source of capital for apartment-building investors. Multifamily sales enjoyed their biggest year ever in 2019, notching more than $184 billion of properties sold.

Karlin Conklin, principal of Investors Management Group, a company that purchases and renovates aging apartment complexes, said about one-third of the capital that her firm raises for acquisitions comes from these like-kind transactions, known as 1031 exchanges. Owing capital-gains taxes could mean less investment in existing affordable housing, she said. “I think that the industry concern is that this will very much hamper transactions, and it will also then hamper reinvestment in improvements in local economies,” Ms. Conklin said.

President Biden proposed limiting the profits that investors can defer from 1031 exchanges to $500,000. U.S. investors save billions on their tax bills this way every year. The tax deferment was created a century ago to allow investors to swap properties without being taxed as if they had pocketed cash profits. But proponents of Mr. Biden’s plan say there is little reason now for real estate’s privileged status in the tax code. “Why would you treat an investment in a building differently than an investment in a stock or bond?” said Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the left-leaning think tank the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In addition to capping like-kind exchanges, Mr. Biden’s plan would raise the top capital-gains tax rate to 43.4% from 23.8%.

The Biden proposal has yet to become part of a bill and passed by Congress. But property investors already view it as the latest threat to their business after the pandemic undercut many of the biggest real-estate categories. Widespread work-from-home policies have reduced office demand while travel restrictions have hurt hotel owners.

Now, commercial real-estate professionals say the proposed tax limit would cap large transactions and be a disincentive to real-estate investment. It could also reduce economic activity that is typically generated by the real-estate sector, such as employment in the construction trades hired to renovate properties, they say. “If properties don’t flip, it’s going to impact other industries as well,” said Marc Wieder, co-leader of the real-estate group at the Anchin accounting firm.

Apartment buildings have been popular investments with groups of doctors, lawyers, and small-business owners who pool their funds to acquire multifamily buildings. These holdings usually provided steady income and sometimes qualified for a 1031 exchange. But during the pandemic, many owners found the rent payments were less than reliable. Now, the Biden plan is trying to do away with the favorable tax treatment. The twin blows mean this long-popular property investment could fall out of favor with the professional class.

If the tax proposal becomes law, some industry executives said, investors will have other options. Property owners would likely refinance their existing holdings instead of selling them, said Todd Pajonas, president of Legal 1031 Exchange Services Inc., a company that brokers exchanges. Investors could then use the extra cash from refinancing to invest in more real estate, albeit in much smaller amounts than if they had been able to sell an entire property untaxed, he said. What’s more, the proposed $500,000 cap would still allow many small investors to use the tax break.

Illinois Department of Public Health Announces $225 Million Investment to Expand COVID-19 Testing in Middle and High Schools
In an effort to ensure in-person learning can fully resume as quickly and safely as possible, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced a $225 million investment to expand access to covidSHIELD testing to middle and high schools across the state at low or no cost. The covidSHIELD test, which was developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is a saliva-based test that quickly detects the virus that causes COVID-19, including in people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms.

“For in-person learning to occur, we need to help make schools as safe as possible for students, teachers, and staff,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “To help prevent an outbreak, it is important to identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.  Having testing readily available in schools can make it easier for more students to be tested and cases identified quicker.  Testing, along with vaccination and masking, will help all of Illinois get back to in-person learning.”

Testing will help quickly identify individuals who are positive for COVID-19 so that people who are close contacts of that individual can be quarantined to prevent further spread.  This could include exposure in school, sports, or other extra-curricular activities.  The more quickly a case can be identified, the number of potential exposures to other people can be reduced, as well as the number of people needing to quarantine.

“We are so excited to have students back in classrooms, reconnected with their teachers and their friends,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “COVID-19 testing in schools helps to preserve and protect the in-person learning that we have all worked so hard to bring back by quickly identifying any new cases and reducing the risk of transmission. Making testing widely and freely available gives schools another important tool to keep students and educators safe as we move closer and closer to putting the pandemic behind us.”

Instead of a nasal swab, the test uses saliva, which takes minutes to collect and results are available within 12-24 hours after the sample reaches the lab.  The specimens will be collected at each participating school and parental consent is required.

