Public Policy Newsletter
|Thursday, September 29, 2016
Neighborhood Small Business Committee
On Monday, September 26, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, along with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), announced the formation of a Neighborhood Small Business Committee. The goal of this new committee is to engage in a continuous conversation on how to improve Chicagoland’s economic climate, especially for small businesses outside of the City center. While the Chamber served on the Mayor’s Working Families Task Force, and currently sits on the Mayor’s Task Force on Removing Barriers to Employment, too often the voice of the business community and our members is filtered through the will of the task forces themselves. This new Committee will serve as an unfiltered alternative and voice to have those concerns heard.
Local economic development is a constant refrain we hear from aldermen and the Mayor’s Office, but the policies implemented too often sing a different tune. The Chamber has been consistent in saying that the business community wishes to be a responsible partner in righting the fiscal ship of our City after decades of fiscal neglect, but we cannot at the same time stand for policies that add even more additional costs and complexities to business owners.
We are thrilled that Neil Byers, owner and founder of Horse Thief Hollow, and our 2015 Tyree Award winner, will be co-chairing this new committee. Neil’s insight as a recent business owner will prove invaluable as he leads this new committee with other members of the Chicagoland Chamber and IRMA. The goal of this committee will be to identify solutions to problems and challenges facing small business owners, and advocate for those changes at the City and County level of government.
Read the Chamber’s joint op-ed with IRMA, here.
Uniting the business community to act
In addition, the Chamber is implementing a more grass-roots style of advocacy, as we look to leverage our members, our voterVOICE platform and other resources. For example, many of the aldermen who talk about the need and desire to foster “local economic development” are the same ones who are sponsors of an ordinance that would charge every employer in their ward with more than 50 employees $16 per month for each employee. This hurts small businesses because it would not only limit the future growth prospects of employers with less than 50 employees, but also hurt so-called “anchor” stores who often drive additional foot-traffic to neighborhood businesses. The Chamber worked hard to eliminate the original “employee head tax”, and this ordinance would quadruple the original amount.
Click here to add your voice in opposition to this punitive and harmful ordinance.
The Chamber has also begun a new effort to communicate directly to every business in each of the wards starting in the 1st Ward and 35th Ward. The Chamber has begun sending letters to business owners informing them of proposals coming out of City Hall and from their Alderman, and how they can take action through the Chamber and our website. This is a direct follow-up to our president’s call to unite business owners to demand change, and there will be more to come in the future.
The cumulative impact of harmful policies
The focus on improving our neighborhood small business climate is nothing new to the Chicagoland Chamber. Chamber members of all sizes support our Small Business Chicago and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) programs, along with the “Pathways to Pipeline” initiative of the Chamber Foundation. Through our Foundation and SBDC, the Chamber places STEM students with small business clients who otherwise cannot afford to hire an employee they so often need. The STEM student gets invaluable, paid experience; the small business owner gets the support of an employee they cannot afford. This win-win program supports the growth and efforts of our SBDC clients at a time when SBDCs around Illinois are closing and small business owners are hurting, and it creates employment opportunities for the STEM students.
There is a direct correlation between the economic climate the City—and the compounded effect from all levels of government—is creating through its policies and the inability of neighborhood small businesses to otherwise grow and hire more people. We have seen a clear need for small business support as our SBDC has grown from just 6 clients, to well over 300, in the past 2 years. In addition to direct services to neighborhood-based small businesses, the Chamber is also advocating for positive policy changes that promote growth and stability and not more tax and regulation.
Chamber’s Council on Logistics & Transportation preview
In October, the Chamber will launch its new Council on Logistics & Transportation. This invitation-only Council will provide the collaboration and vehicle for Chamber members’ collective voice on regional transportation issues. As we know from our recent visit from Secretary Pritzker, businesses both in and outside of Chicagoland view a strong transportation network that ensures the flow of goods as important as a skilled workforce. Watch this space for more news on logistics and transportation.
Chamber’s Election Night Viewing Party
Don’t watch election returns alone…come to the Chicagoland Chamber Election Night Viewing Party on Tuesday, November 8. Join a lively gathering of Chamber members, our partner at The Daily Line, and elected officials from both parties as we watch polls close, pundits pundit, and conjecture fly. This is a non-partisan event and all are welcome to attend. Your $45 ticket price includes appetizers, beer, wine, and mixed drinks for the evening.
Thank you to our host and sponsor of this event- Hubbard Inn.
Thank you to our co-host and media sponsor: The Daily Line
Chamber in the News:
- CLTV: “New Committee Sticking Up for Small Business at City Hall”
- Chicago Tribune: “Morning Spin: Trump’s suburban Chicago fundraiser back on”
- Crain’s Chicago Business: “Small biz targets its main squeeze”
- Chicago Tribune: “Emanuel’s former chief of staff decries City Hall’s ‘anti-business agenda’”
- Crain’s Chicago Business: “How Chicago’s neighborhood employers can make their voices heard”
- WLS-AM: “Theresa Mintle: Rahm has not ‘lost his power’ in City Hall”
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce remains focused on our mission to serve our members by supporting pro-business policies that foster a more competitive economic climate for our region and Illinois. Our government relations team works with elected officials at every level of government on both sides of the aisle to protect our member interests. We are working every day at the City, County and State level of government to serve you.
About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,000 member companies, their 400,000 employees, and over $24 billion in revenue. We combine the power of our membership with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit ChicagolandChamber.org.