Help for small businesses; Time running out to answer the Census

Help for small businesses

For the past six months small businesses in Illinois have been getting hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting business shutdowns. As our economy begins to recover, many small businesses are still feeling the effects. However, several state and federal programs are available to assist Illinois businesses as they try to bounce back from the difficult times we have seen this year.

At 5 p.m. on Thursday September 17, Assistant Director Michael Negron of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will be my guest for a Facebook live conversation on the ongoing efforts to help Illinois small businesses get back on their feet. You can visit my Facebook page to find out more information.

Time running out to complete the Census

September 30 is the deadline for completing your Census questionnaire and making sure that you are counted. Billions of dollars in state and federal funds for our local communities are depending on us getting a full and accurate count. Funding for important projects having to do with public health, first responders, infrastructure and much more are determined in part by Census figures.

Illinois has a statewide response rate of 70%, which ranks us 7th in the nation as of this week, but we need to get everyone counted. If you have not already done so, please go to 2020census.gov and fill out your questionnaire today.

Fire service training for veterans

The Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) will host a day of training for any Illinois veteran interested in a possible career in the fire service. The event will be held Sunday October 11 at the IFSI training grounds in Champaign. It will give veterans the chance to learn about a firefighting career and to participate in hands-on training activities. There is no cost to attend the one-day event, and lodging will be covered as well. Registration is required, however, so those who are interested should click here to find out more.

Conserving Illinois’ landmarks

Over the Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Black Hawk statue in Lowden State Park near Oregon, Illinois. The statue, created by the acclaimed sculptor Lorado Taft, has stood overlooking the Rock River for more than 100 years.

In recent years it had fallen into disrepair, but thankfully earlier this year a long restoration project was completed with the help of the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF). I sit on the board of the ICF, which partners with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help protect and preserve important historic landmarks, forests and state parks around Illinois.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,681,169,478 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.8 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

Remembering 9/11

Today is the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on our nation. We will all take a moment today to remember where we were and how we felt as the terrible events of that day unfolded. It is a reminder of the good and essential work which our first responders and medical professionals do for us every single day, and we should all be grateful to them.

Today also causes us to reflect upon the events of these past six months. It has been a sad and difficult year for many throughout our country and around the world. But as we deal with today’s challenges we can remember the heroes of 9/11 and the way our country pulled together and persevered through those difficult days—just as we have so many times before, and just as we will once again.

More news from around the state

Latest Public Health updates includes another death in Ford County and Woodford County

Confused by COVID case counts? Here’s why numbers vary, says public health official

University of Illinois COVID-19 saliva tests are ‘working’ on its campus, researchers say

Bradley enacts all-student quarantine to quell rising COVID-19 cases

Rainy weather pushed cash crops last week

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).