“This is an exciting and pivotal moment for the innovative test developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a welcome commitment from the state of Illinois that will make certain that thousands more of the state’s young people and those who educate them benefit from it,” University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said.  “I want to express my gratitude to Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health for making sure our fast, accurate, and affordable covidSHIELD system is available to offer these students and educators a safe path back to in-person instruction.”

This $225 million IDPH investment expands on testing currently being offered at Illinois public universities and community colleges.  For schools opting to use covidSHIELD testing will be available for free at middle and high schools in districts that are predominately low-income and have experienced high rates of COVID-19 infection. Other schools will receive a discounted fee of $10 per test. The classification of low-income school districts is determined by the Illinois State Board of Education Evidence-Based Funding.  Schools looking for more information on testing or to sign up for covidSHIELD testing can contact Beth Heller at

Gov. Pritzker Announces, “Time For Me to Drive” Campaign to Jumpstart Tourism in Illinois This Summer
Governor JB Pritzker today joined the Illinois Office of Tourism and industry leaders to kick off “Time for Me to Drive,” a new campaign to promote the return of travel across the state. In its first new campaign for tourism since the onset of COVID-19 last year, the State of Illinois is encouraging residents and visitors to get out and enjoy Illinois’ diverse communities and scenic landscapes safely.

To view and download media assets for “Time for Me to Drive” click here.

A multi-state ad campaign set to launch later this week will encourage travel to a broad range of destinations throughout Illinois, while positioning the state to seize on pent up demand. As consumer trends reveal an increased desire to travel by car, the new campaign is timed to highlight Illinois as a top choice for travel ahead of the summer season.

“The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of our state’s greatest attractions having welcomed millions of people from around the world. That’s why I chose it as the place to announce Illinois’ new tourism campaign – one designed especially to meet this moment in our history,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “After an incredibly difficult year in which the pandemic kept us all close to home and staying apart, lifesaving vaccines are bringing us back to life and heading toward a summer of fun and venturing out. Today I’m proud to launch the Time for Me to Drive Campaign – inviting people to see all of Illinois, showing off adventures of all kinds: Historic sites and winery tours, state parks and rock climbing, hiking, and zip-lining, hundreds of craft breweries and thousands of excellent restaurants across the state.”

“Time for Me to Drive” highlights the state’s seven national scenic byways and highways as more travelers seek to pack their cars and hit the road, a trend seen increasingly across the country. Featured trips span the state’s iconic museums, world-class architecture, and natural wonders, including Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, the Shawnee National Forest, and the Garden of the Gods in Herod. Road trip itineraries also promote the discovery of destinations in and around Chicago, including award-winning restaurants, small businesses offering Illinois-made products and unforgettable locations like Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Riverwalk and of course the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

Overall, the Illinois Tourism Office, housed within the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), has created over 60 original itineraries to help visitors navigate Illinois’ unique communities and natural resources.

The campaign will run on television, radio, digital and print media, and highway billboards spanning 18 markets, and with ads also available in Spanish.  “Time for Me to Drive” represents the first phase of the State’s strategy to revitalize tourism in Illinois focusing on summer trips and regional overnight stays. Future tourism promotion efforts will be launched as indoor tourism activities, large festivals and mainstay attractions resume as public health guidelines allow. This gradual approach to tourism promotion will play an important role in supporting a safe return of the industry and its workers, while also boosting tourism revenues.

“Without question, tourism is a key economic driver for Illinois and is essential to our economic recovery,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “That’s why we are excited to roll out this new campaign just in time for summer, marking a critical step forward in bringing visitors back into our communities, supporting our hospitality businesses and helping build consumer confidence. We thank our tourism partners for their continued support as we work to revive the industry and reclaim Illinois’ place as a major international destination for business and leisure travel.”

The campaign features the hit song, “Time for Me to Fly,” by Illinois native rock band, REO Speedwagon. In spots, travelers change the nostalgic song’s lyrics from fly to drive, underscoring the excitement shared by many that after over a year of the pandemic, it is now time to venture out and experience everything Illinois has to offer.

