“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
A nice announcement locally to share here as well as reminders on two programs that I shared with you last week. Further down then we get into some state and federal updates, so hope you find the information useful. Next Wednesday, the 21st will be the last edition of 2022.
Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have shared Tuesday night’s Senate passage of H.R. 700, legislation to rename the U.S. Post Office facility located at 303 E. Mississippi Ave. in Elwood, Illinois, after former Will County Executive Lawrence M. “Larry” Walsh, Sr. The bill will now head to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
A longtime friend of the Chamber, Larry Walsh, Sr. served in many capacities during his political career. Larry was an ex-officio member of our board during his time as County Executive and had a long relationship going back to his time as a State Senator. With Larry’s assistance, many doors were opened for our chamber on both the state and federal levels that we still benefit from today.
“I was proud to get this legislation passed in the House, and I’m grateful to Senators Durbin and Duckworth for getting it passed in the Senate and sent to President Biden’s desk,” said Foster. “Larry Walsh’s passion for public service and dedication to his neighbors was apparent every time I met with him, and I know his legacy will serve as an inspiration to many. Simply put, Will County is a far better place today because of the decades of work Larry did to strengthen Will County communities. It is a fitting tribute to Larry that the post office in his hometown of Elwood will bear his name.”
“Larry devoted 50 years of his life to serving ‘the folks’ back home. He was a bridge-builder with inexhaustible patience. No matter where he served, he was committed to finding common ground with his colleagues to make government work for the people,” said Durbin. “As a shining example of what a public servant should be, his legacy deserves to be honored. I’m looking forward to visiting the Larry Walsh Post Office in Elwood.”
“Larry Walsh Sr. was a true public servant who selflessly served the people of Illinois for decades,” said Duckworth. “I’m glad this legislation passed and is heading to President Biden’s desk so we can finally memorialize Larry’s memory and commitment to Illinoisans.”
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
Illinois’ Minimum Wage to Increase on Jan. 1, 2023
The minimum wage in Illinois is set to increase at the start of 2023. Effective Jan. 1, the statewide Illinois minimum wage will rise to $13 per hour for non-tipped employees ages 18 and over. The $1 increase will apply to every hour worked in the new year and is part of legislation signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019 to establish a statewide $15 minimum wage by 2025.
Tipped workers may be paid 60% of the hourly minimum wage, or $7.80, as long as they receive the difference in tips. Any employees under the age of 18 who work more than 650 hours in a calendar year must be paid at the same rate as an employee who is 18 or older, according to Illinois law. Workers under 18-years-old who work less than 650 hours in a year will be paid a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour beginning in January.
Governor Pritzker moves to sweeten new EV incentives
The Pritzker administration is moving to again bulk up financial incentives for electric vehicle makers and parts producers. And this time, other types of businesses would be in line for more help, too, including firms in the clean energy business and those seeking Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, payroll tax credits.
Under the measure, expected to be put to a vote in the General Assembly’s January lame-duck session, Gov. J.B. Pritzker would get the huge “deal-closing fund” that other governors have. Insiders say the lack of such a fund recently cost the state a battery plant which, instead, was won by Michigan.
The amount is being negotiated with General Assembly leaders, but Pritzker has suggested he’d like to have as much as $1 billion on hand to match offers from other states. Beyond that, according to a fact sheet and a draft bill shared with legislative leaders, those seeking EDGE grants would no longer have to meet a “but for” requirement showing that they would not have created jobs here without assistance.
The proposed legislation also would double the EDGE credit to 50% for locations in underserved areas and increase the physical size of enterprise zones to as much as 20 square miles. The legislature only two weeks ago approved Pritzker’s request to both widen and extend (up to 30 years) tax credits for EV makers and suppliers. Sources say there was some discussion then of including the measures now being lined up for a January vote, but more time was needed to work out related issues, such as legislative oversight of the deal-closing fund.
