The small business community is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 1st, the Pritzker Administration announced that the State of Illinois and the Small Business Association will be investing $6.4 million in seven (7) new Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). This funding will be supplemented with $5.1 million from partner organizations.
Local business organizations and community colleges will operate these SBDCs. Five (5) will be stood up in Chicago. The SBDCs will provide free services for small businesses applying for funding through the Business Interruption Grant Program (BIG) and the Rebuild Distressed Communities Programs, both of which are aimed at aiding businesses hurt by the pandemic and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. The funds will also go towards supporting existing SBDCs.
The SBAC applauds the Governor’s efforts to provide resources to small businesses. We also are asking the Governor and Illinois policymakers to adopt the SBAC’s legislative agenda which will help small businesses through these difficult times. You can find some of our policy initiatives here: SBAC Advocacy Agenda
The SBAC is joined by a robust coalition of local Chambers of Commerce and business organizations calling on Governor Pritzker to defer payments on sales taxes in order to help provide relief for small businesses. This coalition continues to grow in strength.
If you’ve been with the SBAC for long enough, you’ve likely seen SBAC Empower’s logo or articles in passing. But what is this mysterious SBAC Empower that is so prominent around our pages?
SBAC Empower, our 501(c)(3) sister organization, was founded to provide resources to aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs in economically challenged neighborhoods across Chicagoland. The foundation of a neighborhood is its small business community. Small businesses employ neighborhood residents, provide neighborhood services and are the center of neighborhood activities. Helping businesses start, grow and flourish can be a game changer in a struggling community.
SBAC members know that starting a new business is a challenging and oftentimes lonely pursuit. To assist new entrepreneurs, Empower provides trained mentors to support and guide entrepreneurs through their journey. These mentors are SBAC members who understand the challenges of getting a business up and going because they have seen it first-hand and can offer invaluable advice and support. Having a mentor who is only concerned about your success is an invaluable resource. Empower recently partnered with the North Lawndale New Covenant Community Development Corporation and is providing mentors to startup businesses and entrepreneurs in North Lawndale. In addition to mentoring, Empower provides speed coaching to business owners and has a portal on it’s website that is a one-stop shop for resources for small business owners. If you need subject matter expertise, are looking for a product or service for your business or need to understand a city or state ordinance or law, check out Empower’s resource portal.
Want to help? Empower is looking for mentors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are or know someone who would like to serve as a qualified mentor.
Empower is just getting started and would love to have you on their journey to make Chicago a great place for small businesses in all our neighborhoods.
SBAC Advocacy Update: Graduated Income Tax Town Hall to be held in Orland Park
The first in a series of town halls regarding the proposed graduated income tax will take place Tuesday, September 17th, between 9:00-11:00 A.M, in conjunction with the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce. Our members will discuss the proposed amendment with state legislators and officials before this important vote arrives at the ballot.
The town hall will be at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 Ravine Avenue in Orland Park. This town hall is free to attend and will be conducted in a nonpartisan manner.
Some of the questions we have heard from our members include:
• How will the revenue associated with the proposed graduated income tax be spent?
• Will there be property tax relief provided in conjunction with a proposed graduated income tax?
• How will the graduated income tax help stabilize Illinois’ economy?
Our panel will include:
Illinois Department of Revenue Director Davis Harris
The SBAC strongly supports the Employer Participation in Repayment Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation to empower small businesses to compete for top talent and address the student debt crisis.
According to the personal finance website, Make Lemonade, over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt is owed by more than 44 million borrowers in the U.S. — an average of about $40,000 owed per student. Many college graduates, working entry level jobs, struggle to make their student debt payments.
Small businesses are also impacted by the whopping student debt owed by prospective employees.
While some businesses may offer job applicants assistance with their student loans, many smaller companies do not have the capacity to provide such a benefit. This makes it more difficult for smaller businesses to compete for talented professionals.
Over the past two decades, the internet has changed the way consumers communicate, access information, and participate in the economy. Just as consumer behavior is evolving, technology is creating new opportunities and challenges by changing the way businesses engage with customers.