New research indicates that over 70 percent of Americans are ready to return to travel, up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the year, and that many favor road trips. Since the pandemic began, it’s estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans have taken a road trip. Additionally, industry experts have consistently recommended road trips to help consumers feel comfortable in light of the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.

In addition to the $6 million campaign, the Illinois Office of Tourism is working with convention and visitor bureau (CVB) partners statewide to gain feedback on how the state can support renewed business for their communities. DCEO has also launched extensive stakeholder engagement around tourism recovery initiatives, bringing CVBs as well as industry groups to the table to gain input on how to best reinvigorate travel and the revenues visitors bring to the state.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, tourism was identified by the Pritzker administration as a hard-hit industry, prompting State of Illinois relief funds to be prioritized for tourism and tourism-related businesses. As a result, $75 million went to tourism and tourism-related businesses as part of the Business Interruption Grant program, with an additional $133 million for restaurants and bars statewide. With the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) the Administration is again exploring additional opportunities to address the needs of tourism businesses facing continued losses due to COVID-19.

“As some of the first business to be shuttered due to COVID-19, our hospitality industries have been among the hardest hit,” said Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, Chair of the Senate’s Tourism and Hospitality Committee.  “This campaign will help breathe new life into these struggling businesses, including neighborhood restaurants and hotels, while generating broad economic activity for the communities that rely on tourism to make ends meet. ”

“Illinois is back open for business and we are excited to welcome back visitors with open arms,” said Michael Jacobson, President and CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association. “Investing in tourism promotion efforts allows for Illinois to compete in the regional, national and global marketplaces to get travelers to our great state. This helps our economy, boosts tax revenues, improves our state’s image and puts people back to work. Hotels across the state have taken significant steps to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and guests and we are ready to safely welcome travelers to our properties soon.”

“Illinois is ready to once again showcase all that we have to offer,” said Jayne DeLuce, Chair of the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus and president/CEO of Visit Champaign County. “The launch of this campaign means visitors to our state, customers for our local businesses, and jobs for our workforce.”

A return to tourism in Illinois is supported by progress made toward key health metrics identified in Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois framework, as well as a major expansion of vaccine administration and availability in Illinois. The Illinois Office of Tourism will continue working closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and CVBs to ensure adherence to the latest safety guidelines throughout the summer.

“Illinois has been a model for the rest of the country in efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, and we tip our hats to a job well done by Governor Pritzker,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester). “Now we get to focus our sights on rebuilding our economy and revitalizing our tourism industry. I want to encourage people from across the Midwest to get out, take a drive and enjoy all of what our beautiful state has to offer.”

“From big city excitement to scenic rural backdrops, Illinois has long been a gateway for business and leisure travelers and tourism is crucial for our economic recovery,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).  “As we continue to move back to ‘normal’ and again welcome visitors, it’s investments like this that will provide a much-needed economic shot in the arm for the tourism industry and allow its workforce to get back to work and back on their feet.”

“I’m proud of the way Illinois has led the Midwest in pandemic recovery, but as vice-chair of the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee, I’m conscious of the economic loss and financial devastation our state has suffered over the past year,” said State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon). “This campaign comes just in time to help those planning their summer vacations find ways to travel safely while supporting Illinois’ tourism industry.”

“As vice chair of the arts and cultural events committee, I see firsthand the importance of Tourism,” said State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Springfield). “It is so connected to economic opportunities, especially in my district where tourists come from all over the world. I truly appreciate the priority the governor places on it.”

“Nothing brings families and friends together for fun and adventure like a road trip,” said State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield).  “I’m proud that my district covers many of the Land of Lincoln’s greatest destinations, and I encourage folks to hit the Mother Road and take in the scenic beauty of world-famous Rt. 66.”

“We’re making this announcement at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum for a reason: Illinois has a rich history and heritage that brings in visitors every year” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “Thank you to Governor Pritzker for putting forward a campaign that showcases everything Illinois has to offer.”

Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
Economic Development Week 2021 – May 9th – 15th: “Celebrating Economic Development in Illinois”
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will celebrate Economic Development Week May 9th – 15th. Led by the Offices of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) and Regional Economic Development (RED) and Intersect Illinois, DCEO will celebrate Economic Development successes throughout the state, highlighting projects and Economic Development partners and hosting a series of webinars to learn more about best practices for success.