In a statement, Pritzker’s office said: “The administration has worked closely with the business community to support legislation aimed at expanding economic development throughout the state. A closing fund would make Illinois more competitive in efforts to recruit new business investments in Illinois and would allow us to compete with our neighbors in the Midwest that have closing funds available. Updating the language used in the EDGE program is a longstanding ask from the business community and this administration is committed to working with stakeholders to reduce red tape and attract even more jobs to the state. The Governor looks forward to discussing these priorities with the General Assembly and moving them forward.”
State officials have not detailed the reason for the fast action now, but it’s almost certainly prompted by the situation at Stellantis. The company last week announced it was shutting its aging Belvidere plant, which assembles gasoline-powered Jeeps. But, yesterday, a top company official seemed to suggest that something else is going on. The automaker is “continuing to look at what we can do to repurpose that facility—but it’s idle, not closed,” said Mark Stewart, Stellantis chief operating officer for North America.
Pritzker’s latest move certainly will help the state if it hopes to get Stellantis to convert Belvidere to an EV producer, says Mark Denzler, president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We’re supportive,” Denzler said. “The deal-closing fund, in particular, will be extremely helpful. Other states have it. We don’t. If we’re really close to a deal, this will allow us to get over the finish line.”
Another clause in the new proposal seems aimed at parts makers, perhaps with an eye toward recreating the sort of supplier park that has developed near Ford’s Torrence Avenue plant on the South Side of Chicago. The provision would lower the amount of invested capital required for EV tax credits from $20 million to $2.5 million. It would also expand qualifying companies to include “manufacturers of solar, renewables and energy storage components” like batteries.
Another business leader said the latest batch of proposed incentives is “fine,” especially the deal-closing fund, but urged the Pritzker administration to “go bold,” stop “nibbling around the edges” of what’s needed and focus on two or three major initiatives.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch said he’d do things such as double down on the state’s highly successful data farm incentives or grant anyone investing in an enterprise zone a five-year property tax exemption. Still, he added, other states have used the “but for” EDGE provision to hurt Illinois. “They say if you come here, we can guarantee you these benefits” without attaching any strings.
State of Illinois to Receive More than $350 Million in Federal Funding to Support Small Businesses
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that Illinois will receive up to $354.6 million to administer four programs as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The expanded program offering through SSBCI will enable Illinois to support small businesses across the state – helping them attract more capital investment and expand or launch business operations, while supporting key sectors. All of the new programs will launch in the coming months.
Illinois’ four programs include the existing Advantage Illinois program, which provides favorable funding terms through a loan participation model; a new Advantage Illinois loan guarantee model, which will support businesses that have had difficulty receiving loans in the past; a new venture capital direct equity program that will support emerging technologies and industries; and a Climate Bank Finance program to issues loans to small businesses in the clean energy space.
The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) was reauthorized as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The SSBCI program provides a combined $10 billion to states, with Illinois eligible to receive up to $354.6 million.
Advantage Illinois (AI) Loan Participation Program (Existing Program)
Advantage Illinois’ existing Loan Participation Program provides low-interest loans to small businesses by partnering with local lenders located across the state. In 2022 as of December, 71 percent of AI loans have gone to businesses owned by people of color, women, people with disabilities or veterans.
Advantage Illinois (AI) Loan Guarantee Program (New Program)
Advantage Illinois’ new Loan Guarantee Program will support business applicants who are having difficulty gaining access to capital by using funds to guarantee a percentage of loans provided by partner lenders. By guaranteeing a percentage of the loan, it makes loans more attractive to lenders and has the potential to increase the funds received by the businesses.
INVENT Venture Capital Program (VCP) (New Program)
Innovation Venture Fund (INVENT) will operate as a direct equity program with a focus on investing in businesses in key industries such as agriculture, ag tech, information technology, life sciences, manufacturing, quantum, and more.
Climate Bank Finance Loan Participation Program (New Program)
This new program will be overseen by DCEO and administered by the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA), which will partner with local lenders to issue the loans. Climate Bank funds will be available to small businesses in the clean energy sector.
