Today’s update covers the action taking place in Congress – voting on voting and the never-ending topic of infrastructure. Also, we look at investments in the economy, what entrepreneurs have learned through covid, and U of I announces vaccine requirement.
As a reminder, we have talked with one of our chamber members, KODO CARE, about offering vaccines to companies that would like to set up a vaccine day or program for their employees. If you are interested in finding out more details, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then get you in touch with our member provider.
One more reminder for this week, we have a Legislative Coffee presented by CITGO this upcoming Thursday, June 24 at 8:30 AM. We’ll be talking about outcomes of the most recent session in Springfield with Senators John Connor and Meg Loughran Cappel, as well as Representatives Natalie Manley, Larry Walsh, Jr., and Mark Batinick. See at the end for more info and a link.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Action in Congress
The Senate is expected to vote on the sweeping election reforms bill today, in which Democrats do not have the votes to overcome the filibuster. How many votes Democrats need? At least 60 to overcome the filibuster. How many votes Democrats have? The legislation is co-sponsored by 49 Democratic members of the Senate. The one holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has opened the door to supporting a compromise version and is expected to vote with his party on the procedural motion. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that he will vote to help advance a sweeping election bill, after striking a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on a compromise proposal.
Schumer, speaking to reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch, announced that he and Manchin had reached an agreement. Under the deal, Manchin will provide a 50th Democratic vote on advancing the For the People Act. “We worked it out,” Schumer told reporters.
Should we expect any Republicans to vote for the bill? Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of McConnell’s leadership team, told reporters Monday that he expects every Republican to vote to block the bill. Senate Republicans are poised to block Democrats’ sweeping For the People Act. The Senate version of the House-passed plan seeks to start automatic voter registration, expand early voting and curb partisan drawing of congressional maps, among a bevy of other provisions. Democrats have renewed their push for the bill as Republican-led state legislatures pass a string of restrictive voting laws around the country. GOP senators argue the legislation cuts into state power over election laws and is not needed to protect voting rights.
The proposal, at nearly 900 pages, is viewed by backers as the civil rights issue of the era, legislation that is suddenly of the highest priority after the 2020 election.
Daily Infrastructure Watch
The bipartisan group of 21 senators is sketching out its spending plan in far greater detail than previously reported, with a four-page breakdown circulating Capitol Hill. But the effort is still a work in progress and several of the senators met on Monday night as staff work near-constantly to refine the numbers.
The group is meeting again today. There were no breakthroughs yesterday, but there is hope. I.E. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a moderate in the group, said they’re “very close” and could have a public agreement imminently.
“We’re continuing to work and flesh it out,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key member of the group. “There’s a sense of growing optimism, that perhaps we can show our country and the world that we can come together on something that makes a real difference in people’s lives.”
Details on how to pay for the proposal remain elusive, though the group has identified funding mechanisms for legislation that could total more than $1 trillion when new spending is included with the current transportation baseline. The White House has rejected proposals to gradually increase the gas tax alongside inflation as well as charge fees for electric vehicles. And Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday questioned such heavy reliance on public-private partnerships.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has been involved with the bipartisan group, said he’s “heard exaggerated claims” about how much money the group can actually raise. “The spending part is easy for Democrats to swallow,” Durbin said. “The pay-fors are dramatically different. The Biden approach used the corporate tax and income tax on wealthy individuals. The Republicans have a much longer list that I’ve seen one time. That raises a lot of questions.”
Details have remained scant other than an early spending breakdown from last week, and there’s been no public disclosure of the still-evolving talks as everything remains in flux. President Joe Biden’s trip overseas last week was an additional complication. The group could make an announcement on more details this week.
U.S. Economy Is Bouncing Back from Covid-19 – Now Foreign Investors Are Rushing In
The extraordinary recovery of the U.S. economy is likely to make the country the world’s top destination for overseas investment this year and next, according to new United Nations projections, with foreign businesses drawn by the prospect of a rapid and sustained rebound in consumer spending and the Biden administration’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plans.
According to U.N. figures published Monday, overseas investments by businesses around the world fell by a third in 2020 from the previous year. The U.S. recorded a 40% fall in investment but narrowly held on to its long-held position as the top destination ahead of China. The U.N. in January estimated that the U.S. had lost the top slot.
For 2021 and 2022, the U.N. expects the U.S. to cement its leading position, with China in the second spot, as overseas investors expand capacity to meet huge post-pandemic demand.
The Federal Reserve expects the American economy to grow 7% this year, supported by nearly $6 trillion in approved stimulus spending and about $2.6 trillion in extra savings American households have built up during the pandemic.
“We’re incredibly bullish about the U.S. economy, even more so now,” said Mark Vassella, chief executive of BlueScope Steel Ltd., an Australian steel company that is expanding capacity in the U.S. to meet demand from car makers and construction companies.