Thursday 5.13.21
Illinois Economic Recovery Post COVID-19: Small Business Relief, Public Infrastructure, and Regional Economic Planning
Time: 1:30 PM
Click here to register:

Description: Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, US Economic Development Administration, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, and South Centralia Regional Planning Commission for a webinar around economic recovery post COVID-19. Economic Recovery will depend on bolstering the small business community, investing in public infrastructure, and regional economic development planning. Panelists will share insights around how Illinois can plan for growing the economy post pandemic, and how attendees can take advantage of federal and state funding opportunities and assistance to chart their economic future

Moderator: Vanessa Uribe, Deputy Director, Office of Minority Economic Empowerment, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

  • Darrin Fleener, US Department of Commerce EDA
  • Gisele Hamm, MAPPING Program Coordinator, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs Western Illinois MAPPING
  • James Patrick, Executive Director, South Central Planning Commission
  • LaTisha Paslay, City Administrator, City of Vandalia

Small Business Administration Restaurant Revitalization Fund
SBA began accepting applications via the application portal Monday 5/3 at 11 AM. The application portal will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.
In preparation, qualifying applicants should familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application. Follow the steps below.

  • If you haven’t already, register for an account on the application portal at If you are working with Square or Toast, you do not need to register.
  • Review the sample applicationprogram guide and cross-program eligibility chart on SBA COVID-19 relief options. SBA also added screenshots of the application portal that are available here.
  • Applications must be submitted in English or Spanish. SBA has documents in additional languages to help you understand eligibility requirements, fill out applications, and answer frequently asked questions. See the additional languages and materials here.
  • If you were unable to attend one of the webinars held last week which covered program details and a demonstration of the application portal, you can watch the recording here.

For more information, visit

Details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide are now available in English at or in Spanish at

As the SBA builds and prepares to roll out the program, this dedicated SBA website is the best source for up-to-date information for eligible restaurants interested in the RRF.

Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program
The SBA has completed rigorous testing and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal reopened on Saturday, April 24 at 12:30pm ET. Updated guidance documents have been posted below. Applicants may continue to register for an application portal account.

Supplemental documents

Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program
As of May 6, 2021, funding for the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted.  The SBA will continue funding outstanding approved PPP applications, but new qualifying applications will only be funded through Community Financial Institution, financial lenders who serve underserved communities

Restore Illinois Plan
Bridge to Phase 5 Update
To advance into the Bridge Phase that is the final step before the full reopening, the entire state must achieve several metrics:
• 70% of residents 65 years and older must have received a first dose;
• Hospitals must maintain 20% or greater ICU bed availability;
• Hospitalizations for COVID-19, admissions for COVID-like illness and deaths must hold steady or decline over a 28-day monitoring period.

On May 6, 2021, Governor Pritzker announced that the state will be moving to the Bridge Phase on May 14, 2021.  More information on the Bridge to Phase 5 plan can be found here.  If you have questions on the guidelines or how they apply to a situation, please reach out to us for guidance.  Statewide reopening metrics can be found at

Vaccine Information:  Information about vaccine locations and appointments can be found on the website. Residents who don’t have access to or need assistance navigating online services can call the toll-free IDPH hotline at 833-621-1284 for assistance. The hotline is open 7 days a week from 6am to midnight with agents available in English and Spanish.

Finally, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and her team want to check in with you, our members to hear about your experience during COVID-19 and federal relief programs. Her office has developed a short survey to allow businesses in the 14th District of Illinois to provide feedback to Congresswoman Underwood about their experience with COVID-19 federal relief programs for businesses including PPP, EIDL, Shuttered Venue, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund; how federal relief programs have benefitted the local small business community; and what assistance they continue to need going forward. The survey can be found here.

We know that a great majority of you do not fit into the 14th District, but there is a sliver and I’m sure they won’t mind the extra feedback even from those out of district since they’ve asked. The survey deadline is May 26 by 6:00 p.m. CT.

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