*The programs will launch in the near future and we will share additional information and updates when the programs are launched.
Next Step for Cannabis Industry
Nearly three years after marijuana was legalized in Illinois, industry insiders say it’s time to consider adding delivery to the state’s business model. Governor JB Pritzker didn’t rule out the idea of adding a food-delivery model to the cannabis industry, but when asked Wednesday about it at an unrelated press event, he said he’d leave that up to state lawmakers to decide first.
Pritzker’s comments came during a tour of the first Black-owned cannabis dispensary opening in Chicago. It’s one of 192 social equity licenses that are supposed to jump start an industry that the state pledged to use to lift communities and people who were previously punished by anti-cannabis laws.
Federal Government Funding Update
Just days before a deadline that would have triggered a government shutdown, lawmakers have struck a much-anticipated deal on a framework for a so-called omnibus spending bill to fund the government for fiscal 2023.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) late Tuesday said in a statement that negotiators had “reached a bipartisan, bicameral framework that should allow us to finish an omnibus appropriations bill that can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President.”
House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said that the House and Senate Appropriations committees will “work around the clock” to negotiate the final spending bills for 2023. We have a framework that provides a path forward to enact an omnibus next week,” she said in a statement.
Negotiators didn’t release government funding totals when they announced the deal, but appropriators have largely settled on an $858 billion defense budget in recent weeks, a 10 percent boost over current funding levels. Domestic funding levels proved the major hang up between both parties in recent weeks as talks stalled, eventually boiling down to a $26 billion difference in nondefense spending.
Democrats had signaled a willingness to move toward the Senate GOP position earlier on Tuesday in order to secure a deal before Republicans take control of the House in January. With a bipartisan framework and legislative text largely written, lawmakers could be on track to clear the omnibus just before the holidays.
To buy time for writing the massive year-end package, expected to span thousands of pages, lawmakers plan to take up a one-week continuing resolution to replace the one expiring Friday.
It’s still an open question whether the Senate can clear that measure in time to beat the deadline, due to the ability of any senator to object to a unanimous consent agreement. But the White House budget office typically sends out guidance to agencies not to start shutdown procedures if action is imminent.
“And after all the progress made towards an omnibus agreement, I hope nobody here in the Senate stands in the way of getting a CR passed quickly, a one-week CR passed quickly through [unanimous] consent, if needed,” Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the floor Tuesday. But Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said that was wishful thinking, given several senators want to make a point about bigger spending and the rapid runup in federal debt.
ARPA Grant $
A reminder here for you to use information regarding Economic Development grants through Will County from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. I interviewed Anna Sitton as part of our Legislative Coffee series presented by CITGO. It is about 20 minutes of useful info on where to apply, how to apply, guidelines & requirements, and more. Deadline is 12/30/2022 so don’t delay as businesses and non-profits are eligible for the pool of $10 million.
Here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/GRwKxxB_mbg
Here is the web page for more info: https://willcountyillinois.org/arpa-economic-development/
Here is the email address for questions and assistance: email@example.com
Finally, on the workforce side of things, please take note of a program coming up in the Spring of 2023. Pathways to Professions Career Expo will be taking place on March 14 and 15 through the Workforce Services Division of Will County.
The Expo introduces high school students to a wealth of career opportunities available in Will County and helps steer students on their future educational and professional paths. To make the event both purposeful and interactive, students are expected to participate in career exploration activities during the expo. We ask that all businesses present at the expo plan for an interactive experience where the students can explore the career field, ask questions, and learn directly by participating in a hands-on activity.
Business participation is vital in making this event successful for the students that attend. Below you will find a link to an online registration form to be submitted for participation in the year’s event. Each presenter will be given an assigned booth within the event. We ask that you plan for an interactive experience where students can explore their career field and ask questions while participating in a hands-on activity. We will happily assist in offering tips and strategies for a successful presentation experience.
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry