Bill Mandating State Contracts for Small Biz a Good Start

Crain's Chicago Business

June 1, 2011 – Posted by Ann Dwyer on Crain’s Chicago Business on June 1, 2011

By Elliot Richardson

You have likely heard politicians talk about small business being the backbone of society. Between rising health insurance costs, the inability to obtain credit and the other challenges facing small businesses, clearly some calcium is badly needed.

The Illinois Legislature recently passed important legislation that will, for the first time, set a statewide goal of awarding 10% of all state contracts to small businesses. This legislation applies to all state agencies, requiring the heads of these agencies to write and submit compliance plans to their chief procurement officers explaining how they will hit this goal. Annual reports will be submitted to ensure compliance.

Steven Banke, CEO of 3-Points LLC, works with many small business owners on their technology needs. He has seen the struggling economy impact his clients’ growth and the effect this has had on his local community. Mr. Banke says, “HB 3186 is a good first-step in ensuring that our state’s goals are aligned with the needs of our small businesses. For small business, keeping our tax dollars within Illinois’s economy, and in the small business community, is vital to our success and survival.” These sentiments are echoed by small-business owner and registered adviser Mike Cavanaugh, who believes we must “put the money back in the hands of small business and watch job creation and innovation flourish. An investment in small businesses will pay big rewards.”

Scott Bartmess is vice-president of federal services at Esscoe, a privately owned security, fire alarm and communications system provider. As someone whose company does a great deal of subcontracting with the federal government, he understands the challenges facing small businesses in bidding on public work. Mr. Bartmess hits the nail on the head by explaining that “innovation happens at the small-business level, and if we are going to be serious as a state about our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer and our business climate, we’re going to need small business and the innovation engine they will bring to doing business at the state level.”

Drafted by the Small Business Advocacy Council, a non-partisan organization, HB 3186 received resounding bipartisan support. We salute the Illinois Legislature for passing this bill and are optimistic the governor will sign it into law. We also thank state Sen. Mattie Hunter and state Rep. LeShawn Ford for carrying this bill.

The SBAC believes the time has come for small and mid-market businesses to come together, find their voice and start speaking with authority. We have critical mass and certainly have a profound appreciation for hard work. As we all achieve continued success and feel increasingly empowered, folks in government will simply be unable to avoid seriously addressing the concerns of small and mid-market businesses.