With the U.S. and the wider global economy recovering at a faster pace than many expected at the start of the year, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, or Unctad, expects businesses around the world to increase foreign investments by 10-15% this year and a further 20-30% in 2022.
That would take foreign investment back above pre-pandemic levels. However, it seems unlikely that flows of foreign investment will soon exceed the highs seen just before the global financial crisis.
Flows of fresh foreign investment rose during the period of rapid globalization that ran from the early 1980s through to the onset of the global financial crisis, peaking at $1.8 trillion in 2007. While slow growth in rich countries, particularly in Europe, depressed investment in subsequent years, it hit a new high of over $2 trillion in 2015. The 2020 total of $1 trillion was the lowest in 15 years.
One short-term headwind is an overhaul of the rules taxing multinational companies currently being negotiated by 135 governments. A deal appears near, but uncertainty of how much and where businesses will be taxed is delaying some investment plans, said James Zhan, director of investment and enterprise at Unctad.
Businesses are also facing closer scrutiny and outright rejection when proposing to make investments in sectors more governments view as essential to security or economic resilience.
China remained the largest investor in the world, partly thanks to continued expansion of its Belt and Road infrastructure project during the pandemic. But some European countries are starting to block Chinese involvement in their economies, drawing closer to positions advocated by the U.S. Governments from the Baltic to the Adriatic seas have canceled public tenders that Chinese state-owned companies were set to win, or are moving to ban Chinese companies from investing or contracting in their countries.
Some governments are also pushing companies to bring investment home, having concluded that it is better to make some goods, such as vital medical supplies, domestically rather than rely on overseas providers.
Foreign multinationals continued to invest heavily in China despite rising tensions with the West, drawn by its “rising purchasing power, well-developed infrastructure and generally favorable investment climate,” the report said. While some multinationals might shift production away from China into Southeast Asia because of rising labor costs and efforts to improve the resilience of their supply chains, many consider China “an indispensable strategic market,” the report said.
Meanwhile, developing world countries, which are still in the grips of the pandemic, could lose out on new investment. Some developing countries saw a smaller decline in foreign investment than rich ones in 2020, but as wealthy countries inoculate large portions of the populations and reopen their economies, poor countries could struggle to attract new investment. That could hurt growth in the long run, since transfers of technology and know-how are especially important for poor countries’ development.
While India was one of the few economies to see a large rise in foreign investment during 2020 as international businesses rushed to beef up their online offerings, for which India is a major source of back-office support, Unctad expects inflows to fall this year. It expects flows to Latin America and Africa to be subdued for similar reasons.
What Entrepreneurs Have Learned from the Covid-19 Pandemic
The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, with millions failing and countless others teetering on the edge of collapse.
The survivors have learned hard lessons about keeping a company afloat through a crisis. Here’s a look at some advice that experts and entrepreneurs have taken away from the pandemic.
Start planning early
Although we are still emerging from a crisis, use the time to prepare for the next one. Understand your existing hardware systems, your workflow and your employee structure. Discover where you have gaps and then build in redundancies to address them.
“Look at all of the roles and tasks in your organization holistically. Create a chart of deliverables—everything that needs to get done to conduct your business and who does it,” says David Weiman, who heads executive coaching and leadership firm Weiman Consulting in Wynnewood, Pa. “It provides a transparent structure showing who does what job—and, more importantly, who can step in and overlap when a crisis happens again.”
What’s more, an assessment “exposes the people who didn’t pull their weight and weren’t invested in the mission,” says Dr. Weiman. Some workers rose to the occasion in the pandemic—they helped others transition to working remotely, they were a backstop when smaller tasks or details were overshadowed by the bigger crisis, and they were an anchor for others as things fell apart around them. “It makes it easier to see and make decisions about existing personnel and new hires going forward,” Dr. Weiman says.
Build up a support system
In addition to highlighting gaps in people and coverage inside small businesses, the pandemic has taught owners the importance of building up a support system on the outside. Advisers, community leaders, customers and even competitors became crucial resources in helping small businesses survive the shutdowns and restrictions during the pandemic.
Kenny Kearns, co-owner of restaurant and live-music venue 118 North in Wayne, Pa., quickly learned that the other small businesses in his town’s popular cluster of walkable restaurants and shops were no longer the competition. They were each other’s best chance of making it through to the other side of the pandemic—individually and together.
“Customers are attracted to small-town retail because it’s not Amazon, but there has to be a critical mass,” he says. “Everyone needs to bend a little so that everyone can survive. We had to come together on things we typically fight about.”
During the pandemic, Mr. Kearns began holding pop-up concerts from his restaurant’s front windows for fans and neighbors to enjoy from parking spaces and the public street, but feared the events would eventually be shut down because of Covid-19 regulations. He looked for an alternative to keep the events—and business—going.
