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Chicago’s Cut Red Tape Agenda


The small business community has been devastated by the pandemic. Swift action is necessary to help small and local businesses recover. This is the time for policymakers to eliminate costly and unnecessary red tape.

The Small Business Advocacy Council and a robust coalition of business organizations are advocating for reforms that will help small and local businesses. Small businesses should be put into the best position to recover and Chicago needs these businesses to succeed during this crucial time.


Small and local businesses need City Council approval to display a simple sign that protrudes over the sidewalk by less than an inch. The fight to allow small businesses to display signs that protrude over the public way without City Council approval has been ongoing for years. There is an ordinance languishing in a City Council committee that will cut this red tape.

The recovery of small and local businesses will be impacted by delays that occur because City Council has to approve public way sign permits. Alders should retain the ability to object to signs that protrude over the public way in their ward but not require this process to be delayed by a vote in City Council.


There is no need for any public way use permits to require City Council approval at all. There is no reason public way use permits for awnings, canopies and other items designed to help attract customers be subject to this lengthy process. Rather, Alders should retain the ability to object to such items should they contain offensive material or negatively impact the visual appeal of commercial corridors in their wards.


This is the time to eliminate the need for small and local businesses to hire an attorney and attend hearings for ordinance violations that do not impact the health, safety and welfare of the public. Many business owners will not have the money or time to hire an attorney and attend hearings as they attempt to recover from this pandemic.


As businesses fight their way back this summer, the City should finally legalize A-frame signs placed safely in front of businesses. These signs should be legal so long as they are appropriate, comply with reasonable regulations and do not obstruct the public way. Promotion and advertising will be important ways for local businesses to bring back and attract new customers.


Small businesses create jobs and support local communities. We are calling on every Alder and policy maker in Chicago to support and advocate for these reforms. Cutting this red tape will facilitate the comeback of Chicago’s resilient small business community.

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