Joliet chamber, mayor go to Washington to tackle workforce, asylum issues

First trip since 2019

oliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry members and Mayor Terry D'Arcy pose for a photo during their trip last week to Washington D.C. Oct. 27, 2023.

The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry went to Washington, D.C., last week to talk with legislators about business issues.

“Our biggest concern is workforce,” said Mike Paone, vice president of government affairs for the chamber. “All of our businesses – big, small and in between – are struggling with workers.”

There are not enough workers to go around, Paone said. Chamber representatives urged legislators to adjust work visa limits as one way to allow more migrant workers into the country, he said.

The chamber was accompanied by Mayor Terry D’Arcy, who said the topic of asylum-seekers – which recently became a big issue in Joliet – also was a matter of discussion.

“We talked about the whole asylum situation and the federal role in this issue that made it to our hometown,” D’Arcy said. “Something has to be done on the federal level.”

The chamber trip had been a regular visit to the nation’s capital but was stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the first time we’ve gone since 2019,” Paone said.

The group met with Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth while in Washington, along with five members of the House that represent the Joliet area.

Duckworth issued a news release after her visit with the Joliet group.

The senator noted that their meeting included discussion of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2023, for which Duckworth is a co-sponsor. The bill would provide legally operating cannabis businesses with access to banking and financial services currently denied because cannabis is illegal under federal law.

Paone said access to banking for the cannabis business was one of the three major areas of discussion for the Joliet group.

Next to workforce issues, the third was fees that retailers and restaurants pay to accept credit cards as payment at their businesses.

“The fees have more than doubled over the last 10 years,” Paone said.

The chamber is supporting the Credit Card Competition Act of 2023, for which Durbin is a sponsor. The law is designed to increase credit card competition and reduce the fees that businesses would pay for processing payments.