So, last May, while eat-in dining was still banned in Pennsylvania, he worked with the other restaurants, township officers and the local business association to erect a 40-by-80-foot tent in the main municipal parking lot so that people could enjoy food and music outdoors.
Some restaurants and stores fought it, complaining about the loss of parking spaces. But, he says, the businesses found ways to work together and share the space. Stores stuffed their coupons into restaurant takeout orders, a yoga studio started using the tent for classes during the day, the real-estate office made its Wi-Fi available to students gathering in the tent, and the local church used the tent for memorial services. The local business association created trick-or-treat stations in the space, and Santa set up shop under the tent for socially distanced photos with children. “We all worked together so that everyone in the community could benefit,” says Deanna Doane, president of the Wayne Business Association.
Mr. Kearns says the pandemic has highlighted the value of town commissioners and local business associations. “Those things are there for a reason,” he says. “You want them on your side, and they want to help you. Especially in a crisis.”
But there’s little time for building relationships and wading through a phone tree at the chamber of commerce during a crisis. “Absolutely make time for it when you are starting a business,” he says. “Go in and introduce yourself—the commissioner, the code officer, even the police. Make the effort, and they will be there when you need it.”
Have people who can advise you
In addition to rallying your community, experts stress the importance of mentors during a crisis.
Because so many entrepreneurs are younger, they often lack a “gray hair” on the team who has faced disruption and crisis before, says Dean Shepherd, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The more perspectives the better, he says, including suppliers and customers.
“Small-business leaders need to create a community of inquiry,” says Prof. Shepherd. “And be able to say to them, ‘I don’t have all the answers. Let’s look at this together.’ ”
Be ready to branch out
Small businesses should also be prepared to move beyond their business plan. “Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on your lane and assuming things will return to the same market opportunity for your product or service post pandemic,” says Alicia DeSantola of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, adding, “Take the feedback the market is giving you during the pandemic and be willing to adapt accordingly.”
U. of I. to require vaccinations for all students returning to its 3 campuses this fall
The University of Illinois is requiring its 90,000 students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before returning to its three campuses in the fall, officials said Monday.
The state’s flagship U. of I. system in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield appears to be the first public university in the state to require vaccinations. It becomes the latest Illinois university to require a shot after a handful of private institutions did the same. “This requirement is consistent with our own scientific modeling of the risks associated with the spread of the virus and its variants,” university leaders wrote in an email to students, faculty and staff.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, students have helped make the University of Illinois System a model for the nation — a model of community, a model of safety and a model of pulling together for the common good,” officials said. “We look forward to their help in setting the standard again this fall, a semester that will restore most in-person instruction and many of the other traditional rhythms of campus life that COVID interrupted last year.”
Anyone planning to study remotely will be exempt from the vaccination requirement, the university said. Guidelines for faculty and staff were still being developed and would be announced later in the summer.
The university was praised this past school year for its stringent COVID-19 protocols that led to no hospitalizations or deaths on the Urbana-Champaign campus in the fall with a positivity rate below 1%. Other universities copied UIUC’s rapid testing system and other safety precautions.
Most prominent private Chicago universities — University of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola, Columbia College and DePaul — have already announced their students must get shots before returning in the fall. Several of the state’s public universities have not announced official policies yet on whether the vaccine will be mandated this fall. Illinois State University has said it will not require students get shots.
Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
|Special Presentation: Small Business Compliance with Department of Labor
Did you know that most employees in the U.S. are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? As an employer, are you aware of and meeting your obligations?
The chamber recently joined with Andres Mendez, a Benefits Advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division and the Employee Benefits Security Administration for an overview of the COBRA premium assistance under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, federal wage and hour laws, and how they are enforced.
Click here to view the special presentation: https://youtu.be/n5tWXm1BDyE
Connect with the Workforce Center
Visit the Workforce Center of Will County’s web page for more information about the programs, services, and activities available for Will County businesses and residents.
Small Business Tax Credit Programs
Small Disadvantaged Business Contracting Goal News
On June 1, 2021, the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new steps to help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed policies. Specifically, the Administration is expanding access to two key wealth-creators – small business ownership and homeownership – in communities of color and disadvantaged communities.
Federal Contracting Webinar Series
Do you need help with federal contracting? The ChallengeHER webinar series offers education and training on the federal contracting system. Below is a list of upcoming webinars.
Finally, here is the registration information for the Legislative Coffee on Thursday, June 24 at 8:30 AM. We’ll be meeting with Senator Connor, Senator Loughran Cappel, Representative Manley, Representative Walsh Jr., and Representative Batinick. Join us to hear about a variety of topics. More info and registration here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-legislative-coffee-series-june-24-with-local-elected-officials-6073
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry