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Will County area business leaders have scrambled to do what they can to cushion the economic blow of the novel coronavirus.
Leaders in local economic groups said they’ve been focused over the past few days on getting vital information about financial assistance to their business partners.
“It’s really for us about making sure we are staying on top of and disseminating the tools for impacted businesses,” said Mark Pryor, vice president of the Will County Center for Economic Development.
The Will County CED typically focuses on providing information to local governments and businesses. On Friday, Pryor said the organization was working on alerting small businesses in the county about opportunities for low-interest, economic injury disaster loans the state announced.
Mike Paone, the vice president of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce, also said he was concerned about his organization’s members staying in business through the crisis.
Paone said government measures like tax credits could be helpful, but with some industries already seeing slim margins, they’ll need more aid quickly.
“Initially (tax credits are) great,” he said. “But these businesses need cash in hand today.”
Paone added he’s already been contacted by multiple elected officials asking what more they can do legislatively to help on the economic front.
Pryor noted how some parts of the economy, like the health care and logistics industries, will have to keep working through the crisis.
“I think a lot of entities are going to make these decisions on their ability to operate on a minimum level,” Pryor said. “There are a lot of businesses that need to keep things running.”
Despite the hardship, Kevin O’Keeffe, the executive director of the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce, said his organization’s members understand why drastic steps are being taken to slow the spread of the virus.
“They’re saying they recognize the need to do what’s going on,” O’Keeffe said. “And by doing what’s right, it’ll go that much quicker.”