Net neutrality is the principle that consumers who use the internet should be able to access the content and applications they want, without their internet service provider (ISP) (e.g., Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) blocking, slowing down, or redirecting internet traffic, or extracting rents by prioritizing some sites or applications over others.
For businesses that use the internet to reach, interact, and transact with customers, the presence of strong net neutrality rules ensures that businesses don’t have worry about a customer’s ISP blocking or slowing the customer access to the businesses’ site, favoring competing businesses or requiring businesses pay expensive fees to avoid degradation or slow page loads.
The SBAC is part of a nationwide coalition, spanning across industry, focused on maintaining a level playing field for small businesses on the internet. The FEC voted to repeal net neutrality rules in December, but the advocacy efforts continue to overturn the FEC’s decision.
On June 22, 2018, the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. case, allowing states to collect sales tax on online transactions.
Prior to this ruling, local and small businesses in Illinois were at a financial disadvantage. Now states have the authority to compel online and catalog retailers, no matter where they are located, to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction – exactly like local retailers are already required to do. Additionally, this will create an estimated $200 million in additional annual revenue for Illinois without creating any new taxes.
The next step on this issue is passing federal legislation requiring states to opt in to similar sales and use tax standards. The SBAC supports The Marketplace Fairness Act and its companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Remote Transaction Parity Act, to create uniformity for businesses subjected to these changes and ensure all avenues of commerce – online and brick and mortar – are treated fairly on sales tax collection.
According to the Small Business Administration, in 2018, Illinois small businesses employed 2.5 million people or 45.5% of the private workforce. Encouraging job growth to our state’s largest economic contributor is vital to ensure economic growth in the state. The Small Business Job Creation Tax Credit, allowed employers under 50 employees qualify for a tax credit for each new job created. Unfortunately, this program expired in 2016.
The SBAC strongly supports legislation to reauthorize $50 million for this tax credit. SB1232 received unanimous support on the subcommittee level and now goes before the full Revenue Committee for consideration.
Obtaining a license to do business in Illinois should not create unnecessary barriers for entrepreneurs or be an overly burdensome process. The number of businesses subjected to this state oversight has increased exponentially since the 1950s when licensing was limited to a small number of professions. Today, an Illinois state license is now required for hundreds of occupations, nearly one quarter of Illinois’ workforce. While public health and safety must come first, new licenses should not be created unless they are necessary to protect the safety and welfare of the public. New licenses that are established by the legislature should also be crafted in the least restrictive manner to achieve its objectives. Ultimately, we support a holistic approach to reform that includes: (1) stricter sunset reviews, taking into account economic impacts of licensing (2) creation of sunrise reviews for proposed occupational licenses (3) increase of vocational training in grade school public education (4) increased reciprocity for workers looking to relocated to Illinois and (5) criminal justice reform.
As a strong first step, during the 100th General Assembly, the SBAC supported HB5212, an IDFPR initiative know as the Sunrise Review Act. HB5212 sought to provide legislators with a process to receive information and analysis from independent parties regarding whether a new license is warranted, the reasons for the license, how it will impact the economy and how to craft necessary licenses in the least restrictive way to ensure it is effective. This legislation passed the Illinois House of Representatives on April 25, 2018. It was not brought up for consideration in the Senate.
During the 101st General Assembly, this SBAC-backed legislation was introduced as SB1756. On April 10th, this bill unanimously passed in the Senate by a vote of 55-0 with overwhelming bi-partisan support! The bill will now to go to House for consideration. Thank you to the bi-partisan effort of Sen. Bertino-Tarrant & Sen. Plummer for working with us in the Senate.
In 2015, legislation was signed into law requiring the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to create and maintain a website to help businesses with permitting issues. The legislation, SB0659 filed by Sen. Julie Morrison received overwhelming unanimous support in both chambers and was signed by the Governor. Unfortunately, no funding was provided following the bill’s passage resulting in the end goal not being met. The SBAC is advocating for a small amount of funding so what is a good idea can be implemented and help new and emerging businesses in our state. We encourage the General Assembly to appropriate the proper funding for the portal to be established.