The resurgence of Illinois' economy will strongly correlate to the recovery of the small business community.
Small business owners and advocates know what the small business community needs at this crucial time. Legislators are asking for input and recommendations. This is precisely the time for small business advocates to collaborate and put together a strong policy agenda.
Many small businesses are still reeling from the revenue lost during the pandemic. Others are confronting a new and perhaps unanticipated challenge. Small businesses are having a difficult time hiring and retaining enough employees to service their customers. This may cause some businesses to reduce hours and others to battle decreased productivity.
Property owners, whose small business tenants have had difficulty paying rent, continue to struggle. Unnecessary red tape hinders the growth of small businesses and success of entrepreneurs. Small businesses attempting to adapt to the new work-from-home dynamic need support. Clearly, the pandemic has permanently altered the way works gets done.
Federal funds are flowing into Illinois and local units of government. How should that money be spent? What programs should be put in place to help small businesses rebuild and thrive? What legislation should be part of a small business package?
The Small Business Advocacy Council wants to hear from you and is thankful the Daily Herald Business Ledger has provided a forum for us to seek meaningful input.
Small business advocates are already working to ensure that Illinois' new grant program, funded by federal dollars, provides relief to struggling small businesses in a fair and transparent manner. We are working on a legislative package that will help small businesses hire employees and create opportunities for unemployed Illinoisans.
This includes providing incentives to retrain and hire new employees, occupational licensing reform and paving the way for small businesses to hire individuals who have interacted with the criminal justice system. High property taxes create significant challenges for the small business community, and we continue to explore all viable options to reduce this burden.
While we have a robust agenda, we must take advantage of this chance to positively impact the small business community. Small business owners and advocates have a unique opportunity to present a comprehensive agenda that can be supported, in part, by federal funds.
However, time is of the essence. We must formulate and present our ideas and proposals before those funds are allocated and spent. Further, the summer is an excellent time to engage with policymakers on potential legislation for the next legislative session.
Please contact the SBAC with your ideas and thoughts on policies, initiatives and programs which can help the small business community. You can reach out to Mark Revis at Mark@sbacil.org.
Please draw on your knowledge and experience. Once we provide ideas and proposals to legislators, we will expand the coalitions formed during the pandemic to push them forward. Illinois' small business community will be heard this summer.
• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.