With the start of a new legislative session, the Illinois General Assembly has the potential to make significant steps towards improving the business climate in Illinois and leveling the playing field for the stateâ€™s small business community. In 2012, 98% of Illinois businesses had fewer than 100 people and 59% of businesses employed somewhere between 2 and 9 folks. Small business owners are the backbone of the Illinois economy.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are acutely aware of the obstacles impacting their ability to grow. Members of the small business community are also uniquely positioned to determine how to improve the Illinois business climate and provide a level playing field for all Illinois businesses. While it is not always easy, small business owners and their advocates can produce, and advocate for, legislation that will empower the entire small business community. Here is where to start:
Legislation begins with a vision. Hence, it is imperative that small business owners and entrepreneurs who have recommendations about making Illinois a more small business friendly environment, contact organizations (such as the SBAC) to determine whether these ideas can be transformed into legislation. There are many diverse business and trade organizations excited to talk with business owners about moving legislation aimed at improving Illinoisâ€™ economic prospects.
Find a Sponsor
Securing the right legislator to sponsor a bill is critical. Small business owners must find a lawmaker who is passionate about empowering the small business community and the legislation being proposed. The right legislative sponsor can shepherd a bill through the legislative process in Springfield, recruit co-sponsors and work with all relevant parties to enhance the likelihood of passing a bill. Look to appropriate business, trade and civic organizations to help identify and secure a strong sponsor for a particular bill.
Build a Coalition
The small business community has a large impact when it comes together and speaks with a strong and unified voice. Small business owners looking to pass legislation should leverage their networks and reach out to every potential organization that might be in their corner. The SBAC had tremendous success building a diverse coalition of business organizations to fight for a health insurance cooperative in Illinois. There is strength in numbers.
Go To Springfield
Once legislation has been filed, a sponsor has been secured and a coalition built, it is time to make the trip down to Springfield to support the legislation. Understanding that traveling to Springfield is time-consuming and difficult for those operating a business, being there has a strong impact on legislators. Testify about the importance of proposed legislation at hearings. Meet with your legislators and let them know you will be watching not only whether they rhetorically support the legislation but whether they actively engage in the effort to move the small business initiative.
The small business community can move common sense legislation that empowers all Illinois businesses as well as our local community. Letâ€™s increase our presence and our voice in Springfield in 2015.