Pivotal moment for collaboration between politicians and small businesses
Small businesses have faced extraordinary challenges since the start of the pandemic.
First, they had to absorb the initial shock of the devastating shutdowns and scramble to secure PPP loans. They then had to deal with attenuations and changes in consumer behavior resulting from the new waves of the pandemic.
The big quit and supply chain disruptions have become the next challenges for the small business community. Today, rising inflation has created additional hurdles for small businesses still trying to overcome a labor shortage that affects almost every industry and field.
What does the small business community need from policymakers more than two years into the pandemic? How can Illinois politicians change the perception that our state is a tough place to own and operate a small business?
Additionally, what steps can politicians take to retain small businesses and inspire others to consider moving to Lincoln Country?
These are critical questions for small business owners and politicians because collaboration will be needed to support the small business community and improve Illinois’ economy.
Prioritize the small business community
Politicians need to engage and work in tandem with the small business community in these uncertain times. Indeed, small business owners should not feel that passing legislation that supports small business is a monumental lift. Illinois politicians must prioritize the small businesses that drive our economy.
In the past, it may have taken several legislative cycles to pass policies that support the small business community. However, given the current challenges facing small businesses, they can no longer wait for lawmakers to make this legislation a priority. While politicians should always proactively promote a small business agenda that will support the backbone of our economy, this has never been more important given the challenges and uncertainty facing small businesses.
Change the story
Other states fuel the narrative that Illinois is a tough place to own and operate a business. They certainly have an interest in poaching our businesses because it can improve their economy and generate more tax revenue.
Illinois must retaliate with more than public celebrations when a major corporation decides to move to our state. These business relocations go both ways. You also rarely see a small business owner get too excited about a business move unless it has a direct impact on their business.
Illinois policymakers should evolve public policies that support small businesses and local businesses. They should then spend as much time as possible discussing how these policies will support small businesses and our economy. Small business advocacy groups should do their part to amplify the message. Through collaboration, policymakers and the small business community can enact effective policies and improve perceptions of Illinois’ small business climate.
Small businesses are the engine of our economy. However, this period has been remarkably difficult for many of these important job creators. With new challenges frequently emerging, the small business community is not off the hook.
There’s never been a more crucial time for small business owners and advocates to engage decision makers. In turn, there has never been a more important time for policymakers to embrace the small business community, prioritize their issues, pass policies that will support small businesses, and speak very publicly about these efforts. .
• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and chairman of the Small Business Advocacy Council.