• News Release: 5/21/2020

    I am pleased to be reporting on some positive aspects of our Ottawa business environment. Yesterday, the state of Illinois announced that the current trend of COVID19 cases has shown that the efforts taken by the majority of the population of Illinois have been working.
    "We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better. And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of our reopening plan, Restore Illinois," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans."
     
    Currently, we only have general guidelines for the change which would tentatively take effect on May 29th. In the coming days, the state and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will be issuing formal industry-specific guidance, particularly around workplaces and childcare, for business owners and employees in these and other sectors.

    All retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place as of May 29th. Personal care services, like nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.

    With Phase 3, bars and restaurants will have the option to resume operations for outdoor seating only. Tables must be six feet apart, and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff must continue to be followed, and other precautions and guidance will be issued. Municipalities have been encouraged to help restaurants and bars expand their outdoor seating options. I was able to have a long discussion with Mayor Dan Aussem this morning and was pleased to hear of all the work that the city has initiated. Dan has been discussing options with his staff, local elected leaders and concerned business owners. Several options are being debated, along with the need to make sure that patrons dining outside would be safe from traffic concerns. The city is also making sure that liquor licenses and liability issues are worded correctly to allow any of the new concepts. This is an ongoing dynamic discussion and will continue as the guidelines are solidified.

    Possibly the biggest news to jump-start the local tourism economy is that all state parks will reopen on May 29.  All concession will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in Phase 3. Illinois will permit the re-opening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits.
     
    Other outdoor activity guidelines are being eased including golf courses allowing foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart. With the new ten person gathering limit for all activities in Phase 3, boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted. The state will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors in Phase 3.
    In Phase 3, health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.
     
    FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
    On the financial side, the US House of representatives has approved a fourth package of financial assistance. The US Senate has not agreed to take up consideration of the package and the president has said he would veto the current form. The discussions will continue in Washington, but little progress is expected until after the Memorial Day holiday break.

    PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS FORM
    The application form released by the SBA last Friday, May 15 can be found here. The full form plus instructions is 11 pages long, so many people have had questions. The U.S. Chamber published a new Paycheck Protection Program Guide to Forgiveness to help.  Like their previous guides, this document provides businesses with an easy to understand explanation of what they need to do to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans.  Click here to download the guide.  Please note, the U.S. Chamber will be updated as new guidance is issued by the Department of the Treasury. The Ottawa Chamber will pass along any new information as it arrives.

    PPP FAQ and Webinar - The Illinois SBDC at the Starved Rock Country Alliance
    Amy Lambert and her staff have sent along additional information on both the PPP forgiveness and their full newsletter. The newsletter is attached to our news release so members can read the full version.
    Click on https://www.sba.gov/document/support--faq-lenders-borrowers to find the FAQs on the Paycheck Protection Program.

    Our center's Financial Subject Matter Expert, TJ Templeton, will be leading a webinar on this topic
    on May 27th at Noon. To register, please click here.